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$100 DIY workbench

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Santa brought me a Lowe’s gift card which I decided to turn into a workbench for my garage. For around $100 and 2 hours of time I built the 72″ wide X 24″ deep x 36″ tall pine workbench you see pictured above. This is a purely functional design that is big enough to support a couple of bench-top power tools while leaving enough workspace to spread out on. The casters provide mobility so that the workbench can be moved around the garage or out into the driveway as needed. Following is a step-by-step of how I did it.

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Materials list:

  • 1ea 24″ x 72″ x 3/4″ stain grade pine panel
  • 4ea 2″ x 4″ x 8′
  • 2ea 2″ x 3″ x 8′
  • 2ea 2″ x 8″ x 8′
  • 2ea 3″ fixed casters
  • 2ea 3″ locking swivel casters
  • 1ea box of 3″ deck screws
  • 8ea 1/4″ washers (not pictured)
  • wood glue

Step 1: Measure cut and assemble the legs.

cutting legs

I wanted the finished height of my workbench to be 36″. This is standard kitchen counter height and is ideal for medium duty work on smaller items while standing. Subtracting the thickness of my table top (3/4″) and the height of my casters (3 3/4″) I was left with 31 1/2″ for the legs themselves. I then cut 4ea 2X4s and 2X3s to 31 1/2″ long:

2x4s & 2x3s cut to length

Next, I measured and pre-drilled the 2×4s for the screw holes:

marking for screw holes

Using a Speed Square, I measured in 4″ from each end and in 3/4″ from one edge. I also put a single screw at the center of the leg (also 3/4″ in from the edge). Using an awl punch, I marked the spots to be drilled (using the punch keeps the drill bit from walking as it starts).

use punch to mark for hole

I used a tapered countersink bit with a stop ring to get nice clean screw holes:

tapered countersink drill bit with stop ring

Next, I applied a generous bead of wood glue to one edge of the 2X3s…

glue legs

…and, using the 3″ deck screws, assembled one 2X4 and one 2X3 together into an L to create the legs (I used an impact driver for these long screws to prevent stripping the heads)…

screwing legs together

The assembled legs looked like this:

assembled leg profile

assembled legs

Step 2: Measure, cut and assemble the top frame.

cut and pre-drilled top frame sides

The top frame was assembled like a ladder (see next photo) and fits inside the 4 legs. I wanted a 1 1/2″ overhang at the 4 corners of the table top so I subtracted 6″ (1 1/2″ for the overhang + 1 1/2″ for the leg thickness X 2 for each side) from the table top length and depth to calculate the frame dimensions of 66″ x 18″. Two 2X4s were cut to 66″ long, divided into three sections and pre-drilled for screws. The cross pieces were then cut to 15″ long and the frame was assembled with glue and screws like this:

workbench top frame

Using a tape I measured diagonally from corner to corner to check for squareness. In this case everything was spot on. If it wasn’t I would have had to stood it up and tweaked on it a bit until it was (before the glue dried).

checking frame for square

Step 3: Attach legs to frame.

leg ready to be attached to frame

I measured and pre-drilled the tops of the legs for attachment to the outside of the frame. Here I went with a 1″ inset from the top and outside edge of each leg and a 1″ inset from the bottom edge of the 2X4 frame rail.

attaching legs to frame

With the frame laying on a flat surface (concrete driveway), I used a square to align each leg before securing them with four 3″ deck screws each (2 per side/leg) and wood glue.

legs attached to frame

Step 4: Attach casters.

fixed caster

With the table still face down on the driveway, I attached two fixed casters to one end and two locking swivel casters to the other. I used 1/4″ washers to make the head bigger on the deck screws to keep them from pulling through the relatively large holes in the caster base plates. I could only get two screws in each caster but the weight of the leg was mostly centered over the caster body so it should work fine. These casters are rated at 300 pounds capacity each. This is the smallest size I would recommend for this project.

locking swivel caster

Step 5: Attach the top.

top corner overhang

Using a square I measured in 1 1/2″ from each side and marked all 4 corners on the bottom of the stain grade pine panel. This served as a guide during attachment of the top to the base. BTW, normally I would recommend 3/4″ birch plywood for a project like this. I chose to go with a laminated pine panel for the top instead of plywood because the pre-finished and pre-cut 24″ x 72″ panel was $15 less than a 4′ x 8′ sheet of birch plywood. I could have gotten a 4′ x 8′ sheet of MDF for a few bucks less but I didn’t feel like hassling with a Lowe’s employee to get it cut down. In other words, the pine panel was the easy way out for me for this quick project.

top installation

For this project I chose to attach the top to the base with countersunk 3″ deck screws driven through the 3/4″ stain grade pine panel top. If I had used 3/4″ birch plywood I likely would have glued and screwed it to the frame from below. However, I was concerned about the potential dimensional instability of the pine panel so I screwed it just snug down from the top w/o glue at every frame cross member. I figure this will hold it securely while allowing for a modicum of movement if the top should expand or contract a bit.

