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    Build a Simple, Sturdy Workbench

    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    This easy-to-build workbench can do double-duty as a tablesaw outfeed table.

    The bench is constructed with lumber and supplies available at any home center or lumber yard. To build it, you'll need a few basic tools including a router, drill-driver, and circular saw.

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    Requirements for a workbench
    While you can follow our measured drawing, we recommend customizing the dimensions for your bench to suit your needs.

    There are two common ways to determine the height of your workbench. The first is the height of other surfaces around your shop. We designed our bench to match the height of the tablesaw so we could use the workbench as an outfeed support when cutting large pieces.

    Another approach to sizing your bench is based on your stature; the taller you are, the taller your workbench. To determine a good height, straighten your arm against your side, aim the palm of your hand toward the floor, and measure from the floor to your palm. This height is generally comfortable for bench tasks like hand planing and routing.

    Joinery and Construction
    In this first episode we focus on building the base. In episode two, we construct the benchtop and attach a woodworking vise.

    The base is constructed with kiln-dried construction lumber (not green lumber, which is wet and might warp as it dries). And the joinery system consists of long threaded rods, sometimes called truss rods, that fit inside the stretchers and are held in place with washers, nuts, and dowels.

    We cut all of our lumber to size with a circular saw and a shopmade straightedge jig. You can also use a miter saw or tablesaw if you have those in your shop. The holes for the dowels and bolt system are bored with a handheld drill-driver. A drill press would speed up the task and provide better accuracy.

    The benchtop and base
    The benchtop is constructed by cutting two matching pieces from a single sheet of MDF. This is a pretty simple task that makes use of the circular-saw edge guide we made in the previous episode. The two pieces are glued and screwed together and attached to the bench base with tabletop clips.

    Once the bench top is attached to the base, we show you how to install a woodworking vise with bolts. Finally, we finish up by drilling holes for the benchdogs.

    How to Make

    Instructions: Follow the detailed step-by-step instructions in the video player above.



    Threaded Rod Lengths

    David Stys writes: It looks like the threaded rods need to be cut to length. What lengths? And can they be hand sawn with a hack saw? Thanks!

    Cutting threaded rod

    David Faber writes: Don't know about the length but I saw something on You Tube to help with the cutting. He took a 2x2x10 inches or so in length and drilled a hole about 2" from one end the same or close to same diameter as the rod. Then he cut a kerf in between the holes with a bandsaw. He placed the rod through with a nut on one side and another on the end protruding from the hole. He tightened both nuts to hold the rod tight and cut it with a hacksaw. Taking the nuts off straightened out the threads, too. Hope this helps.

    Cutting threaded rod

    David Stys writes: Thanks. I was able to cut it pretty easily with a hack saw, being careful with the end, making sure the cut js clean enough to be able to thread the nut.

    MDF for humid areas?

    Marco Calvo writes: Hi. I like your videos and the simplicity of this bench. I live in the tropics, and I wonder if the MDF will last long. Especially if drilling dog bench holes in it. I've been thinking on using solid wood instead, but for that I'd need to join the pieces. Not sure what to do. Any comments on the durability of the MDF for the top? Thanks

    Giant simple sturdy workbench

    John Hopkins writes:

    This is a great project for a beginning woodworker. I'd like to make a larger version of this bench with a 96"x30" top. How would you change the base to support the larger top? I was thinking of adding another 4x4 leg mid way between the other two at the front and back with a top and bottom stretcher running front to back, basically a third leg assembly. My only issue with this is how to join the front and back stretchers to this new vertical member. Should I get a 96" truss rod and pass it all the way through from left to right? 

    Keep up the great work on the site!

    What finish to use

    Asa Christiana writes: Hi, Keith. So glad you are enjoying the site. We did apply a simple oil finish to the MDF. One coat of just about any finish, Danish oil, Minwax antique oil, tung oil, shellac, polyurethane, will soak in and toughen the MDF a bit, and also help it resist stains. But too many coats of a film finish like shellac or poly will be too slippery, and will develop ugly scratches. Best of luck.


    Keith Winkelmann writes:

    Greetings ASA,

    After 5 trips to the hardware store I am finished with this table. It looks like you guys applied a coating to the MDF. If so, what is it and what made you choose it? Thanks again for keeping everything so simple. I really enjoy this website.


