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An Easy Workbench Anyone Can Build

Trevor Raab

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Anyone with a DIY mindset needs a place to work besides the kitchen table. If you have the space for one, a workbench can provide a generous surface, storage for tools and supplies, and accommodation for a work-holding device like a vise.

We’ve designed this simple bench for builders of all experience levels. You can construct it in a day or two using materials available at any home center or lumberyard. The finished bench will occupy a 2 x 5-ft. footprint—easy to fit in most basements or garages. For the materials, select flat, straight 2×4 stock; twisted or bowed boards will make assembly difficult.

💡For additional usefulness, you can mount a vise to the benchtop.

Plans and Materials

Making The Bench Parts

Map out your cuts on the MDF for the top, shelf, and drawer. Rip these parts to width on a tablesaw [1], then crosscut to length using a circular saw. Then, lay out the 2×4 stock for the legs and rails. To ensure a square cut, you can use a speed square to guide the saw.

1 steps for diy workbench

Map out your cuts on the MDF for the top, shelf, and drawer. Rip these parts to width on a tablesaw, then crosscut to length using a circular saw.

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Next, mark the notches for the long rails on the bench legs. Clamp a leg to a pair of sawhorses with the top end hanging free, then make the rip cut for the top notch. Stop the saw just before the blade reaches the mark for the bottom of the notch, then use a handsaw to finish the cut [2]. Turn the leg on its edge and clamp it to the sawhorses. Set the depth of cut to 1 1⁄2″, then use the saw to make the crosscut, freeing the waste from the notch. With the leg still supported on its edge, make a series of parallel cuts about 1⁄4″ apart for the lower rail notch. Place the leg on a piece of scrap stock and use a sharp chisel to chop out the waste [3]. Use a scrap piece of 2×4 to test the fit in the notches, and make any necessary adjustments for a proper fit. Repeat the process for each leg.

2 steps for making a diy workbench

Stop the saw just before the blade reaches the mark for the bottom of the notch, then use a handsaw to finish the cut.

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3 steps for making a diy workbench

Place the leg on a piece of scrap stock and use a sharp chisel to chop out the waste.

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Bench Assembly

Clamp two side rails to a pair of legs. Bore one 3/8-inch-diameter pilot hole through each joint and install a bolt and nut. Be sure to use a washer on each side of the joint. Hand-tighten the nuts and then compare opposite diagonal measurements of the assembly to check that it’s square. These measurements should be identical, so adjust the parts as necessary until the numbers match, and then tighten the bolts to lock everything in place. Bore the second pilot hole through each joint [4] and install the rest of the bolts. Repeat the process for the opposite side rail assembly.

Clamp one of the top rails to the two side assemblies, making sure that it fits snugly into the appropriate notches. Bore pilot holes for one #8 x 3 1/8″ T-15 cabinet screw in each joint (a range of drill-bit diameters will work for these screws, as the screws have self-boring tips). Insert a cabinet screw into each pilot hole [5] and drive home, taking care not to overtighten them. Remove the clamps, bore two more pilot holes, and insert the second screw into each joint. Follow the same procedure to attach the remaining rails to the side assemblies.

Attach the top of the bench, then the shelf. Place the top on the subassembly consisting of the legs and rails, positioning the top so the overhang is consistent relative to the subassembly below. Use a combination square to draw a reference line along the top’s perimeter that will guide you in placing the screws that will fasten the top [6]. Drill pilot holes at regular, evenly-spaced intervals along this reference line [7], then drive screws as needed to attach the top to the base.

With the top fastened, crosscut the edging to fit its dimensions. Nail on the edge banding on the ends of the top first [8]. Then, nail the edge banding along the front and back edges of the bench to ensure a clean finished look, with the end grains on the sides of the bench.

Repeat this procedure for fastening the shelf and its edge banding. Note, however, that edge banding is only used on the ends of the shelf—not on the front and back.

Drawer Construction

Bore and countersink pilot holes in the drawer parts, then screw the drawer box together [9]. Next, fasten the drawer bottom to the drawer box. Cut the drawer face to size and fasten it to the front of the drawer box with 1 1⁄4″ screws. Drill pilot holes for the drawer pull and fasten it to the face with the screws provided.

steps to build a diy workbench

Bore and countersink pilot holes in the drawer parts, then screw the drawer box together

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Assemble the drawer support shelf from the MDF parts referenced in the materials list. Clamp the parts together, then drill pilot holes and drive #8 x 1 1⁄2″ flat-head screws to assemble. Test fit the drawer in the support, and once you’re sure it slides smoothly, clamp the support assembly to the long rails [10] and fasten it in place with #8 x 2″ screws. Slide the drawer into place on the bench [11].

steps for building a diy workbench

Test fit the drawer in the support, and once you’re sure it slides smoothly, clamp the support assembly to the long rails and fasten it in place with #8 x 2″ screws.

Trevor Raab

steps for building a workbench

Slide the drawer into place on the bench.

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It’s useful to have a vise on your bench to hold your workpiece. To mount one, position it so that at least two of the mounting holes are directly above the 2×4 rails. Mark the hole positions, bore pilot holes, and use lag screws to mount the vise.

Tools To Help You Make Your Workbench

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