Building My Workbench

January 12, 2011   //  Posted in: Basement, DIY   //  By: Pete   //  4 responses

Here's the wall of tools that's been in my dining room for 8 months. Ever since we built the deck in the summer of 2010 my tools have kinda just been strewn about Emily’s dining room or dumped in a wooden box we found at a garage sale. You may not know this about me, but I’m kind of obsessed with the care and organization of my tools. It makes me very uncomfortable when they’re lying around or dumped in a big wooden box. It makes my skin crawl. After the basement “bathroom” was demolished (we wrote about that here and here) we were left with a lot of extra lumber, and the plan was to reuse as much as possible to make a nice workbench as a place to store my tools. It was also going to be something I could stand at, drink a beer at, and take junk apart at.

Something beefy.

Something I could wail on if the occasion presented itself.

My buddy Marty caught wind of this, and since he’s built a million of these things, he wrote an awesome comment and pretty much did all of my thinking for me; he even sent me some sketches like this one to the right. Marty’s comment can be read in full here ifyou’re interested, but here’s a slightly rearranged excerpt, which involves his recommendation of the actual work surface:

Top the bench with layers. Like girls do with clothes. Or how gossip magazines say celebrities cut their hair (not that I read them, unless left on the workbench). Or something more manly…a mexican dip you eat during halftime while watching the Bills play.

First layer: 3/4 ply. Good ol’ plywood.

Not OSB. Not even CDX. No need for exposure. Just “D” plywood. Or maybe “C”. Or if Pete finds something on the side of the road, then…okay…that.

Second layer: 3/4 MDF. Medium-density Fibreboard. Yes, that’s an “re” in Fibre since I think it came from across the pond prior to having it in the US. MDF is nice and flat and works (finishes) well. Plus it’s dense, so dogs under the bench will experience a -3dB reduction in hammer blow noise.

Third layer: Carpet. Tucked away in the corner, your big box home center has some bland gray/charcoal closed loop short pile carpet. Yeah, on that big rotating carpet holder thing that I desperately want to know the keycode to operate. It’s like the last type of carpet you would put inside your home, but if you put it on your porch it would be like “damn, this is nice carpet”. And on your bench even nicer.

The carpet isn’t too nice that you’d be afraid to drill into it, or wipe that extra silicone from your finger onto it…because it’s still crappier than your work pants. But it offers some cushion when you want to assemble that new nickel-plated bathroom light fixture without a scratch. And, it looks nice.

Surveying the wood from the basement demo, I decided against using the toilet-water-soaked, moldy 2x6s, so a trip to Home Depot was in order. Here’s the list of what I bought:

  • 8 Carriage bolts, washers, lock washers, nuts (I’d guess <$10. It was all zinc-plated, no galvanized materials necessary for an indoor workbench.)
  • 1 sheet of 3/4″ plywood ($20 to double the thickness of the tabletop; there was already one good 8′ x 3′ piece back at the house, which not coincidenally, is exactly the size of the workbench. We had the store cut the new plywood into a narrower 36″ width to match the size of the piece we had at the house.)
  • (2) 2″x6″x8-foot boards (cut in half to have 4-foot legs) and (2) 2″x6″x10-foot boards (cut to 7′ and 3′ for the frame supporting the tabletop). Total <$20.
  • Lots of screws ($40, because I bought the largest boxes available. Better value, and won’t go to waste.)
  • Gray indoor/outdoor carpet ($25. It was approximately 50-cents per sq. ft. for 48 square feet.)

Construction was kept simple. I’ll detail what I did photo-by-photo, but if I’m too vague anywhere, please write for more insight:

  • Photo 1&2: I started by attaching the 2×6 legs to the 7-foot-long 2×6 boards by pre-drilling and securing carriage bolts. Once the front and back of the table were upright, I attached the shorter 3′ pieces to finish the top frame, making the tabletop a rectangular area that stood about 40″ high.
  • Photo 3: I beefed up the frame for the tabletop, and started the frame for the bottom shelf, which is secured to the bottom of the legs.
  • Photo 4: Make the bottom shelf. In my case there was a piece of 3/8″ plywood lying around that fit right in with one rip lengthwise. The extra 3/4 plywood from the original 4×8′ sheet was just enough to make a completely solid half-shelf by attaching a couple of spare 2×4 boards as legs and building off them.
  • In Photo 5, I’m showing you an outline that I made so that I could tell exactly where the tabletop frame was – I wanted to accurately drill into the frame, and doing the sketch removed any guesswork and saved time.
  • Photo 6&7 show the table pre-carpet and with the final carpeted surface. Only tip: staple the carpet nice and tight. I sort of wrapped the corners of the carpet like a present, and staple-gunned it into place.
  • Photo 8 is the final table – Emily had those two wooden shelves (found them on the side of the road one day) and they fit perfectly in the space above the table.Only other thing worth noting is that I’m working to reroute some electrical/outlets so that there’s more light above the table than the fluorescent light I stuck up there temporarily.

Dimensions: 8′ w x 3′ d x 42″ h

All I have to do now is start organizing. Total spend for this project was $115, (but $40 was for screws, now there are a lot of extra screws for future projects).

P.S. Emily built her gardening table for the basement too. Except she used 100% recycled materials from the old bathroom (and some of the jillions of screws i bought); she’ll be posting some photos of that soon.

  • Marty
    7 years ago - Reply

    That bench is awesome. Thanks for the props…

    • Emily
      7 years ago -

      And thank YOU for the tips!

  • Dave
    7 years ago - Reply

    This post is great. What you two are doing is great too.
    See you soon.

    • Emily
      7 years ago -

      Thanks Dave! We’ll see you again soon!

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