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How to Build a Workbench

A workbench or tool bench is an indispensable means for providing  a much needed work surface just like the counters in the kitchen do.

Have you ever heard yourself say ‘If only I had a workbench, this project would go much easier. Many people have a workbench in their basement that are great for providing a durable, flat work surface for a variety of projects, including craft projects. A lot of people find that a workbench in their garage makes a handy location for working on a lot of outdoor projects, like building a planter or window box, repairing a tricycle, replacing a coupling on a garden hose, or even an area for a make-shift potting table.

Moved the workbench outside to work on a particular project

Building a workbench without a lot of bells and whistles can be a relatively simple project. You can always add things to it, like hooks or knobs to hold certain tools, and even a holder for a roll of paper towels.
To build this medium-size workbench, you’ll need the following materials:


2 x 4 boards:
4 – cut to 39” length (for the legs) Note: this 39” height may be too high for a lot of people; also, it won’t be comfortable if you will be bent over for a lengthy period of time working on a surface that is too low; the height you choose should be relative to your height and working comfort)
2 – cut to 19” length (for lower side rails)
2 – cut to 16” length (for upper side rails)
2 – cut to 48” length (for front and back top rails)

2 x 6 boards:
3- cut to 48” length (for lower shelf)

1 x 4 boards:
1 – cut to 55” length (for backstop)

Bench top:
27” x 55” (we used a flat, interior (not hollow-core) door slab (the door had not been precut for hinges or door knob – it was a 7 foot door that we cut to a 55” length)
Note: 3/4 plywood could be substituted


6 – 3/8” x 3” lag screws (hex head) with one washer for each
8 – 3/8” x 3 1/2” lag screws (hex head) with one washer for each
24 – 3/8” x 3 1/2 through bolts (hex head), with one nut and two washers for each
4 – 1” x 1” L-brackets (aka corner braces) with screws (for connecting bench top to bench frame)
4 – 1” x 3 1/2″ L- brackets (aka corner braces) with screws (for connecting backstop to bench top)

Front View


End View

Note: to add to the aesthetic character of projects, try to keep fasteners (screws, bolts, etc.) that will be visible after the project is completed, lined up or in a geometric pattern. If fasteners become visually skewed it may likely detract from the project’s finished appearance.

To begin: Build the 2×4 leg and side rail frame first. Connect one 16” side top rail and one 19” lower side rail to two of the 2×4 legs. The top side rails are shorter (than the lower side rails) to leave 1 1/2″ for the 48” front and back top rails. All top rails will be flush with the top of the legs. Each top side rail is attached to the legs with two 3/8″ through bolts, nuts, and washers at each end (see sketch A for placement). Drill 3/8” holes completely through the top side rails and the legs to slip the bolts (with a washer) through and then secure with another washer and nut. The lower side rails will be 6” from the bottom of the leg to the bottom of that lower rail. Attach each lower side rail with four 3/8″ through bolts, nuts, and washers at each end. Drill 3/8” holes completely through the lower side rails and the legs to slip the bolts (with a washer) through and then secure with another washer and nut. Repeat to frame the opposite end of the workbench.

Sketch A: Through bolts (white), lag screws (dark)

Now that the two sides are framed, connect them together with the 48” front and back rails using two 3 1/2″ lag screws at each end of the rails. Drill two pilot holes through each leg and into the ends of the front and back rails (see sketch A for placement). Place a washer on each lag screw, and screw it through the pilot hole of the leg and into the rail end.
For the shelf, attach the three 48” length 2×6’s to the lower side rails, starting at the back end of the rails (leave 1/4″ space between the 2 x 6’s), with one 3” lag screw with a washer at each end of the 2 x 6, centered on the board. Beginning at the back, for the placement of the 2 x 6 boards, will recess the shelf at the front and reduce the chance of hitting your shin! The three 2 x 6 boards give the workbench bracing for a solid structure.

Next attach the 1” x 1” L-brackets on the outside of each leg, flush with the top of the leg. Center the bench top on the frame (3” overhang on all sides) and attach it, from underneath, to the brackets.

Great work surface for a miter saw

Attach the four 3 1/2″ L-brackets to the back side of the 1×4 backstop, placing one bracket at each end of the backstop and the other two evenly spaced between. Attach the backstop with the brackets to the underside of the bench top. You can leave it unfinished, paint or stain it, or give it a few coats of polyurethane.


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