Step 6: Build the shelf.

storage shelf

I wanted a storage shelf to make use of the space under the table to help get some boxes and tools off the garage floor. The cheapest and simplest solution turned out to be two sections of 2X8 cut to length and screwed to 2X4 cross members. Not only does this design support plenty of weight, but it also quite effectively ties the legs together and strengthens the base of the table. I left the shelf high enough off the floor so that I could easily get under it to retrieve lost items. I’ve made the mistake of putting shelves like this too close to the floor before ;-)

Step 7: Finishing details.

round corners

With the top attached I used a sanding block to lightly round the sharp corners of the top so they wouldn’t snag on my clothing while I’m working around the table in the tight confines of the garage. Also, easing the sharp corners will lessen the inevitable impact on my hip bones and my girls’ little heads.

sanding the top

Finally, I used my random orbital sander and some 220 grit paper to clean off the pencil marks on the top. Being a stain grade panel it was already smooth so this was not a required step. At this point I could have applied any number of finishes to my new workbench but instead I decided to leave it unfinished. The way I see it, this is intended to be a workbench. I’m really not concerned what it looks like and don’t want to be worried about messing up a pretty finish with greasy car parts, super glue, paint, etc. I might be tempted to apply a polyurethane finish if this were to be used in a wetter environment (ie: carport, greenhouse, etc.). However, I’d more likely would just have built it using cedar or pressure treated lumber and left it unfinished as well.

Step 8: Put it to work.

completed workbench

As you can see, only 3 days into its existence and my new workbench has already found a permanent home in my garage. In fact, it seems I may need to build another so that I have a place to actually work on projects :D

31 Responses to “$100 DIY workbench”

  1. 1
    Uma:

    That is a fabulous workbench (if the words fabulous and workbench should be allowed to coexist in the same sentence). You make the best tutorials. I’m so going to make one once the door to the garage thaws out…

  2. 2
    nick Kuchar:

    Sweet workbench… Wish I had room out here to build stuff. Good documentation, too!

    -Nick

  3. 3
    steve:

    I recently had a two car garage built and i built two of these,thanks for putting the photos and instructions to where they were easy to understand.thanks Robert

    Steve

  4. 4
    Robert:

    Glad to be of assistance, Steve!

  5. 5
    Jamie:

    Hello There:
    Pardon an odd request. I stumbled on this site when doing some Internet keyword
    research. I thought I would write because I think you can help me on a
    project I am working on.

    I am a product label historian doing some work on glue products,
    specifically Elmer’s Carpenter’s Wood Glue. I note in your photos of
    miniature model building supplies, you show an older design bottle of
    the Carpenter’s Wood Glue that Elmer’s made years ago. The bottle and
    label you show is the “exact variation label” I was looking for to
    preserve in the archives.

    Since production of that label, Elmer’s has now “completely redesigned”
    their labels and bottles to a solid orange plastic type bottle. Current
    inventory sold in my area only shows the newer design in stock.
    Although some Internet sales outlets still show older stock photos,
    they also seem to only have the newer stock. The only way to find older
    out of production examples is to contact consumers who may still have
    the bottles in a basement, attic, cabinet or workshop. Thus, you can
    see they are hard to find.

    In short, since I found your photos, I thought you may still have that
    bottle. If you are willing and still have that bottle or one like it, I
    will make an offer of $20 for it, and/or buy you a brand new full
    bottle. Please let me know. Thanks much. Once again, pardon this rather odd
    request, lol.

    —–Jamie

  6. 6
    Jamie:

    Correction, the DIY Workbench.
    I have contacted some else about the miniature model building.
    —-Jamie

  7. 7
    Dan:

    Thanks for the details on this workbench. I’ll be building one for my garage :)

    How are the lower 2×8 boards holding up?…any sag?

  8. 8
    Robert:

    Dan-
    The 2×8s are holding up fine under about a continuous 200# static load that is fairly evenly distributed. If you are concerned about sag, screw a piece of 2×4 scrap that is slightly shorter than the 2×8s perpendicular to the bottom of the 2×8s to form kind of a T beam. This should make them super stiff!

  9. 9
    Dan:

    Thanks for the info Robert.

  10. 10
    Pat:

    Thanks for the excellent post. Now, since my son took over my garage with his car parts and tools maybe I can get him to store some of his stuff (parts and tools) in his own area.

  11. 11
    Glen:

    My son (11yrs.) and I just built two of the benches following your easy instructions. It was a great winter project. One of them was for him, so now he has an old couch sitting in front of it and stacked it full of his electronic games and an old TV. I think as he gets older he’ll use it as a workbench but for now I let him enjoy it as is. Mine is now in the garage. Your instructions and images were excellent. Thank you so much for the posting!
    Glen

  12. 12
    SandRail Junkie:

    hey i found a website where you can download sandrail plans

  13. 13
    Isaac:

    Just built one of these with my Dad. Thanks for the plans, the exact size I was needing! Nice and solid. I left off the rollers (can always add them later) for more stability, and made the total height 40.5″ which is perfect (no bending over for me). The top I used 3/4″ plywood. I put a 2×4 between the 2×8’s for no gap. The thing looks good, I almost want to build several and put extras in the unfinished downstairs!!

