Want a solid workbench but don’t have the $$$? Well... can you spare a little time and throw down $30 for supplies?
Money can be tight. Even when it's not, I still go a little bonkers when I see the prices of some of these workbenches!
Look, it's a bench. If you take away the baffles and the trim, all you really need is WOOD and SCREWS. Oh, and tools.
What's it made from?
The main cost in any woodworking project is the wood. These, I got for a song. Actually, I didn't even have to sing, I just had to take a little time out of my busy Netflix schedule. How?
CONSTRUCTION SITES ARE CONSTANTLY THROWING STUDS OUT.
Typically, construction studs (not the that whistle and holler, the vertical wall kind...) come in all shapes and sizes, including UNUSABLE ones. If a stud isn't straight enough, or it has too many defects, it won't serve its structural purpose. These get tossed into a large bin and carted away at an extremely high cost each time.
If you ask the foreman for the tossed wood, you're actually helping him save money! Less wood in the bin means fewer pick-ups and more savings.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK!!!
I got extremely lucky with a self-storage site build, and the foreman even had his team set aside the wood so I could load it into my Honda easier. The wood was FREE, it only cost me a little gas and time.
The wood for the support/base is a 12' length of 4x4 and a 12' length of 2x6. AGAIN, super cheap, and it was the only wood I paid for.
You'll also need some 2 1/2" screws, I prefer Kreg because there's less binding, and I looooathe phillips head screws. The square Kreg screws don't strip and frustrate.
How to Build the Bench
To build, first decide what you'll be using it for. Will it simply be a workbench? Or will it also serve as an outfeed table, and need to be at an exact height? Will you be drilling in holes? What size? How wide/long do you want it to be?
The studs are cut first. I ripped them all along one side to square the shorter edges. I don't have a jointer (yet), but if you do, it'd be a good idea to run them through right after you rip them. That way you have a nice flat surface to work with. OR, you can hand-plane later. OR, you can use a planer later. It's really up to you and what you're comfortable with.
Next, the studs are cut to length. I didn't want offset layers, so I cut them all to my decided length of 6' plus 2" for trimming later. If you want yours to have offsets, like a wood floor, I'm betting it'll turn out lovely but it does add complexity. I'm all about the Easy Button.
Get your clamps and a nice new bottle of glue out, you'll be using ALL of them........ Set down the wood and decide where you want each one. A couple of mine had rough edges, so I put those two on the ends to be sanded down later. Once you've decided on layout, put your clamps down on a nice even surface and start your glue-up. MORE IS MORE, and you want mooooore glue. The glue-up should be messy, and drippy, and crazy. Spread the glue nice and even along both sides of each piece as you put them together. I skimped on glue and ended up having to use filler to get the cracks...
Clamp everything together UPSIDE DOWN and leave it alone to dry overnight. It's upside down so the top of the table is as level as possible.
You might want to clamp a couple sections at a time and then clamp those sections together after they dry, but mine was only 18" wide so I did it all at once. IF YOU DO IT THIS WAY, you can actually run the sections through an electric planer to get everything flush. If not, no worries.
Get to work on the support & legs now. Honestly, I didn't even "skirt" the legs, just drilled some pocket holes to attach them directly to the top. Your base should leave at least 2" of overhang for the top piece, but still be wide enough to support and stabilize the bench. Again, pocket holes for the win, everything went together super fast.
Be sure to get the height right if you're using it as an outfeed table. If you cut it too short, you can always add self-leveling legs (like I had to when I upgraded my table saw), or even casters. If you cut it too long, there's always the saw.
I've seen people use mitered legs for this purpose and LOVE the idea, it would definitely add stability to the table when working across it, but I opted for the Easy Button again and haven't had any stability problems.
Crack open a beer and turn in for the night.
Attach the base to the top and flip, and you're basically done. You can install vice grips, drill holes, WHATEVER you can think of to make the workbench perfect for YOU. As I said, I ended up having to put putty all over the thing just to fill in the cracks left by my glue feaux pas, so now there are splotchy bits of glue that look ridiculously dark compared to the rest of the table. C'est la vie!
I went with 1" holes and made my own dowels, but you may choose a different config. Also sealed it with some tung oil finish and satin finish polyurethane. A couple weeks later, I got some 48" t-tracks (one with a ruler on it), vice grips and self-leveling feet, and installed those. It's working great, but that all costs $$ and sort of defeats the purpose of a cheeeeeap workbench.
I know there are lots of 3/4" accessories that work nicely with a solid table like this... And the thing really is SOLID. It barely moves when I smash into it because I mis-judged the width of my walkway between the bench and my plywood sheets again haha!
Be sure to comment and tell us how you made your own workbench!