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How to Build a Heavy Duty Workbench

How to Build a Heavy Duty Workbench

by Ethan Hagan (email Ethan) | | July 10, 2012 | 115 Comments »

This weekend we built the first of four heavy duty workbenches for the OPC workshop! This project was very simple, and the design works not only for a workbench (as we’re using it), but also for sturdy storage shelves in a basement or garage. We built a two-shelf bench, but this design can be easily modified for three or four-shelf models.

Our goal for each workbench is an inexpensive, free-standing, movable table that can support a lot of weight (400+ lbs. total), with no perceptible deflection along the entire 8′ length of the upper shelf. We intend to use the lower shelf for tool storage (where deflection issues are less important), and the upper shelf for a combination of storage and work space (where deflection issues are more important).

All of the materials for this table came from our local Home Depot, and we spent a little over $120 total. After getting everything to the shop, it took about three hours to cut the wood and assemble the parts.

Design Overview: The general plan for this workbench is to create a reinforced frame of 2×4’s with a lower and upper plywood shelf. This might not sound very original, but I’d challenge you to find a sturdier design at this price point. The directions we provide build a workbench with a shelf measuring 2′ wide x 8′ long x 40″ tall. We strongly suggest keeping the width and length the same, because then you’ll need only one sheet of plywood, and you’ll minimize the number of cuts.

Materials List

Here’s the shopping list. All the materials can be found at your local home improvement center.

  • (1) sheet of 3/4″ sanded plywood
  • (9) 2×4’s
  • (8) Simpson rigid tie connectors (see below)
  • (200 count) #8 x 1-1/4″ screws
  • (4 count) 3″ screws (see below)
  • (2) 6′ flat, iron bar (see below)
  • (1) tube of heavy-duty construction adhesive
  • (4) 3″ locking casters (150 lb.+ rating per caster recommended)

Plywood: We chose cabinet grade 3/4″ plywood for the surface. Remember, 3/4″ plywood is actually 23/32″ thick, and that’s how it’s listed in the store. Cabinet grade plywood provides a relatively smooth surface that will be mostly free of splinters. At 3/4″ thick, it will easily absorb deflection over a 12″ wide span. Look for a sheet of plywood with no damage or marring.

We also decided to let Home Depot rip the sheet using their panel saw rather than cutting it ourselves. In our area, both Lowe’s and Home Depot will cut a sheet of plywood twice per sheet, free of charge.

Simpson Ties: Simpson ties are usually found in the metal building brackets rack. These rigid tie connectors are used to secure two wood members (forming a 90° corner) to a vertical post. If that sounds confusing, just imagine three 2×4’s intersecting to form a corner.

Screws: Make sure the screws you select have a large, flat head that will sit tightly against the Simpson ties without going through the pre-drilled holes. These Simpson ties are designed for #8 screws, which were sold in a rack right next to the ties.

Flat Iron Bar: The flat, iron bar is a thick strap measuring approximately 6′ long x 1″ wide. We used two bars on the top shelf to improve the horizontal rigidity of our workbench. It can be found with other pieces of angle iron at most home improvement centers.

Tools

  • Drill/driver
  • Impact driver (if not available, a drill/driver will suffice)
  • Metal drill bit (for drilling the reinforcing strap. If no straps are used, this isn’t required)
  • Miter saw (preferable for cutting 2x4s, although a hand saw or circular saw would also work)
  • Jigsaw (or a hand saw)

Step 1: Cut the Lumber to Length

Like I mentioned, we had a Home Depot associate rip the plywood sheet in half lengthwise, creating two 2′ x 8′ pieces. Almost all of the remaining cuts involve trimming 2×4’s to the appropriate length.

Here are the 2×4 lengths you’ll need:

  • (5) 93″ for the lengthwise supports
  • (4) 17″ for the width-wise supports
  • (4) 36″ for the legs
  • (2) 24″ for the caster supports

Tip (Updated 1/15/2012): We’ve begun building workbenches for specific tools (like our miter saw), and we have adjusted the leg height so that the top of miter saw cutting surface perfectly matches our other workbenches. This is beneficial because now any of our workbenches can act as an infeed or outfeed support. For this an other workbench ideas, check out our four workbench mod suggestions.

Step 2: Add Reinforcing Iron Supports

Our biggest complaint with many DIY workbenches is their limited vertical rigidity. Most other workbenches will sag in the middle, because it’s difficult to support an 8′ span without some deflection. Furthermore, adding extra width-wise members does not increase vertical support over the entire length. To address this problem, we used the flat, iron bars to reinforce two of the lengthwise 2×4’s.

Using a metal drill bit, we drilled five pilot holes through the iron.

Next, we put down a bead of Liquid Nails adhesive.

We followed that up with five screws, keeping the iron flush with the edge.

Step 3: Build the Workbench Frame

It’s time to start assembling the frame, and we began with the workbench top (rather than the shelf). Placing a Simpson tie at each corner, we used an impact driver to put in the screws. If you find the 2×4’s are bowed, put them in crown-side up (meaning, arched down). It’s helpful to use a scrap piece of 2×4 to ensure that adjacent pieces line up at the same height.

You can see in the picture below that the table legs come all the way up even with the top of the adjacent 2×4 supports. This is important. If they are not aligned, your dimensions will be wrong, and the corners will be weaker.

We secured another lengthwise support down the middle of the workbench (12″ on center). We put two 3″ screws on each end to hold it in place.

Step 4: Build the Shelf Frame

We constructed the shelf in a very similar fashion using Simpson ties at all four corners. We flipped the table upside-down to slide the ties on, and then positioned them 7″ up the leg. The location is flexible, but they all should be kept consistent. One difference between the lower shelf and upper shelf is that we didn’t use the iron or the extra support member on the lower shelf. This shelf will be plenty strong, and we weren’t concerned with a little bit of deflection here.