  14. 14
    Kevin:

    Thanks! I built one today too! I appreciate it!

  15. 15
    Vlad:

    Just built the workbench over this weekend with adjustments for size (48×24 instead of the 72×24). Great design and instructions. I’m going to use it for my ski tuning needs as well as for whatever it will be needed.
    Thanks a lot for posting it.

  16. 16
    Brett:

    I just completed building this. I made mine about 22″ x 60″. I used PL Premium instead of wood glue because PL Premium is extremely strong. For the bottom mine ended up being 19″ deep, so I bought a 2×10x10 and cut it down and PL’d/nailed it in place. I used an old solid core door as the top since it was going to end up in a dumpster otherwise. I will likely staple some plastic netting to the sides and back so tools can’t fall out easily if I roll it around. For the wheels, I cut some small 2 x 4 scraps and PL’d/nailed them to the bottom of the side studs. That way I could use all 4 bolt holes on the casters. I used 5/16 x 1.5″ lag screws with 1/4″ washers to attach the casters. The bench is plenty strong and will probably outlive me. Thanks for the inspiration!

  17. 17
    Idea Woodworking Plans Review:

    Excellent looking workbench you have there – Funnily enough I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with the far wall of my garage which is crying out for something similar. Have a million ideas but something like this would be great!

    Nice Idea
    Eddie

  18. 18
    Lanora Barbero:

    iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the

  19. 19
    A few Low Cost Ideas to Re-Vamp You Basement « Homes4Men:

    [...] Cost: A pegboard will cost around $100 ($25 for the 4 ‘x 8′ pegboard, $15 for the 2×3s, and $56 for the hooks.). From there, either buying or building a simple bench is will run you another hundred dollars. (Here is a great link to a simple 8 foot long bench.)  [...]

  20. 20
    Jeremy:

    Thank you so much for these plans. i spent weeks looking for decent simple plans for a workbench until i stumbled upon yours. i completed the bench last night an the only upgrade i did was to repeat the the ladder frame from the top and use it on the bottom instead of the 2×8s since i wanted a solid shelf down there. it only cost me 2 more 2×4s and since i was having the top cut from a sheet of 3/4″ plywood there was more than enough left over to make the shelf top on the bottom. this added a good bit of weight to the bench which i wanted and made it extremely sturdy. this thing is damn near bulletproof. coming from someone like me, who is a complete novice at building anything, this design was a great starter project for me and gave me confidence to try my hand at other similar projects. thanks again.

  21. 21
    Josh Miller:

    Thanks a lot for these great instructions! I made one of these last week (minus the casters). Looks great!

  22. 22
    Robert:

    Cool. Thanks!

  23. 23
    rick Stimpson:

    Thanks for the awesome plan. Just curious as to how you would screw the top from the bottom. Thanks again.

  24. 24
    David Hoyle:

    Also thanks for the plan.
    One question for the dimensions: you wanted 1 1/2″ overhang for the top and then subtracted 2 x 1 1/2 for overhang and 2 x 1 1/2 for the leg thickness. I thought you were using 2″ thick pieces for the legs.
    For me the frame would be 72- (2 x 1 1/2) – (2 x 2) = 65″ long.
    Thanks

  25. 25
    Zack:

    Thanks for the great tutorial! I Just built two of these following your exact plans. They turned out just right and will be well used!

  26. 26
    Fro boy:

    Thanks for the plans sir. No mystery at all. I modified the length a bit to fit my available space. For the top I used a sheet of 1/2″ mdf “screwed & glued” topped with a sheet of 3/4″ plywood screwed no glue. Tops get damaged, no worries screw down a new one.

  27. 27
    Steve:

    thanks for the plans Robert. I modified mine slightly, made a 7′ x 26″ bench. I did not put in on wheels and I built a 3×2 ladder frame for the shelving. Screwed in (2) 2×4’s on the sides this way I could raise and lower the shelf pretty easily with only 4 screws at any time.

    Gonna build a smaller, portable one next (on wheels). Thanks again.

  28. 28
    Nick:

    Thanks a ton! I spent 115 out the door (had extra wood due to them not having the exact sizes.

    I changes it around a little however serface size on top is the same. Came out great!

    Thanks for the detailed work. Much appreciated!

  29. 29
    Vincent:

    Best tutorial I’ve seen. One question: if I do an 8′ table (just rip a 4×8 plywood sheet for the top) will it be strong enough in this design? or will I need to add a pair of legs in the middle?

  30. 30
    Vincent:

    I did it with an 8′ top, but I extended 1′ overhang on one end because I want to be able to do a lot of clamping. So 7′ frame with 8′ top. Looks great. Thanks again.

  31. 31
    Robert:

    3/4″ plywood should be sufficient without additional support. Better yet, use both halves and double it up! 3/4″ birch plywood is the best choice. I considered doing that when I built mine but was looking for the cheapest solution possible at the time.

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