Heard the saying “You need a workbench to build a workbench” well, for many, this statement has quite a bit of truth.
As soon as the woodworking plans that I use (these plans) were made publicity available to purchase on the internet by anyone interesting in starting out at woodworking (rather than a commercial woodworking product), I haven’t received as many orders for building a work bench, although even before these plans came to light I only constructed few (and I did build my own).
That is why I was surprised when a customer contacted me to build him a work bench, telling me that he tried to build a wooden workbench by himself but gave up after making few mistakes during the construction and it all ended up pretty messy. Although I have already mentioned that I do not agree with categorization of woodworking projects according to level of experience required for constructing them as there are many who put work benches under the category of simple woodworking projects, when for many, you need quite a bit of experience to build a good one.
There are lots of people wanting to learn how to start woodworking, trying to build a woodworking work bench and often make mistakes like using inappropriate materials, taking wrong measurements because of wrong sketches or working with no sketches at all. My customer wasn’t very different from the others who thought that constructing a work bench is a simple task so he searched the internet, visited several woodworking websites, read a few woodworking blogs, saw different plans and made his own sketch which turned out to be completely wrong.
He also lacked the proper woodworking tools, at least for a design like that.
Also there are simple and more sophisticated work bench plans and you need to decide which one you want to build.
For example there are woodworking benches that have different accessories like lights and power strip. Some have shelves while others don’t. Although not necessary some may have a mid-rail support and use boards for bench tops while others have plywood or laminated MDF which stands for Medium Density Fireboard. Also there are plans with two layers of table tops.
The material and type of work bench also depends on its intended usage i.e. type of work done on the work bench.
For example my woodworking bench is built from construction-grade lumber and it is very heavy. But for me it is more than furniture, it is a tool designed to hold different accessories and woodworking vises mounted on it.
The costs should also be considered as thick wooden bench tops are more expensive than thin wooden sheets.
In any case, although I consider myself to be seasoned woodworker I always use my plans, (my own woodworking plans that I have written about already on the site) and also plans developed from sketches brought by customers and I have no intention to change my practice. So I showed him different plans and he picked one of Ted’s that bare some similarities with his own sketch (these work bench plans).
The most important thing when building workbench is to construct a flat and sturdy bench and for this project I used dimensional lumber.
I started by pre-cutting the legs with a circular saw although using table saw works just fine. Still, unlike my customer who had a drill, a circular saw, and router, a novice needs to have the proper tools for the project. So for building a workbench I used a straightedge, table saw, cordless drill and circular saw. Not that I couldn’t get it done with the tools he was using. In fact these tools work just fine for a different design or when used by someone with more experience, still many things can be done more easily and much faster with the ones I used.
When cutting the work bench legs you need to have in mind that their length should be calculated by taking out the thickness of the bench top from the desired height. It turned out that my customer had forgotten this when building his work bench. Also, it very important to have strong table legs able to support the load placed on the table top.
If the design includes a top that is flush with the frame beneath, than the braces should be equal to the width of the bench top minus the width of two 2x4s. But if the frame is slightly jutted out from underneath the bench top, making it suitable for storing smaller tools, the length of the braces needs to be equal to the width of the bench top. Here I would like to mention that because 2x4s may not be 2 x 4 inches I always measure them before cutting.
Because he wanted a low shelf across the bottom braces I bolted them below one third of the height of the legs. In fact the bench will be more stable if the braces are lower.
I skipped the sanding as the boards were already sanded. The table top was secured to the leg assemblies with deck screws.
Having in mind that no matter the finish, the work bench is a work bench and it will need to withstand lot of punching and cutting and many more things, therefore, as my last words, it really makes no difference what finish you will use for it.
More from my Wally’s How To Series, learn how to make these pieces of furniture:
Source: Official Website For Woodworking Plans