Use the remaining lengthwise and width-wise supports to build the shelf frame.

Step 5: Cut the Shelf Corners

The plywood shelf needs to have notches cut from each corner to account for the table legs. Grab a scrap piece of 2×4 and trace the outline, being careful to orient it correctly. Use a jigsaw to cut them out.

Step 6: Screw Down the Plywood

Slide the shelf in place and put screws around the perimeter every 20″ or so. Countersink the screws below the surface to prevent things getting snagged on them. Do the same for the workbench top, and remember to put screws in the middle support as well. You may find that you’ll need to wrack the frame a bit to keep everything square and all the edges lined up.

Tip: We’ve incorporated some reader feedback and found that creating torsion boxes further improves the rigidity of the top shelf. This is an easy addition because all it involves is gluing and screwing another piece of plywood to the underside of the top shelf. To see more pictures and information, check out our update with four workbench modifications.

Step 7: Caster Supports and Casters

We wanted to install casters so that our workbench could move about the shop as necessary. We found 3″, locking casters that were rated for 110 lbs each (440 lbs combined). Screwing them into the end-grain of the table legs doesn’t provide the best hold so we added a cross member between the two legs.

The Finished Product

We’re really pleased with the finished product; the workbench top feels very solid. Even with a couple of hundred pounds on the surface, we didn’t notice any sagging. It’ll be a great surface for future projects, and the shelf is already getting loaded up.

For additional ideas about building shelves, check out our other article describing how we built shed storage shelves.

Reader Workbenches

We’ve had a significant number of readers let us know that they’ve built workbenches from our design, and they all love ‘em! If anyone else has built (or is planning on building) one of these workbenches, we hope you’ll send in pictures so that we can feature them here.

From Todd B.
I just finished and this workbench is awesome. It is super sturdy and rugged. Thanks for the idea! This thing will last forever.

From Ryan M.

From Mark S.
This is probably one of many but I really enjoyed the design you created.

I needed a custom size for my motorcycle shed to allow for a lift between the workbenches. I decided to go with 4×4 supports so used the Simpson Strong-ties to fit that, then I had a local powder coating shop color them gloss black.  I also used the Simpson post base (that comes in black already) so I could anchor the bench to the floor if I wanted.

From Kyle D.
I built the bench from the design from above.  I love it.  Very strong and mobile.  Perfect fit for my garage.

From Matt D.
I love the wheels, great to be able to move it to the middle of the garage when using it for big projects and put it aside when not in use.

From Jared
Used your plans with a little modification to build my workbench. Added a 12 plug strip to the underside, and gave the brackets a coat of paint before starting.

photo_1

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Conversation on This Article

115 Responses to How to Build a Heavy Duty Workbench

  • Tom responds...
    December 20th, 2011 9:53 am

    That is awesome. Making a workbench is on my to-do list. I don’t have as big a space for a bench that big, so I think I’m going to use this tutorial and half it. Thank you!
    Tom

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    Tom, I think this is the first time I’ve seen you comment (or at least, the first time I remember seeing your Gravatar!). Welcome to OPC! Have you created a project rewards account yet?

    [Reply]

  • Sean @ AlaGBS / SLS Construction responds...
    December 20th, 2011 10:45 am

    Very nice job, but I do have two suggestions to help you improve the rigidity more… The first is to not only screw the plywood down, but to glue it. The second is to place a 3/8 or 1/2 sheet under the frame (also glued & screwed) You have now basically created a box beam which can handle quite a bit more of a load

    If you are worried about replacing the 3/4 sheet if it ever gets damaged, using the above you could easily use a 5/8 sheet instead (the combination should easilhandlede the loads) & simply screw a piece of luan, melamine, etc… to the top of that as a disposable piece

    [Reply]

    Ethan Reply:

    We debated gluing the plywood as well, especially because we already had the Liquid Nails handy. We opted not to because I thought it might be a little overkill. When we build the next one, I’ll glue the plywood too.

    I hadn’t considered the additional plywood underneath. Good tip for the readers.

    I like the idea of a disposable piece on top. That’s something we’ll have to consider. Thanks for the great suggestions!

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    Sean, love the box beam addition to the instructions. We have another 3 tables to build. We’ll have to give this a try on one of them and compare the deflection of the tables!

    [Reply]

    jeff_williams Reply:

    With so many to build you can customize them for uses. You can box beam one (or torsion box), have one with a thicker top for bench dog holes and a wood working vice, put a piece of stainless on one for easy cleanup of messy items, and have things like a metal vice, bench grinder, and drill press mounted to the first one you made. If you have a portable table saw you could make one of your benches the same height so you could use it for outfeed support (and cover it with melamine).

    I wish I had the space for 4 benches. Too bad we need the garage for cars in the winter.

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    Sean, we’ll definitely write more about this, but today we built another table and made the top shelf the torsion box/box beam and…. WOW – unbelievable how solid it is. I got my 250lb. self on the top of the shelf and started jumping and ethan could not detect any deflection on the surface. Great tip. We’ll be updating this article to reflect these additional instructions.

    [Reply]

    Sean @ AlaGBS / SLS Construction Reply:

    My pleasure, now you can make the check payable to….

    Nah, just kidding you & besides I can’t take full credit for it anyways – I think I heard about it first from Norm Abrahms & you will also see that same principle is helps what makes SIPS panels so strong, etc… But yeah it is quite amazing how much stronger it makes it & glad I could help

    [Reply]

  • Icarus responds...
    December 20th, 2011 11:41 am

    Very nice. May I suggest attaching some type of power strip underneath it?

