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How to build a workbench

Simple but sturdy! A simple, strong, no frills workbench

woodworking bench

[Plans & Instructions]   [User Photo/Comments]

In this article ...
Identifying the members
The cutting list
The wood and wood sizes
The plans
Your comments & input


The average DIYer would probably be content with a less elaborate woodworking bench than a woodworker might otherwise demand.
The average DIYer does not know what a mortise and tenon joint is, or a lapped dovetail joint, or a blind mitre joint, or a bridle joint. In fact, he doesn't want to know.
The average DIYer secures all joints with bolts and nails.
He is usually a jack of all trades and generally useful at most of them.

This workbench is put together in typical DIY fashion. It is basic, requires the minimum of tools, is easy to construct and very, very sturdy.

There is also some helpful input from other people's comments

Identifying the members

parts for a woodworking bench [a]   Legs: 100 mm x 50 mm (2" x 4")
[b]   Top front & back rails: 100 mm x 50 mm (2" x 4")
[c]   Top side rails: 100 mm x 50 mm (2" x 4")
[d]   Bottom front & back rails: 100 mm x 50 mm (2" x 4")
[e]   Bottom side rails: 100 mm x 50 mm (2" x 4")
[f]   Side diagonal bracing: 100 mm x 50 mm (2" x 4")
[g]   Rear diagonal bracing: 100 mm x 50 mm (2" x 4")
[h]   Shelf: 150 mm x 25 mm (1" x 6")
[i]   Benchtop center support: 100 mm x 50 mm (2" x 4")
[j]   Benchtop end supports: 50 mm x 50 mm (2" x 2")
[k]   Benchtop: 150 mm x 50 mm (2" x 6")
[l]   Galvanized coach/carriage bolts

Cutting list

item description size length quantity
[a] legs 100mm x 50mm (2"x4") 800mm (32") 4
[b] & [d] front and back rails for top and bottom 100mm x 50mm (2"x4") 1600mm (64") 4
[c] & [e] side rails top and bottom 100mm x 50mm (2"x4") 550mm (22") 4
[f] side diagonal bracing 100mm x 50mm (2"x4") 900mm (36") (oversize) 2
[g] rear diagonal bracing 100mm x 50mm (2"x4") 1800mm (6ft) (oversize) 1
[h] shelving 150mm x 25mm (1"x6") 650mm (26") 9
[i] benchtop center support 100mm x 50mm (2"x4") 550mm (22") 1
[j] benchtop end supports 50mm x 50mm (2"x2") 750mm (30") 2
[k] benchtop 150mm x 50mm (2"x6") 1800 (6ft) 5
[l] Galvanized coach bolts 10mm (3/8") 110mm (4-1/2")
160mm (6-1/2")

The wood and wood sizes

Note: This project is written in both Metric (mm) and Imperial (inches).
The metric measurements are given first followed by the standard measurements in brackets ( ) - for example: 100 mm x 50 mm (2" x 4").

The wood sizes used for this project are sawn (rough) actual sizes. Dressed, gauged or planed wood is slightly smaller in width and thickness, and if used, make the necessary allowances.
A timber such as pine would be ideal.
Untreated timber may be used if the table is for inside use (garage, work shed etc.) whereas a treated timber is preferable for outside use.
All sizes in this project are standard sizes and should be readily available at most lumber merchants.

Four different stock sizes are used. They are...

50 mm x 50 mm (2" x 2") for the benchtop end supports.
100 mm x 50 mm (2" x 4") for the legs, bracing, rails and benchtop center support.
150 mm x 50 mm (2" x 6") for the benchtop.
150 mm x 25 mm (1" x 6") for the shelving.


Refer to these plans for any required measurements throughout the project.

workbench plans


Step 1. The frame

make the woodworking bench frame

Commence by making the frame upside down.
On even ground nail the front and back top rails (b) to the side top rails (c) forming a rectangle 1600 mm x 650 mm (64" x 26").
Clamp a leg (a) to the inside edge of each corner (note that the table is currently being built upside down) and secure the legs to the rails by first drilling a 10 mm (3/8") diameter hole through the center of where the two members meet at each corner. Insert the bolts, add washers and nuts, then tighten.
Turn the frame upright and clamp the bottom rails (d) and (e) to the legs (a) so that the top of the rails are 200 mm (8") up from the bottom of the legs. Fasten the bottom rails in a similar way to how the top rails were fastened.
Nail the benchtop center support (i) in place. Refer to the drawing 'Identifying the members' at the top of the page, if necessary.

Note: About the bench height.
Most workbenches range in height from 800 mm (32") to 900 mm (36"). The overall height of this bench is 850 mm (34"), however, the overall height can be changed to suit yourself by cutting the lengths of the legs accordingly.

Step 2. The bracing

Ensure all parts of the workbench frame are square. Hold the bracing members (f) and (g) which are all over length, diagonally in place against the legs to enable each end to be marked. Cut to size, drill and bolt in place.

Note: About the bolts.
The bolts are a contributing factor in ensuring a sturdy workbench. They are also a major cost in relation to the overall project. If cost is a main consideration, then nails (90 mm (3-1/2")) or screws can be used in place of the bolts. The workbench will still be sturdy, but not AS sturdy.

Step 3. The top

Lay all the benchtop members (k) on level ground, upside down and so that all the pieces are hard up against each other and all the ends are flush.
Place the two end benchtop supports (j) on the benchtop members (remember, the benchtop is upside down) so that each support (j) is in 50 mm (2") from each end. Note that the two supports should also be 1600 mm (64") apart which is the length of the bench frame. Refer to the plan above.

Fix the bench supports (j) to the benchtop members (k) with nails. This is just to hold the top in place until it can be drilled and bolted, so ensure the nails are at a length that will not go all the way through the benchtop, and are placed so as not to be in the way of the bolts.

Turn the benchtop over (upright) and sit off the ground on blocks to enable drilling.

Mark for drilling, two holes at each meeting. (See the drawing 'Identifying the members' at the top of the page.)

Start each hole with a diameter slightly bigger than the bolt head, about 10 mm (3/8")deep. This is so the bolt head is countersunk into the benchtop, and does not protrude past the face of the benchtop.
The remainder of the hole will be 10 mm (3/8") diameter (or the thickness of the bolt shank).

bolt the benchtop parts together
Start each hole with a diameter slightly bigger than the bolt head

When the benchtop is bolted firmly together, place it on top of the bench frame and fasten in place by bolting the benchtop end supports (j), to the top side rails (c), using two bolts (horizontally) each end.

Step 4. The shelving

Nail the shelving (h) to the top of the bottom front and back rails (d).
Use flathead nails 75 mm (3") long. The last shelving member will need to be cut lengthwise to fit snugly in place.

All done. Eazy with a "Z"!

User Photos/Comments

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