How to Make a Workbench…or 10 4

Happy 4th of July!  I hope you get to either relax this weekend, or get a project or two done!  Whatever trips your trigger!  How about learning how to make a workbench?

Our local YMCA had a little problem. Somehow, a sprinkler had gone off in the gym and they couldn’t shut it off quickly.  I’m not exactly sure all the details, but I do know that the floor ended up warped. It really was quite a catastrophic event because the floor was 100 years old and original to the building. They didn’t have any plans with the floor except to throw it away. So, my husband and I (and the neighbor) went and retrieved some.  They were in 4′ long pieces (for the most part) and obnoxiously heavy.

Picture 007

I also had a problem.  I needed to learn how to make a workbench, or 10.  We have a detached garage.  I wanted to make it my workshop.  We are a two-vehicle family so the only thing that really needs to be in here is the riding lawn mower and it’s partner, the wagon that takes up the space of a small car.  We’d also been storing our Christmas stuff in this garage, but that’s stupid.  We live in Indiana, where it’s cold and snowy in December.  Who wants to go outside, load that stuff into a vehicle and drive it across the driveway, just to get in from the cold?  We have room for it in the attic above the house.  That’s a smarter place for it.

I knew this was going to be a long process, because it started with organizing the attached garage at the beginning of April.  Then I had to have a garage sale (end of May). This detached  garage had also been storing some stuff, so it was going to need an overhaul too.

pre 2nd garage 7 pre 2nd garage 5 pre 2nd garage 10  Picture 006 Picture 005 Picture 004 Picture 008 Looking through those pictures makes me throw up in my mouth a little!!!  Yikes!  I hope you don’t have this kind of mess on your hands!!!  But if you do, know that tackling it is a terrible job, but well worth the outcome!

I read a blog (that I can’t find now and I changed mine from his specs) that told how to make a workbench, but my biggest problem was that I was going to have to cut the flooring in order to fit the bases that I was making. That floor was not square and the edges were not straight and I couldn’t move it alone (which was really the issue).  That job ended up going to Zach with a circular saw.  He cut the pieces into rectangular tops once I was able to give him the dimensions.

The workbench that we have in the attached garage is 42 1/2″ high and I was sure that height was just too high for all of my detached garage workbenches. I’m only 65″ so that just doesn’t work for me. I did want to have varying heights due to the fact you need different heights for different jobs: painting different heights, drilling, writing, etc.

I cut the boards that were going to be the legs 38.5″, 34″, and 28″.  I knew the flooring would go on top and add another 2″, so that would make the table heights 40.5″, 36″, and 30″.  I thought those varying heights would be suitable for what I will be using these benches for.  If you want to make yours taller or shorter, just change the leg measurements.  I used my kitchen counters, tables, and the bench in the attached garage to help determine my heights.

I put the tallest (40.5″) tables along the left side.  There are 4 of those.  I left a little space in the corner because we plan on putting a wood burning stove there sometime.  I put four 36″ tables at the back, towards the left and into the middle.  Then, I put the two 30″ tables on the right at the end.


2 x 4 Boards needed:
2 – 23 1/2″ – these will be connected on the sides of the top of the base
2 – 26 1/2″ – these will be connected on the sides of the middle of the base
4 legs. I varied my heights at 48″,  41″, and 28″.
4 – 48″ – these will be connected at the top and in the middle (front and back)

workbench wood

Four piles of 2 x 4s
Two 26.5″ – These will be supports on the left and right at the top.
Two 23.5″ – These will be supports on the left and right in the middle (up 15″).
Four 34″ – These will be the legs.
Four 48″ – These will be the supports for the front and back, two at the top and two in the middle

Other needed materials:


at least 4 clamps

measuring tape

20 – 2 1/2″ deck screws


A drill (I started with a regular drill, the hardware store guy told me to put soap on my screws in order to have them go into the wood easier. That really worked well. But then the neighbor (the same one who helped us get the flooring) gave me a power driver. Let’s put it this way, I now have my own. It made the job so much easier. It actually cut my time in half.  If you do any type of drilling, you have to get one of these!)

I’m only going to give you the directions for one table.  You can change the length, width, and height depending on whatever size you want.  These directions show you specifically how to build a 36″ table that is 48″ long (All my tables are 28″ wide).  After working on these tables for a few weeks, I like these dimensions, but it’s really up to you.