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    Icarus, I think that’s definitely coming to the design… For one, with all the battery chargers on this table, we simply don’t have enough plugs. For two, if you use the table for a table saw or mitre saw, it’s nice to have the permanent plug there. Good tip!

    [Reply]

  • jeff_williams responds...
    December 20th, 2011 11:49 am

    I have a similar bench but with a few additions and changes. The first is that I doubled up the top sheet of plywood. It works a lot better to mount things to it. Bench dog holes are stiffer. Vice is a lot more solid. I used cheaper A/C plywood and just sanded the top. The second thing is that I added a very short lip on the back of the top to keep things from sliding off the back of the bench. Mine isn’t on wheels though and is mounted against a wall. The lip also makes it easier to sweep the top. The third thing I did was to not make the bottom shelf come all the way out to the front edge. It is set back about 6 inches. That makes for a really comfortable foot rest when I have a stool up at the bench. The forth thing is that I built a couple of drawers the are mounted under the top to hold boxes of screws and nails. I love the addition of the flat bar stock.

    The great thing about workbenches is that they can customized for a person’s needs. They are a great first project for any aspiring DIY’er.

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    I think we need to have a “Send in your workbench” photo contest so we can get all these ideas into one place. I really like Sean’s suggestion above for the replaceable luan. What thickness plywood did you install? Two sheets of 3/4″?

    [Reply]

    jeff_williams Reply:

    1/2 and 5/8.

    [Reply]

  • Joe responds...
    December 20th, 2011 3:28 pm

    Looks nice and solid with the Simpson hangers and the extra iron bar. not having the space for a 8′ work bench in my garage, I only have a 4′ one.
    Since I have a foundation in the way, I put my shelf right at that level, so I could keep the bench right up against the wall. The rear legs are shorter and sit on top of the foundation, the front legs go all the way to the floor.

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    I know exactly what you mean about the shelf on the foundation ledge. We considered doing something like that until we settled on the mobile versions of the tables… Did you also fasten the bench to the studs on the wall?

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Yep, since the legs aren’t really tied together front to back, I really needed the wall to add rigidity, it also let me get it perfectly level.

    [Reply]

  • Stuey@ToolGuyd responds...
    December 20th, 2011 5:58 pm

    Very nice work!

    I used the same Simpson plates in my 4′ build, and they’ve held up well after a few years. Instead of going with a plywood top, I opted for Ikea countertop material. For my next self-built table, I’ll likely go with bamboo. Or maybe 2/3 bamboo, 1/3 easily replaceable/repairable material.

    [Reply]

  • doublemint2x responds...
    December 20th, 2011 8:11 pm

    That is a nice looking workbench. I also have this on my to-do list. I was thinking about using a Kreg jig to join everything together (but that may not be quite as heavy-duty). Have you ever thought about staining the top and adding polyurethane to it. Might be worth it if you are going to have it around for a while.

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    We did consider staining the top, but I think we’re going to opt for the replaceable luan surface that Sean recommended. And possibly one table with a thicker surface for bench dog holes like Jeff recommends.

    While we’re big fans of the kreg jig, I think it’s a better solution for finished carpentry than this application. The simpson plates are going to give you a lot more strength and rigidity in the joint, which is important since the plates are what prevents the entire shelf from racking (in other words, the simpson plates act as diagonal braces on the end of the wood. If you didn’t have them you’d also need some diagonal bracing to prevent your rectangular table from turning into a parallelogram )

    [Reply]

  • Marc responds...
    December 21st, 2011 2:03 am

    Nice clean bench / Ethan nap station gents! I like the Simpson Strong Ties too, they’re not only solid but also give a nice industrial look to the corners. Having the mobility with the casters is handy too. Slick!

    [Reply]

  • TheFonz responds...
    December 21st, 2011 2:25 pm

    this is a very nice and simple design of sturdy bench. one suggestion i have is adding a reciever hitch on the bottom side of table, then weld a square tubing that fits the receiver and a piece of plate to the tubing, then mount your vice on the plate. What you have now is a removable vice that can moved out of the way quickly when needed. The same idea can be applied to your miter saw. Mount the reciever hitch on the side (short side) to where the table of the saw and the table itself are leveled, so now you have a an 8ft long leveled surface to put your boards on and cut and the miter saw could be removable also . Now you dont have to be bend over on the floor, as pictured, making sure your board is leveled etc. Hope this helps. ill try to find the links of where i saw this idea.

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    I totally get what you’re saying here and like the idea. Seems like it might be a little complex though to get your table saw supported by a welded tube? Right now, we’re likely going to build to smaller, mobile mini-table-units that will be tailored to our table saw and mitre saw. The goal will be to make these mini-tables a height at which the table saw or mitre saw surface are aligned to our larger tables’ surfaces. Then we can use the larger tables as infeed or outfeed (or both) as it makes sense.

    [Reply]

  • John Poole responds...
    December 28th, 2011 2:05 am

    Love this project, but I have a few questions: With your emphasis on eliminating deflection, why not simply have added two more width-wise supports, top and bottom, right in the center of the bench, a third pair of vertical posts (joined to the center supports at each end), and one more pair of casters (one under each center post)? It would cost a bit more money, but (as long as your shop floor is relatively flat) I believe it’d almost guarantee no deflection of the bench top, and furthermore, would enhance the rigidity of the overall infrastructure. Also, why aren’t there any 45-degree braces at each post top and bottom? I know the Simpson ties are very strong, but braces would take that much more horizontal load off the joints when wheeling the benches around. That’s it…nice job, guys!

