I was sick of going on a scavenger hunt every time I needed a tool for a project. It was time to build a platform to organize my tools, parts, and supplies.
I built a workbench using 2×4’s and plywood with very strong but simple joinery. It took some time to build it just because of how large everything was but it was super worth the time investment.
As soon as I had access to the garage space I wanted to get everything set up. If the shop wasn’t set up, I wouldn’t be able to build anything. However, I knew that if I just started building random work surfaces and shelving I wouldn’t be able to maximize the space and the efficiency of the shop. I took some time and got to work in Sketchup, moving things here and there, until I was happy with the overall design.
Once I knew the space I had to work with, I could get into the details of how the bench should be built. This rendering is what I came up with: simple but strong. It is essentially 7 leg assemblies tied together by 2×4 stringers. The stringers are then tied together by several cross braces between them.
Once the plans were completed on the computer, it was time to make them happen in real life. I began by removing the existing bench the previous homeowner had left. This picture only shows the bench, but there were actually two walls enclosing it, with tons of little shelves and cubbies all over the place. It was like a little rats nest.
I could now begin the new construction. I set up a rinky-dink stop block using a step-stool on one end, and my shop chair on the other. It wasn’t pretty but it sure got the job done.
Some of the boards in the leg assemblies needed a notch to be cut out. I chose to use my table saw to make a bunch of passes between the lines.
With all the passes complete I could use a chisel and break them out. The sections break out super quick and easy. It didn’t leave a perfectly smooth surface so I ran them side to side along the spinning table saw blade. That makes the face much more smooth.
This is the joinery that I used. The long stringers rest all of the weight down onto the leg it sits on without relying on the sheer strength of nails or screws. I used a scrap piece of 2×4 to get the perfect spacing on the joint.
I could now connect all the pieces of the leg assemblies.
Once the assemblies were done, I screwed in the long stringers with the bench laying on its side. After attaching both of the two shown in the pictures, I flipped it over and attached the two on the other side.
Here you can see the cross braces that keep the stringers and shelves rigid. I divided out the space evenly for the different lengths of the workbench sections.
Once the frames were done, it was time to add the tops and shelves. I used 3/4 inch plywood for all the surfaces. Cutting down full sheets of plywood can be challenging. I used a long straight-edge and just ran a circular saw down the length.
After the plywood was all attached, I skinned the tops with 1/2 inch MDF. It is a lot cheaper to replace a sheet of MDF than plywood. This way, I won’t feel guilty smashing, dinging, or screwing down into the top. Once it’s wore out, I get a new piece and slap it on top.
I didn’t want a sharp edge facing me on the bench so I used a router with a chamfer bit and eased the edge. On the edges going back to the wall where the router wouldn’t reach, I used a chisel and matched the angle.
I didn’t want anything moving over time so I found the wall studs and ran a long screw through the stringers and into the studs.
The last piece was connecting these two sections of the bench with a platform for the miter saw to sit. I had to measure the distance exactly so the bed of the miter saw would be on the same plane with the bench tops.
For now, the bench is done. There are a lot of upgrades that I will do over time, but this at least gives me a place to get organized and get started on necessary projects. I had fun building this beast and would recommend it to anyone.
My Project Tools
CIRCULAR SAW (new)