How To Make an All-Purpose Work Bench

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A Quick Intro

In the video, I share that you’re about to learn how to make “the only workbench you’ll ever need.” That’s a bit of an overstatement, especially for woodworking enthusiasts who will need features like an integrated vice and bench dogs. If that’s you, I’ll bet you already have an exceptional workbench. For the rest of us, what we need is a solid, versatile work-surface for assembling a bird feeder one day and re-sharpening a mower blade the next.

Maybe you don’t think a workbench is really all that important. After all, you’ve only got a few tools and everyone knows the folding table in the basement is your space. A dedicated workbench isn’t worthwhile, is it? I’ve seen too many guys stashing their tools in a kitchen drawer or expecting their kids to not touch the freshly painted picture frame. You need a proper place to work and store your tools, and I’m going to show you how to build it.

How to Build an All-Purpose Workbench

Your workbench is going to have some key features like a strong, rigid work surface, power for your corded tools or chargers, a shelf to store tools and accessories, and wheels so that you can move about. The materials are going to run about $120 (cheap ? quality) and you should secure a drill/driver, miter* saw or circular saw*, and jig saw* before getting started. *You can substitute a handsaw if you’re up to the challenge.

Materials:

Head over to the local home improvement center with this shopping list:

  • (1) sheet of 3/4″ sanded plywood
  • (1) sheet of 3/8″ plywood
  • (9) 2u20144x8′s
  • (8) Simpson rigid tie connectors (see below)
  • (200 count) #8 x 1-1/4″ screws
  • (4 count) 3″ screws
  • (1) tube of heavy-duty construction adhesive
  • (4) 2-1/2″ locking casters
  • Mountable power strip

I’ve listed nominal plywood thicknesses, however the store will display actual thicknesses. For instance 3/4″ plywood is actually 23/32″ and 3/8″ plywood is actually 11/32″ thick. Sanded plywood will give you a nice, splinter-free surface, and, at 3/4″ thick, it’ll absorb a lot of deflection.

Have the store rip both sheets of plywood in half (resulting in 2 x 8' pieces) to save some work.

Straight boards make for a straight workbench, so look down the length for any cupping (side-to-side curve) or crowning (up-down curve), and put those boards back.

The Simpson ties are awesome because they form the corners of your workbench and shelf. Without these, you'd need a lot of angled braces.

The #8 screws are usually sold right next to the Simpson ties because they're designed for each other.

Down to Size

Since the home improvement center ripped the plywood for you, all you need to do is cut the 2×4′s down to size. Use a square to mark straight lines. Here are the lengths:

  • (5) 90″ for the lengthwise supports
  • (4) 17″ for the width-wise supports
  • (4) 36″ for the legs
  • (2) 24″ for the caster supports

Let me save you some confusion and tell you that the plywood is going to overhang one side by 3″. This is on purpose because that overhang will protect the power strip that we’ll mount to the side.

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