    [Reply]

    Ethan Reply:

    Hey John, We thought about adding a third vertical post but decided against it for the better storage and, like you point out, because our way is cheaper. Making triangles (with the angled braces) is a great way to support the bench, but these Simpson ties really eliminate the need. And again, it keeps the bottom shelf very open for storage.

    Great to see you commenting, and I hope you’ll chime in again!

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    John, one more thing: we are planning to run an update, but after we glued and screwed a piece of plywood to both the top and bottom, the top shelf is now incredibly rigid. It almost blows my mind, actually. I got my 250 lb. self onto the top shelf and jumped and Ethan could not see deflection. The suggestion for the additional plywood underneath came from Sean @ SLS (see above comments) – and for essentially an additional 20 bucks and just 3/8″ of space consumed, seems like the best answer so far. We’re going to do some rigidity tests between our two benches in the near future just to see how they both perform.

    [Reply]

  • John Poole responds...
    December 28th, 2011 7:22 pm

    Ethan & Fred,

    Thanks very much for your responses. I’m looking forward to any future updates you do on your work bench building efforts. And be forewarned: I have no shortage of need for workbenches (which is a roundabout way of saying that I need more benches!). I’m going to build one based on your original design, and try out a few of my own variations on it, as well. So we’ll see who deflects the least — in other words, the friendly competition is on! :-D

    ~John

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    Sounds good! We’re looking forward to some great pictures or a video!

    [Reply]

  • Sam responds...
    December 30th, 2011 2:10 pm

    Great project…I am prepariing to build at least one bench for my shop….how did you decide on the 40 inch height?

    Thanks . Any input is appreciated

    Sam

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    Sam,

    We actually went for a comfortable work height that maximized storage location under the top shelf.

    In our shop, we mounted receptacles sideways at around 44 inches high, with pegboard starting right above those at about 47 inches. 40″ put the surface just below the receptacles and maximized the height below.

    Both Ethan and I are pretty tall, so 40″ is pretty manageable for us. I would suggest building the bench with your use in mind. (i.e., if you’re mostly going to stand it front of it, build for that. If you plan to put a stool in front of it, build for that). Note that one suggestion above is to recess the bottom shelf if you plan to sit in front of it so you’ll have good knee room.

    [Reply]

    Sam Reply:

    Thanks. I am glad I found your site….looking forward to more good info and projects!

    Hope you and yours have a safe New Year holiday.

    Sam

    [Reply]

    Ethan Reply:

    Hey Sam, I see Fred got you an answer before I did. Hope to see you around the site again!

    [Reply]

  • Jonathan responds...
    January 4th, 2012 4:15 pm

    Great stuff! Quick question where did you source your caster wheels?

    Thanks!
    Jonathan

    [Reply]

    Ethan Reply:

    Hey Jonathan, The wheels are available at Home Depot and Lowe’s. Thanks for stopping by and we hope to see you around again!

    [Reply]

  • brbtr responds...
    February 22nd, 2012 2:30 pm

    Thanks for the detailed article and followup…only, it’s making my decision on what to build harder, rather than easier!

    [Reply]

  • theDIYvillage responds...
    February 25th, 2012 12:25 am

    I’ll be replacing my existing workbench with this plan very soon! Thanks for the great tutorial! I’ll send you pics when I get it done.

    [Reply]

    Ethan Reply:

    Looking forward to your pictures!

    [Reply]

  • HANDYMAN51 responds...
    February 25th, 2012 9:48 pm

    If I had the garage space, the money, and the time…… My Dad always talks about being buried in a wooden casket. This might be a nice platform to wheel it in and out of the church! A wooden casket build might be something you could feature!

    [Reply]

  • Terk responds...
    April 6th, 2012 6:41 pm

    Great write up on a fairly common problem – where to work on all of my DIY projects??? This seems to be a straightforward answer. I’m headed to Home Depot tonight to grab the Simpson ties and put this together for myself! I think that I will be putting a setback in where the bottom shelf is so I can fit my stools under it though. A submit your own workbench picture is a great idea! Keep the good stuff coming!

    [Reply]

  • Travis responds...
    April 9th, 2012 2:33 pm

    I like this simple design a lot. I already built a workbench that is more like a piece of furniture and it was a good challenge. I did want to point one thing out though. The “Reinforcing Iron Supports” are not doing much for you in the location you put them. If you are going to add them (which I don’t think you need them honestly), put them on the bottom side of the 2×4 stretcher since that is the side that is in tension. The steel bar is MUCH stronger in tension than in compression as it is placed in your picture. This comes from an understanding of bending stress in a uniform member. The engineer in me felt the need to provide that PSA. Otherwise, the whole design follows the KISS principle and I fully plan to build one like what you have done for your compound miter saw. Excellent write up.

    [Reply]

    Ethan Reply:

    Hi Travis, Thanks for the comment.

    Maybe I’m thinking about it wrong (and you can better explain it to me)- the steel bar bends from side-to-side but not up-and-down. Since we’re trying to improve the up-and-down rigidity, doesn’t it make sense to place the steel bar where we have it?

    Glad you like the workbench, and I hope to see you around OPC again!

    [Reply]

    Travis Reply:

    Ethan, when you push down on the top, the sides bend down as you stated. The bottom of the beam stretches and the top compresses. All materials are stronger in compression than tension so what needs additional strengthening is the side of the beam in tension. Now the steel flat bar is very strong when being pulled but if you were to push the ends towards each other, the bar would just buckle. So you put the steel strap loaded in its strongest direction on the weakest side of the beam – where everything is in tension. By fastening the bar to the side, you are constraining it from the weak side-to-side deflection. I hope this helps explain but you would be much better served to put your strip on the bottom side.

