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How to Build a Workbench: Super Simple $50 Bench

This workbench is simple enough and cheap enough that you can make it in a morning, and yet it's big enough for serious woodworking and hobby projects. Add pegboard, a bench vise and a few other accessories and you'll have a serious work center.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Buy the wood and start cutting

This sturdy 30-in. x 6-ft.-long workbench is the ultimate in simplicity. It’s made from only fifteen 8-ft.-long 2x4s and one sheet of 1/2-in. plywood. Follow the cutting diagrams to cut the parts: Figure B to cut the plywood tops, then Figure C to cut all the framing. Use the lengths provided in the Cutting List (see Additional Information below). You can either screw the framing together with 3-in. screws or hand- or power-nail it together with 3-in. nails. Screw the plywood down with 1-5/8-in. screws.

To make these project plans even easier to follow, we tinted the parts that get added at each step.

Figure A: Main Workbench Parts

Figure A: Main Workbench Parts

Figure B: Plywood Cutting Diagram

Figure B: Plywood Cutting Diagram

Figure C: 2 x 4 Usage Diagram

Figure C: 2 x 4 Usage Diagram

Construction and Cutting Details

All the dimensions and pieces are shown in Figures A, B and C, and keyed to the Cutting List in Additional Information (below). All together you'll need fifteen 2 x 4 x 8s and one sheet of 1/2-in. plywood.

Accessorize it!

Additional Information

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Miter saw
    • Cordless drill
    • Tape measure
    • Circular saw
    • Straightedge
    • Safety glasses

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • 2x4s
    • 4 x 8 x 1/2-in. plywood
    • 3-in. drywall screws
    • 1-5/8-in. drywall screws

Comments from DIY Community Members

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August 29, 10:09 AM [GMT -5]

Great workbench! It is very strong and I was able to utilize the shelves with my paint cans and tools. This bench I did myself with a circular saw to cut the 2x4's and had Lowes cut the plywood exactly the way the cut sheet is laid out. This bench took me about 6hrs. to complete for $90 and that was with my Lowes employee discount.

August 20, 6:14 AM [GMT -5]

Very easy bench to build. Cost me a little under $100. Very sturdy and strong. Highly recommend it!

August 13, 2:17 PM [GMT -5]

For those looking for the plywood cuts...

1st. Upper shelf - 2'x12' - 2 feet by 12 inches

2nd upper shelf - 4'x12' - 4 feet by 12 inches

3rd lower shelf - 6'x18' - 6 feet by 18 inches

4th work surface 6'x30" - 6 feet by 30 inches

August 09, 12:26 PM [GMT -5]

Can somebody post the measurement for the plywood? These sizes on the specs seem way small.

July 19, 8:54 PM [GMT -5]

Did it for about $13 in materials!

Pulled apart a bunch of shipping pallets for the frame and found a $10 sheet of MDF on craigslist.

June 23, 8:30 PM [GMT -5]

Easy to do and works well. Cost me $94 in material though from Lowes.

June 20, 11:31 PM [GMT -5]

Just completed this work bench with my boyfriend. Took us about 4 hours all together, and cost $90 at the Home Depot. Modified it a little by making the legs just a smidge taller, added a peg board to the entire top half, and hung a shop light underneath the top. This was a very easy project and I LOVE the outcome. Definitely going to add some hooks and whatnot for hanging purposes. Thinking about adding drawers and who knows what else, but for now it's perfect! THANK YOU! :)

June 03, 11:52 AM [GMT -5]

One of the major changes I made to this awesome workbench was to buy an extra 2x4 and cut 4 12" pieces from it. Then I screwed one to the inside of each of the lower legs. This not only gave me a uniformed height for the lower shelf, it gave some added stability to the shelf since I was planning on storing heavier equipment on it. It also saves you from having to find 4 1 gallon paint cans to support the shelf while you try to attach it. I also covered the entire top with peg board rather than making a shelf out of the backer board. I'd rather not have items falling down everytime I worked on the bench. Hooks screwed to the sides gave a lot of places to hang items from. Plus I mounted a 16 outlet plug strip to the back of the bench to give me plenty of places to plus things into. I am thinking about adding 2 folding shelfs to either side to I can make the work surface bigger for larger items. I think my wife thinks I am leaving her for this workbench...I just love that I built it myself.