    Different dimensions

    Richard Lipkin writes:

    Hi Asa,

    I like this plan and am about to try constructing a bench. I purchased a ready-made top that is 30 x 60. I notice that in your plan, the base width is flush with that of the top.

    Do you feel a base whose dimensions are flush with the top's is especially desirable? Would there be a downside to a base with your base's dimensions and putting my top that would overhang all around?

    I see an advantage to having an overhang because it makes it easier to temporarily attach vises or clamps. But I am a beginner so I would defer to your advise.


    Overhang the benchtop?

    Asa Christiana writes:

    Good to hear from you, Richard. The problem with an overhang along the front edge happens when you try to clamp a long board on edge in the front vise. As is, with the benchtop flush, you can put a removable dowel into the right-hand leg to support the edge of that long board (take it out when you don't need it--it's a leg buster!). With an overhang, the vise would be sticking out that much more from the legs, and that dowel wouldn't work as well.

    On the other hand, as you say, an overhang will make it easier to clamp things along that edge. So your call.

    A suitable finish for the MDF top

    Charles Carron Sr writes:

    HI Asa, I just finished the bench using the plans you provided, and took my time putting it together. I'm pleased with the outcome.  My vise has been attached but I have yet to install the bottom shelf or drill the dog holes on the top. I have a couple of questions before proceeding.  Was the bottom shelf also attached by clips? It would seem easier to attach by using deck screws from the top down onto the rails. I guess I could clamp the bottom shelf first in order to attach the clips though.  Also I would like to add a tool tray to the top side opposite the  bench vise. Any suggestions  or plans to make the task easier?  Finally, should the Dog holes drilled all the way through the top  or only partially drilled, and what type of finish should be applied to the MDS top? It seems like it could use some type of protective finish.

    holes in legs for threaded rods

    Stephen Carroll writes:


    I'm a new woodworker and making my 2nd attempt to build this bench. I like the design but am having trouble with the holes in the legs for the threaded rods. If I've measured correctly there's only 1/16th of an inch between the holes going in each direction. Two of the legs came out perfectly but two legs had holes that intersected and the rods would not fit through. I'm going to plug the holes with dowels and try again with a drill guide this time (don't have a drill press). If that doesn't work I'm going to start again but this time use wider boards for the long stretchers. Any tips for what type of lumber to use, something I can pick up at a big box store?

    By the way, I learned a trick (can't remember where) to make it easier to cut the 4x4s. Make the first cut and then rotate the board 90 degrees towards you. Use the kerf to line up the blade of the circular saw and make the next cut. The cuts were perfectly smooth.



    Hi, Steve. Lay out the holes

    Asa Christiana writes:

    Hi, Steve. Lay out the holes very carefully, using the plan provided. Then set a square on the bench when you are drilling, somewhere behind the drill,  and use it as a visual refernce to help keep the drill straight.

    Any construction softwood will work. Pine, fir, whatever, and it comes in just the sizes you need. I recommend Douglas Fir. Make sure it is kiln-dried. the wet, unseasoned stud lumber will warp as it dries.

    I love your tip for cutting 4x4s. Wish I had shown that in the videos! Next time.


    Simple, Sturdy Workbench

    David Baulch writes:

    I like the plans and the simplicity of the piece. I made one closer to a trestle table-like affair all from kiln-dried 2x4s. The top, however, was made from 2x4s around the edge, and a piece of 3/4" mdf glued and screwed to a spaced out set of flat-laid 2x4s. The edge 2x4s on the top were a bit over so I could apply a piece of 1/4" masonite insert down and level with the tops of the 2x4s. That way I can use it as a glue-up/assembly table as well as a workbench. When the masonite gets bad, take it off and put a new on back in its place. Granted, it is rather heavy, so I mounted a set of casters on one end that, when flipped down, I can move it around the shop before setting it down and moving the casters up out of the way. Had been using saw horses and pieces of plywood, but this works easier and is much more sturdy.

    Great ideas

    Asa Christiana writes:

    Great ideas, David. It's a versatile design, and people can adapt it in all kinds of ways. I like the idea of a sacrificial piece of Masonite on top, and the casters that pivot out of the way. A workbench does need to be solidly on all four feet  when doing heavy handwork, like handplaning, for example.

    Good stuff.


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