1.  I took two 34″ legs and put them onto two sawhorses.  I put one length (48″) across the top. I clamped that and drilled two screws on each side.

workbench 1

2.  I flipped the board over and measured up 15″. Fifteen inches is not a miracle number, it’s just the spot that I chose.  It was near halfway and I thought that it would be good spot to have a support.  I drew a line on each the legs of 15 inches from the bottom, then placed the length of the table board there (another 48″ board). I clamped the board and screwed in both sides with two screws on each side.

workbench 2

workbench 83.  Next, you need to clamp the top inside board (26 1/2″) to the inside of the legs.  Make it flush with the top 48″ board. You clamp that and screw it in on both sides.

4.  Then, you clamp the middle inside board (23 1/2″) to the board that you placed 15″ from the floor. Screw both of those sides in.  *This board is 3″ shorter than the top one because the width of a 2 x 4 is not really 2″.  It’s 1 1/2″.  You are allowing for two 2 x 4s (the legs), which equals 3″.

workbench 6

5.  Set those eight screwed boards somewhere else. Do steps 1 and 2 again to make the other side of the base.

workbench 3

(1.) Put two legs (34″) on the sawhorses.  Put one length (48″) across the top. Clamp those and drill two screws into each side.

(2.)  Flip those three screwed boards over.  Measure up 15″.  Clamp a 48″ board to both sides.  Screw two screws into each side. 

workbench 8

You should end up with this again

6.  When you’re finished with that, place those 4 boards on top of the original base. Clamp those together. Screw eight nails in to the places that aren’t screwed together.

workbench 9

This is your base. Set it up.   Place your top on. I haven’t talked much about how to get your tops.  Just cut it to fit your base or make your base length and width to fit your top. 

I pre-drilled holes (until I got a power driver.  If you are lucky enough to have one, you can skip the long process of pre-drilling), then screwed the top on.

Volia! You have a workbench table.  Do that 9 more times!  Make sure to vary your heights.  I think this is something guys don’t always think of (no offense), but it makes such a huge difference.  I know Zach told me he wouldn’t have thought to do that.  My sister, however, noticed that right away and then realized I’d engineered the whole thing!  Pinterest does make a girl smarter!

first workbenchfinished workbenchworkbenches

Volia! You have at least one workbench!

I did some modifications to the 30″ table bases.  Since they were only 30″ high and I wanted to be able to sit at them with a chair, I made their supports different.  It took me 3 hours to figure this out (because of the above listed 3″ deal with 2 x 4s only being 1.5″) and I didn’t write it down.  Basically, I cut two pieces with 45 degree angles on both sides and screwed them into the sides and an extra piece at the top.  This is the front piece, so a chair can fit under it.

Looking at this picture, I can’t for the life of me figure out what took 3 hours!?!?!?!  I must have been tired…

short workbench 1

I built 10 of these tables, because I can’t do small projects. I am, however, very happy that I have all this workspace. After I finished the tables, I organized this garage just as I had the attached one. This garage is going to be used for messy projects. Sawing, painting, etc. I will use the other garage with that workbench for more crafty type things…or parking a vehicle.

I made 4 of these 36" workbenches.

I made 4 of these 36″ workbenches.

I made 2 of these 30" workbenches.

I made 2 of these 30″ workbenches.

I made 4 of these 40 1/2" workbenches.

I made 4 of these 40 1/2″ workbenches.

After finishing putting all the tables in a line, I put some boards underneath to create some shelving.  I just used the boards that had come out of the house when we remodeled.  You could easily just get some plywood.

As I was finishing this post up for publication, I wish I’d have done it a little differently, but my computer is slow so I’m not changing it today!  Here’s how you girls need to think about this.  It’s a recipe.  You have your ingredients (2 x 4s), tools (miter saw hadn’t been included up top), and directions.  You can do this!  If I have kitchen tools in my garage (for mixing paint), you can bring your kitchen knowledge to the garage!  I know I’m blessed with room, and a ton of it, but you can organize and make stuff even if you don’t have this much space.  Come on, it’s fun! 


Happy Birthday, America!





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4 thoughts on “How to Make a Workbench…or 10

  1. Reply Chris Carter Jul 10,2013 7:51 pm

    your Husband has a twin in Kendallville Indiana which is my hometown

  2. Pingback: Tools Today – Tool Blog» Blog ArchiveHow to make your own workbench in 1 day » Tools Today - Tool Blog

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