An Easy-To-Build Workshop
Construction in our family goes back several generations. In fact, our great grandfather was actually – believe it or not – a master plumber. To top that off, our grandfather and his brother built fishing boats. Later, as the fishing industry in our area waned, our grandfather decided to take a stab at constructing commercial buildings, and later, home building. With a plumber, a boat builder and a homebuilder in our immediate past you might well imagine the unusual amount of exposure to construction that we had as we were being raised. Although our father was not a builder he was an avid do-it-yourselfer. We kind of like to refer to him as the straw that broke the camel’s back. For without his unusual interest in woodworking, plumbing, painting and just general tinkering, who knows what field we may have gotten into. God forbid journalism.
You should have seen dad’s workshop (it was originally our grandfather’s construction company workshop). The workbench frame was built from 2x and 4x stock and the top was fashioned with solid 2×12 fir planks. Talk about strong. You could lay a truck engine on that workbench and if anything was going to give way it would be the engine – not the bench. In the mid-sixties our father actually built a workbench in his auto repair shop. On that one he used a quarter-inch steel plate over 2×12 planks and 6×6 legs. To this day we have never figured out why he wanted that one to be so strong.
We both have workbenches and use them regularly for every home maintenance task imaginable. We can’t picture having the responsibility of home ownership and not having a workbench…with a built-in vise – of course!
We also know that not everyone has the time, money or tools that it takes to create a fancy workbench like our father did. And, if that kind of describes you, then you may want to read on. We have an idea that you will love this one. With a small list of lumber and a few special connectors you can build a workbench that will challenge most others for strength, durability and cost effectiveness.
The bench is actually built using a kit that you sort of partially create yourself. An American company that manufactures metal connectors for wood construction actually offers a bracket kit that comes with: steel connectors, screws, a lumber list and assembly instructions. Since the kit only comes with a list you have the freedom to select the type of wood you want to use and purchase it separately. Since no miter cuts are required for the project you will find that most lumberyards will be happy to cut your lumber exactly to length. Therefore, this is one that you can have cut to size or you can cut it yourself. OK, there is some cutting that must be done. Even if your dimensional lumber is cut to length you will have to make a few notches in the plywood countertop and the shelf below it (6 locations altogether @ 1½” x 3½”). With the steel connecting brackets this job is definitely perfect for assembly with the screws…provided.
Although the bench height in the plan is shown at exactly 3 feet from the floor you can vary from this standard depending on your taste. Remember, this is YOUR workbench. Changing the height won’t cost a cent, and may prove to be a wise decision if your height varies much from average. The lumber list actually includes a slight amount of extra material.
The depth of the bench is just a hair under 2-feet, and the length is exactly 4-feet. If you build the bench in accordance with the plan width and depth the project can be built with a half-sheet of plywood – one-forth sheet for the bottom shelf and one-forth sheet for the bench. Although the plan calls for three-quarter inch plywood you can use inch and an eighth instead for an ultra sturdy finished product. Yes, the three-quarter inch material is A.O.K., but when it comes to strength – when is there ever enough?
By purchasing extra brackets, more plywood and a couple extra 2×4’s an additional shelf (or two) can be added or forget the extra shelves and use the material to extend the length of the bench – or you can do both.
By the way, if the bench will be used inside Southern Yellow Pine or Douglas Fir (depending on availability) would be the lumber we would choose for this project. The project should take no more than an afternoon. Gathering material should take longer than the actual assembly. Oh, just about the only thing that you can do wrong on this one is cut the notches in the plywood in the wrong direction. This project really is a piece of cake.