How To Design And Build A Garage Work Bench

Create a custom design for a workbench and buld it to fit just about any area of your garage

Having a convenient and usable workspace in the garage speeds up time spent on projects around the home and increases safety. A workbench can be designed around available space with two sheets of plywood and about five 12-foot lengths of 2x4 lumber. Note that 4x4 timber for the legs will provide a more rigid bench, but 2 x 4s will be adequate. Recalculate the lumber requirement after you determine the length of the table. This recommendation will allow for one or two open shelves under the right side of the workbench.

You will need these tools:

-Table saw (if you do not own one, have the plywood ripped to size at your home improvement store)

-Skill saw

-Wood glue

-Power drill for screws


-Framer's square

-Drywall screws, 2 3/4 inch

-Drywall screws, 1 3/4 inch

-Nails, 6d

-Tape measure

Choose the location for your workbench based on space and on available lighting and electricity. This will determine the length and width of the workbench.

For plywood, look for birch or other type of hardwood. You want a surface that will hold up to repeated pounding and other types of abuse. You can use exterior or interior grade for this purpose, but choose a 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch sheet. Check for defects in the wood and purchase the highest grade you can afford. Grade "A" is the best, Grade "B" will contain some small plugs, and Grade "C" will have larger plugs. Plywood may be composed of two different grades: one on the front side and one on the back.

A 3-foot width for the surface area is good, but you can make it wider or narrower; preferably not less than 24 inches. Determine the length by how much wall space you have. Ideally, you should have eight feet; this will give you plenty of room for most projects and reduce the number of plywood cuts for your table design.

When designing the frame for the base, allow plenty of room for a lip on the work surface. You will need this edge for mechanical clamps.

The frame should be 36-40 inches high. For a sturdy table, you will need to cut six 2x4 or 4x4 support legs - two at each end and two in the middle.

Build the top frame first. Attach the legs to each corner, running perpendicular to the longest sides. The middle legs should also attach in the same direction. Secure the legs with 2 3/4-inch drywall screws from the outside of the frame. Double check to make sure the frame is square and level.

It is easy to add a fluorescent work light: extend the two outer back legs to a height of 6-7 feet. Connect a 2x4 across the top and mounting is a snap. Add a power strip to a second, vertical drop-down board and you will always have enough AC outlet space. The top crossbar will also add extra stability to the bench.

You can now attach the bottom frame. Leave about two inches at the bottom so the frame is not resting directly on the floor. The frame will surround two sides, the back and half of the front. The front piece will provide extra support and you will still have toe space on the left side of the table. Note: it is easy to adjust your design to include shelves on the left and toe space on the right.

Cut two more crosspieces for shelves on the right side if you desire. You can use the scrap pieces of plywood to make shelves for this side. Attach the shelf supports to the inside of the middle legs and on one end. This step is optional if you do not choose to include shelves. Secure the supports flush to the outside of the legs and vertical to the floor on all four sides. Now you can attach the shelving to those supports. Depending on the scrap that is left from the tabletop pieces, you may not be able to cover the entire width. Leave a gap at the back. To keep items from falling off, tack on a piece of lumber as a stop.

Place the first tabletop piece of plywood on the frame and use 6d nails to attach at intervals of 6 inches. Spread the wood glue per manufacturer's instructions. Lay the second piece of plywood on top, press down, and use 1 3/4-inch drywall screws to fasten to the first sheet. Note that if you have extended the back legs for a mounted light, make the appropriate notches in your plywood first. Double plywood sheets will prevent the table from bowing and keep it sturdy regardless of the job.

The workbench is complete, except for staining or painting, if you choose. This simple design is easy to adapt to any size and should be stable enough for almost all home projects.

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