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    I think the confusion here is what Travis means by “bottom”. I don’t hink he’s referring to the underside (the 1-/12″ edge) of the 2×4. I think he means the “lower” edge of the 3-1/2″ side, rather that the upper edge right up by the top.

    In other words, instead of:

    **********************************************************
    [[[[[[[[[[[[[HERE]]]]]]]]]]]]]]

    **********************************************************

    …I think he means:

    **********************************************************

    [[[[[[[[[[[[[HERE]]]]]]]]]]]]]]
    **********************************************************

    Or I could just be wrong. :-)

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    well that didn’t display correctly. Let’s try again:

    ********************
    NOT HERE
    *
    *
    ********************

    ********************
    *
    *
    HERE
    ********************

    Travis Reply:

    Fred, you understood correctly the location I was referring to except that either the underside (the 1-/12″ edge) of the 2×4 OR the lower” edge of the 3-1/2″ side would be fine to add support. Great pictures BTW. It’s funny, I tried explaining bending stresses (tension and compression) and how the neutral axis works to my wife last night and her eyes just glazed over. So I’m sorry if I glazed anybody’s eyes in the previous discussion. I’m an engineer, I need diagrams to explain things much like an Italian (and others) need their hands to talk.

  • Felix responds...
    April 12th, 2012 2:27 pm

    This is the project that brought me to this site, coming from Art of Manliness. I like the design a lot, but I have to build a shed/workshop first. Once upon a time in a workshop lost to antiquity I had a 10ft work bench made of 2x6x10’s. Sag was not a problem, because I had legs in the middle of the table as well. Also I have to say that a 4×8 sheet of stainless screwed down on the top would go a long way to preserving your table top. I taught metal working (nothing you’d be looking to do on this site) but I had more students pressing a chuck of metal or wood down on the top, and then trying to run a drill bit through it. Of course then they would get the safety lecture, and the lecture on using the proper tool to accomplish the task. Thanks for this design, and I will be using it very soon.

    [Reply]

    Ethan Reply:

    Hi Felix, Welcome to OPC and thanks for leaving a comment! We thought about putting some legs in the middle, but ultimately decided to keep the space as open as possible. The stainless sounds like a great idea especially for our bench top grinder. Any ideas about where it’s available?

    I hope to see you around OPC again.

    [Reply]

    Felix Reply:

    Most metal fabrication shops are also retailers of steel. Here in Sacramento we have a place called blue collar supply. We used to have S&K Steel, but the owner decided the retired life was much better.

    [Reply]

  • Lachlan responds...
    May 2nd, 2012 7:37 pm

    Awesome project. I’ve just finished a miniature (3′) one for my miter saw and I’m about to build a second one with the remaining plywood, but I’ve got a problem. Even with the locking casters locked, it’s easy to make the table move about 2″ in any direction. Is this the expected outcome, or have I just used the wrong casters? This will drive me crazy, since I regularly break out the tenon saw for fine work.

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    Lachlan, is this because the casters are flipping around?

    [Reply]

    Lachlan Reply:

    Yes, I think flipping correctly describes the problem. It’s really hard to think of terminology to accurately describe the problem. The wheel itself is locked, but the bearing that lets it pivot is free. So the wheel can pivot (like when you turn the steering wheel in a parked car). Unlike a car, the wheel isn’t centered under the steering pivot, so the pivoting causes the workbench to move.

    I’ve just tried making sure that all the wheels are pointing outwards at 90 degrees to each-other, which ought to reduce the range of motion available. This approximately halves the movement, but it’s still noticeable.

    [Reply]

    Lachlan Reply:

    For anyone who has the same issue, just replace the two casters at the sawing end with two wheels. In theory, a set of locking wheels would be better than the non-locking ones I used, but they wouldn’t really affect the axis I’m interested in, so I’m happy with the cheaper option.

  • ErWhite responds...
    August 11th, 2012 3:05 pm

    I may have to ‘borrow’ some of this for my next work bench with very few modifications. Quick question/suggestion, when installing the table top beams (or supports as i think they were referred to as) I would recommend IMHO that the steel reinforcement would be better suited on the tension side of the beam, in other words on the bottom of the beam nor nearest the bottom vs the top as you have shown in the photo.
    Placing the steel at the bottom allows the steel to work in tension where it is much more rigid than the wood (E_steel >> E_wood) (think singly reinforced concrete beams). If splintering was not an issue i would think installing 1.5″ wide strip on the bottom 2x side of the 2×4 would be most optimal. Since wood does splinter i would maybe have turned your beams upside down but left the steel attached to the 4x side.

    [Reply]

  • Jason responds...
    August 12th, 2012 9:19 am

    The simpson ties are a great idea. I’ve been looking for some plans to rebuild my basement workbench, this looks awesome!

    -Jason

    [Reply]

  • poiboybf responds...
    August 12th, 2012 9:57 am

    What height do you guys use for your tabletops (for the bench, miter, etc)? 36 seems to work for me, but just wondering if you have another preference.

    [Reply]

    Lachlan Reply:

    Hi Poiboybf,

    Mine are about 48″ (eyeballed), but I’m crazily tall. When I built a 2′ by 3′ second one of these workbenches just for my mitre saw, I made the legs shorter so that the saw’s deck is exactly the same height as my other workbench tops. Now I don’t need to use in-feed supports, because I have an 8′ table to hold the wood on.

    So just pick a height that feels good for you, then feel free to modify it to suit what you use the table for. You can always unscrew the legs and put on a new set.

    [Reply]

  • JustME responds...
    August 13th, 2012 11:05 pm

    This would also make a great craft table or cutting table for a seamstress Ethan. We often use Simpson Ties when building things. They’re awesome.

