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How to Build a Woodworking Bench

by Staff Writer

Man using a saw on a woodworking bench

Things You Need:

  • Power drill
  • Router
  • 3/8-inch router bit
  • Circular saw
  • Construction lumber
  • Plywood
  • Threaded truss rods
  • Nuts and washers
  • Dowels
  • Dowel center

A personal workshop isn't complete without a workbench. You can build your own sturdy woodworking bench with a few tools and some construction lumber. Here's a step-by-step guide to getting started on a workbench, including measurements.

Constructing the Workbench:

  1. Cut your lumber. To build your workbench, you'll need lumber and plywood cut to the following dimensions with your circular saw:

    • Four 32-inch long, 4-inch by 4-inch legs for the bench.

    • Four 41-inch long, 2-inch by 4-inch rails.

    • Four 17-inch long, 2-inch by 4-inch rails.

    • One sheet of plywood, 4 feet by 8 feet, for the top of the workbench.

      • Cut two sections, 62 inches long and 24 inches wide, for the tabletop.

      • Cut a third section for the bottom shelf of the workbench, 48 inches long and 24 inches wide.

  2. Mark the legs and the rails. Mark the top ends of each 4 x 4 workbench leg. Also, mark which sides will attach to the long and short side-rails.

  3. Mark and drill holes in the legs for the long rails. These holes are for the threaded truss rods that will hold your workbench together.

    • You'll drill two holes, using a 3/8-inch drill bit, in each leg for the long truss rods. These holes will be 1 3/16 inches from the inside edge of the leg. You'll drill the top hole 2 7/8 inches from the top of the leg, and the second hole will be 9 5/8 inches from the bottom of the leg.

  4. Mark and drill holes in the legs for the short rods. You'll drill two holes with the same drill bit as above. The holes should be 1 3/4 inches from the outside edge of the legs. Drill one hole at 3 5/16 inches from the top and drill the other hole at 9 3/16 inches from the bottom.

  5. Cut channels in the rails. Using your router and 3/8-inch router bit, you'll cut two channels into each rail as follows:

    • Cut two channels, 3/8 inch deep, into the inner side of each long rail. Cut each channel at 7/16 inch from the upper and lower edges of the rail.

    • Cut one channel on the inner side of each short rail, 3/8 inch deep, and make it 7/16 inch from the top edge. This channel is for attaching the workbench shelf.

    • Cut a second 3/8-inch deep channel into the bottom side of each short rail for the threaded rod. Cut the channel into the very center of the bottom side.

  6. Drill holes for the dowels. The 3/8-inch dowels will provide a stronger joint for the workbench legs and the side rails.

    • The dowel holes are in the same location on each rail. Mark and drill a hole 3/4 inch from the inside of the rail and 1 inch from the top side of the rail. The depth of the hole should be half the length of the dowel. You'll drill the mating holes on the workbench legs right before you attach the rails.

  7. Drill mating dowel-holes on the workbench legs.

    • Slip the short threaded truss rod into the inner channel of the short rail.

    • Insert your 3/8-inch dowel center into the dowel hole and slide the rail down until the center rests against the side of the leg. Use a mallet to tap the other end of the rail, leaving a mark from the dowel center.

    • Use the dowel mark to drill your mating dowel hole and repeat with the other workbench legs.

  8. Attach the rails to the legs. Start with the short rails and then use the long rails to attach the two completed ends.

    • Slip the threaded rods into the workbench's upper and lower short rails. Insert the dowels into the dowel holes on the legs. Slide the end of the rods through the holes drilled into the legs, using the dowels as a guide.

    • Secure the rods with the nuts and washers on the outside of the workbench legs. Repeat the process with the long rails to complete the workbench base frame.

  9. Complete the tabletop and shelf for your workbench.

    • Glue and screw together the two 62-inch by 24-inch plywood sections.

    • Lay the workbench tabletop on the base frame and clamp it in place. The tabletop will hang over one end of the workbench frame by 4 inches and over the other end by 10 inches.

    • Insert S-clip tabletop fasteners into the upper channel on the top rails and screw them to the bottom of the tabletop.

    • Cut the corners out of the 48-inch by 24-inch plywood section for the workbench legs and attach it to the lower workbench rails in similar fashion.

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