May 19, 10:45 PM [GMT -5]

I'm getting ready to start this project and I have one question about the screws used.

The plans say to use drywall screws. I was reading another article on this website about the difference between drywall screws and wood screws. Should this project use wood screws instead of drywall screws or will drywall screws do a great job of holding the whole project together?

April 28, 4:13 PM [GMT -5]

Looking at FIgure C. This is what is required. As you cut each piece, write on one end which piece letter it is, and make a stack similar to the one shown. It makes it much easier to organize.

From Left to right there is 5 2x4x8 in the first pile, 4 in the second 4 in the third and two in the 4th. 5+4+4+2 = 15 2x4.

As folks have mentioned it wouldn't hurt to pick up an extra 2x4 in case of mistakes.

Good Luck!

A x9 - 71-7/8" (backer boards, upper shelf legs and rims)
B x4 - 68-7/8" (work surface and lower shelf rim)
C x4 - 35-1/2" (legs)
D x4 - 27" (end rims)
E x5 - 24" (work surface joists)
F x5 - 15" (lower shelf joists)
G x7 - 9" (upper shelf joists)

April 27, 10:55 AM [GMT -5]

For those looking for 2x4 cut lengths, click on "Cutting List" under Additional Information.

March 27, 12:39 PM [GMT -5]

I see the cut measurement for the plywood. What are the cut measurements for the 2x4's?

March 16, 11:04 PM [GMT -5]

A good friend of mine said he was going to build a work bench, needed my help to figure the dimensions and such. I immediately recalled September 2009 issure p. 50 a "Super Simple Workbench" project, which I built and still enjoy. No dimesions to figure, thanks to The Familyhandy Man magazine, they supplied the materials list.

February 19, 8:00 PM [GMT -5]

I built this bench, with some slight modifications, shortly after it was published in the print magazine. I have been using it for some time and I have nothing but good things to say about it. I even added some features/add-ons that were in other issues of Family Handyman. If your looking to build a solid, user friendly, low-cost workbench, this one comes highly recommended!

February 16, 12:37 PM [GMT -5]

I built this bench in an afternoon. I used 4 x 4 legs instead and made it a little bigger with a 30 x 72 top it was a great project added the shop light some power bars and am in the process of adding drawers to it too. So far it seems to be great work bench. We sold or house and are renting right now while house hunting and i needed a work bench that was more suitable than what was in the garage at this place and it works great.

February 12, 11:20 PM [GMT -5]

I have looked at all the pictures and can't find the sizes of the cuts on the 2x4x8's. Am I missing a diagram? How did everyone else build it without the dimensions?

February 09, 9:25 PM [GMT -5]

This was a great project! I made this for under $80 and it took me less than 3 hours to assemble. Now I have pleanty of work space and can start re-organizing my garage thanks to my new great looking work bench!

January 31, 1:13 PM [GMT -5]

I made this shortly after seeing this magazine in my dentists office after publication. This workbench is perfect! It is sturdy (actually took it with me when I moved houses because I liked it that much)

The hardest part for me is keeping it cleared off :)

but it is very useful and provides ample workspace

January 22, 8:47 AM [GMT -5]

I'm new to woodworking and I needed a work bench, so I started here. The project was very easy to complete and I had fun completing this project. I'm working my way up to bedside tables and end tables in the near future. My only issue is that my bench isn't quite level and straight all the way around. This could be due to a few slightly warped pieces of wood.

Does anyone have any advice for ways to make sure the projects like this will come out as close to level as possible?

January 20, 9:12 AM [GMT -5]

Just completed this yesterday (last night at midnight actually) and have to agree that this is more of a day project than a couple hours. The result is fantastic though! Very sturdy.

I already had wall storage so I didn't do the top part. I reportioned the 2x4 cuts pretty easily. The shelf is near floor level and the same size as the top (allows me to rest my feet up on the front part while I sit). This required an extra sheet of ply cut the "D" width which left another 21 inches section that I cut into 3 7 inch strips and used as an attached "back splash" to prevent objects from rolling off the back end of the top and each shelf.

I am already looking at what DIY workbench upgrades I might be able to add...
http://www.familyhandyman.com/DIY-Projects/Woodworking/Workbenches/diy-workbench-upgrades/Step-By-Step

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