    [Reply]

  • HANDYMAN51 responds...
    August 15th, 2012 6:21 pm

    Hope you had a great vacation in Jamaica! A ” re-run” on an article is fine. Did you bring home a souvenir U Bolt?

    [Reply]

  • trebor responds...
    August 15th, 2012 10:53 pm

    First time to the article but by now it’s fitting to ask: how has the top held up? Have you made any other workbenches with the above suggested materials?

    I’m new to the construction game so something like this is perfect to build some confidence in my skills with a very practical project. I’m moving in 6 months or so but this will be started shortly thereafter

    [Reply]

    Ethan Reply:

    Hey Trebor,

    The benches have held up great, and I have no complaints. Altogether we have four workbenches that follow this basic design, and I’m really pleased with them.

    [Reply]

  • Arianna Davis responds...
    August 16th, 2012 12:48 pm

    Great pictures! I’ve been thinking about something to do for my dad for his birthday, and this might be just the project! Although he’ll probably want to help build it with me.

    [Reply]

  • tommyo responds...
    August 17th, 2012 1:26 am

    Unfortunately I have no more room for an additional bench since I built one attached to the wall, but I will be building a movable work island using the Simpson hardware. make the process so much more simple.

    [Reply]

  • edpsmith responds...
    August 18th, 2012 6:14 pm

    I really like the work bench project. I have been looking for plans for a heavy duty work bench and now found one. I will be doing this soon. The equipment I repair will fit well on this work station.

    [Reply]

  • mArBLe responds...
    September 11th, 2012 2:44 am

    Great project.
    I am currently researching for my upcoming workbench, which I will plan to build during the coming months (right after we redid our drainage (don’t know if that is the correct word in english?) around the cellar walls) and this article will come in handy.

    The main features I have been looking for (which is also how I found this article by Googling) is a big, sturdy and mobile workbench.

    A couple of things I am concerned with though in regards to having casters/wheels on the workbench, is first if the casters/wheels will hold the weight of everything (and not loosen from the screw joints) and also how to get the workbench completely still when locking the wheels.

    It seems some other people here have had problems with the workbench moving even though the casters have been locked.

    How is your workbench in regards to these matters?

    [Reply]

    Ethan Reply:

    Hi mArBLe,

    Welcome to OPC. I hope you’ll stop back again. Feel free to email me pics of your workbench. I’d love to add them to the article!

    The casters are rated for the weight so there’s no problem there. That additional cross-member was added to ensure a good mounting surface, and we haven’t had any problems with the joints loosening. There is a slight movement even when the casters are locked. It’s almost undetectable with the larger workbenches. If you need something that will remain completely still, you might just slip a block underneath. It’s not an elegant solution, but it’s easy.

    [Reply]

  • JMPyle responds...
    September 20th, 2012 8:41 am

    I built this bench a few months back, and it’s the best thing I’ve done for my shop. On nice days I can pull it out and put it on the driveway and work outside. I still need to add a power strip. I’m also thinking of adding a mini-vacuum set up to the under side of the table with some on board hose storage. When I get to this, I’ll shoot you some pics.

    [Reply]

  • JMPyle responds...
    September 20th, 2012 8:42 am

    I also like how this bench uses the Simpson connectors. Makes the pieces easy to replace if one of them becomes damaged or sags.

    [Reply]

  • Jon Schell responds...
    October 2nd, 2012 9:02 pm

    I just built this bench a few weeks ago but opted to leave the casters off. This thing is rock solid. I’ve since passed it along to some friends of mine. Good stuff.

    [Reply]

    Ethan Reply:

    Glad to hear you like it so much! Send in some pictures, and I’ll add ‘em to the article.

    [Reply]

  • Seth responds...
    October 3rd, 2012 1:22 pm

    I really like this design and I’m planning to make one much like this for my very first workbench. One question: Is this bench top sturdy enough to mount a vice & have some dog holes in it? I’m interested in getting started in woodworking and I think a good vice with bench dogs is just about a prerequisite for a woodworking workbench.

    [Reply]

    Seth Reply:

    Oh yeah….if this bench is NOT suited for the vice/dogs, any suggestions for modifications that would make it so?

    [Reply]

    Ethan Reply:

    The one problems is that the “top” is not a solid piece of wood. It’s more of a box beam structure and that wouldn’t work well for bench dogs. Maybe if you put a solid piece overtop it would work…

    [Reply]

  • Andrew responds...
    October 6th, 2012 7:34 pm

    Ethan and Fred

    Thank you for posting this, I have been thinking of making a workbench for some time and your guys design is really nice and the Simpson ties are a great idea. I first saw it on The Art of Manliness.com and went to your website from there. I just have one question where did you guys get the flat iron bar for support?

    Thank you
    Andrew

    [Reply]

    Ethan Reply:

    Hey Andrew,

    Glad you found us! The flat iron is available at HD and probably Lowe’s too. It’s usually right next to the angle iron. Send in some pics when you finish your workbench.

    [Reply]

  • brianv responds...
    October 18th, 2012 11:25 am

    I’m new here and I found the article for the workbench at the Art of Manliness web site. I built this bench last weekend and was amazed at how easy it was. Thank you guys! I made a few modifications for my particular situation. I’ll try to remember to send in photos. One thing I wanted to comment on is the bars of flat iron. You will want to paint those or coat them with oil or grease or petroleum jelly to keep them from rusting depending on your local environment.

    [Reply]

    Ethan Reply:

    Hey BrianV,

    I’m glad you found us! Please do email me pics of your workbench, and I’m glad it was so easy. Thanks for the tip about the flat iron. I haven’t noticed any problems here yet. I hope to see you around OPC.

    [Reply]

  • Kurt responds...
    November 13th, 2012 7:52 pm

    I’m thinking of putting this bench together using 4×4 legs instead of the 2×4’s. Is there any reason I should avoid the use of the larger cuts? Also, if I use 4×4’s do I still need the caster supports to avoid using the end-grain of the wood? Thanks.

    [Reply]

  • dooley81 responds...
    November 24th, 2012 11:33 pm

    just purchased the materials today, will build tomorrow and share the results! looks great, thanks for the idea!

    [Reply]

    dooley81 Reply:

    Just finished the build, fantastic workbench! Very pleased!

    [Reply]

  • brokad responds...
    November 28th, 2012 1:15 pm

    I am new to the site and was looking over this awesome workbench post that we are going to try to put together. I was wondering if you ever have a price breakdown of what an entire project costs (not including tools) so we could see if it would be too expensive to start undertaking beforehand? Thanks so much! Kadra

    [Reply]

  • supimeister responds...
    December 14th, 2012 11:45 am

    this is a great build… i might halve the length, but i like this design a lot

    [Reply]

  • Adam responds...
    January 7th, 2013 5:00 pm

    Id like to see more about how these Vises are detachable and mounted to a separate sheet

    [Reply]

  • andrewdeci responds...
    January 7th, 2013 7:14 pm

    A recent episode of This Old House featured the Cambridge House’s owner building a workbench in his basement. As an alternative to the torsion box, they used a solid core interior door. Interesting idea, provided you’re okay with the dimensions!

    [Reply]

  • Garage Workbench | Not a Holocron responds...
    February 16th, 2013 1:53 pm

    […] Original source for plans:  http://www.oneprojectcloser.com/how-to-build-heavy-duty-workbench/ […]

  • Garage Workbench #2 | Not a Holocron responds...
    February 16th, 2013 2:17 pm

    […] middle crossbars, similar to the plans of that inspired my design, but did not use that for the shelf […]

  • Tony Rollin responds...
    March 2nd, 2013 12:37 am

    I didn’t realize until after I was done I had put the legs in backwards. I looked at the balance of your plan after the fact. I made a 4×4 for the casters, but it’s not as strong as yours. I did add a 2×4 between the short ends of the legs to add strength. It’s not going anywhere, but I wish I had looked at your plans beforehand. I guess I dived into it too quickly.

    I ended up building two 24″ by 48″. I don’t have the legnth concern, and they’ll be perfect for cutting (i.e.saw horses). Cost $230 bucks (bang!) and I’m not even using glue. I have more storage space underneath, because I don’t need more than a 20″ height for the shelves.

    They’re going to be great. Nice plan by the original designer.

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    Well in this case, we were the original designers :-) The idea generally came from some shelves I saw a while ago that used Simpson Ties – they really make this project come together and are the key ingredient.

    [Reply]

  • Bob Jungman responds...
    March 25th, 2013 12:18 pm

    I thouhgt I posted this yesterday but I see I did not….This is a good article. I will build it. I also looked at it in the Art of Manliness and have seen a few differences I would like to understand:

    1. This one has 93 inch boards for the length and the Art has 90 inch; is the difference the overhang?

    2. Does the bottom 3/4″ plywood piece and both 3/8″ plywood pieces need to be cut down in the Art article?

    3. Would using a support board under the shelf be useful?

    Many thanks…Bob

    [Reply]

    Fred Reply:

    Bob, I answered this comment over on this post:

    http://www.oneprojectcloser.com/four-workbench-projects-based-mostly-on-your-feedback/

    [Reply]

  • Bruce responds...
    March 28th, 2013 4:53 pm

    Fred,
    Really like this heavy duty workbench, planning to build it in the next month or so.
    Can you advise how i would attach a vise to this bench. I think the vise i am referring to is called a “metal workers” vise.
    Since the top part of the bench is a torsion box and hollow on the inside how would i bolt on the vise?

    thanks

    [Reply]

    Sean @ SLS Construction Solutions Reply:

    Bruce there are a few ways to doing it – one is if you know the exact locations (i.e. predrill the holes) you can actually add in PVC pipe to act as a filler / sleeve with maybe another piece of ply or two to help keep them in place
    The easiest method though would be to glue in a 4x in the area that the vise will go
    Either which way I would urge using some caution on the loads you will be applying to it

    [Reply]

    Bruce Reply:

    Thanks Sean,
    I will not be applying any major loads. I just want to have a vice to hold “stuff” in place while i work on it.
    I might look at adding a tail vice also

    thanks again

    [Reply]

  • Thomas responds...
    May 19th, 2013 12:32 am

    Finally made the workbench after finding your site 5 or 6 months ago. Part for part, cut for cut, and I actually got a blister putting in all those screws! It is solid and will serve me well for years. Thank you for putting this out there to be found…

    [Reply]

    Scott P Reply:

    Yeah I have a blister on my hand as well but it was well worth it.

    [Reply]

  • Rod responds...
    May 30th, 2013 9:53 am

    I just built a variation of this bench. I an also interested in mounting a vise. By mounting a “4x”, does Sean mean cutting a piece out of the bottom of the torsion box and gluing a piece of 4×4 wood post to the bottom of the bench surface? If so, I assume you would then drill the mounting holes through the bench surface and the 4×4? How would this affect the rigidity of the rest of the bench surface?

    [Reply]

  • supimeister responds...
    May 30th, 2013 3:44 pm

    I keep coming back to this article again and again as I am thinking through what I want in my workbench… this is really, really well done. If I didn’t make it as long, are the metal braces still necessary?

    [Reply]

  • Scott P responds...
    July 26th, 2013 6:44 pm

    Just built this thing and man is this thing strong. The only problem is that it is a little high for shorter people like myself and I would probably suggest cutting the legs around 33-34″ I am 5’5.

    Also with wood prices through the roof it ended up costing close to $200.00

    [Reply]

  • miah responds...
    August 5th, 2013 9:16 am

    Love this workbench! Now I just need to build a workshop to put it in!

    [Reply]

  • Hex92 responds...
    September 4th, 2013 10:48 am

    Awesome bench. Built it last weekend. I skipped the metal braces and did the glued and screwed torsion box mod with 3/4″ plywood on top and 3/8″ on the bottom. This thing is sturdy as can be. Like others have said it costs ~$200 now.

    FYI: Home Depot carries the Simpson ties. Lowes is phasing them out to carry some other brand.

    [Reply]

  • Mike responds...
    October 22nd, 2013 6:54 pm

    What kind of screws did you use to attach the plywood?

    [Reply]

  • Jack Lowe responds...
    October 24th, 2013 10:39 pm

    If you have 17″ width wise support butted up to the legs with 4″ each, that equals 25″… Is that right or is my math just off? Is there supposed to be 1″ extra? I’m sure I’m missing something easy, just doesn’t add up to fit a 24″ top and shelf depth.

    [Reply]

  • Chuck responds...
    December 16th, 2013 12:57 pm

    Very fun build. Took me around 12 hours to complete /w painting, cutting, screwing.

    [Reply]

    Chuck Reply:

    [IMG]http://i.imgur.com/jn9bkzr.jpg[/IMG]

    [Reply]

  • Nick Hughes responds...
    January 2nd, 2014 9:33 am

    great build. i am thinking to do a build like this only problem is living in Australia i cant find the right size wood to match the brackets

    [Reply]

  • Mike responds...
    January 26th, 2014 11:18 am

    I am going with the original design. but if you really wanted to save money you could scrap the wheels and also the bottom brackets. Could use the 2 long support beams on the bottom as well as the side support beams and place the plywood on top of that. Just nail those beams to the frame. That would save you 4 brackets @ $8.00 and 4 wheels @ $7.00 ($60.00).. again. Just an idea to save money. For the average homeowner, the bench should not sag.. Especially if you don’t really care if the bottom sags a bit.

    [Reply]

  • John responds...
    January 31st, 2014 10:58 pm

    Really interested in making this bench, but I’m wondering the best way to get an overhang for clamping on at least 3 sides. And also to recess the bottom shelf.

    [Reply]

  • Juan responds...
    February 27th, 2014 12:01 am

    I wouldn’t call this a workbench…It’s essentially a two-shelf storage cart on casters.
    Not a very versatile design if you can’t modify the dimensions.

    [Reply]

  • Juan responds...
    February 27th, 2014 12:08 am

    I built a real, working, rock-solid, rigid, flat and square, non-racking, workman’s workbench with a quick-release vise I got off craigslst using home depot Doug fir 2 x 4s for a total price of $75 for the lumber plus Two bottles of tite bond wood glue and hand tools. Built it over a month. Rock-solid and will last me a lifetime. It’s a flexible design and ooks great too.

    [Reply]

  • Charlie responds...
    March 21st, 2014 7:57 am

    Nice tutorial! I built a similar workbench a few years back. Wish I would have thought of using the Simpson ties. They definitely add a lot of rigidity without having to cut a bunch of angle braces on the miter saw.

    [Reply]

  • Gregg Winingar responds...
    April 25th, 2014 11:25 pm

    Just finished this project. Extremely pleased. Sanded and stained top plywood and applied 3 coats of poly, sanding between each one. Very slick and I feel more durable. One question, I noticed you went with the gray rubber castors. Any concern that the rubber might develop flat spot after sitting in one spot for a while?? I went with the black hard rubber castors just in case. I considered going with all metal castors, but thought that might be overkill. Thanks for the great plans for a workbench! Really enjoyed the build.
    Gregg

    [Reply]

  • David responds...
    May 1st, 2014 7:43 pm

    Great write-up here and on Art of Manliness.

    Questions…

    1. The workbench on AoM didn’t use the metal reinforcement bars. Have you found them unnecessary after implementing the torsion box design?
    2. If I do use the metal reinforcement bars is there any downside to mounting them to the inside of the 2×4 where they will be hidden from view inside the torsion box vs on the outside edges as in your OPC site workbenches?

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

  • Jason responds...
    May 4th, 2014 11:14 pm

    Thanks for this design! I used it for the bench I built today, without the casters and using an 88″ 2×4 longitudinal support instead of the 93″ one you used. Pics here: http://imgur.com/a/y08nE

    [Reply]

  • Raul Tasker responds...
    July 1st, 2014 12:56 pm

    The illustrations are what make this tutorial worth following. Just amazing detail and perfect instructions. And a workbench in the summer is perfect timing for me.

    [Reply]

  • bob responds...
    September 24th, 2014 5:33 am

    Great article. I started making this bench and ran into some problems. Unfortunately I’m working alone but managed to keep everything as level as possible. After building the frame I placed the plywood top on and it wouldn’t sit flush on the sides and corners. Leveling one side of the plywood makes the other end uneven and I can’t get it flush.
    I measured the frame and the table top and they are the same dimensions so I’m a little stumped. Any help or advice would be appreciated!

    [Reply]

    Trod Reply:

    Have you checked diagonal measurements of the frame and plywood? They can have the same length and width and still not be square.

    [Reply]

  • JimA in Chicago responds...
    December 7th, 2014 7:53 pm

    In Step 2, where you say “…limited vertical rigidity…” I think you mean “… limited horizontal rigidity…”.

    [Reply]





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