All purpose work bench
Growing up in a small house with a bunch of
kids, a dog, a couple of cats and short-term
guests like turtles and goldfish was a whole
lotta fun, but let's face it—personal space was
nonexistent. Any project
that anyone had was slated
for the kitchen table.
That '50s-style chrome-legged
table was used for everything
from making cookies to folding
laundry to spray-painting
model cars and planes, and yes,
doing homework, too. Often, in
the middle of a task we kids were
told to take it elsewhere. We
usually chose the coffee table or
piano bench, which have the
scars to prove it.
What we really needed was a
work area that we could stand or
sit at, where we'd be able to do
our projects from start to finish. The perfect solution for tasks like
these is this sturdy utility bench.
It's solid, cheap, easy to sweep
under and just the right size for
chores that need a space of their
The bench is made from lumber,
plywood and hardware that
are available at any home center
or lumberyard (see “Shopping List” in Additional Information, below). The frame is made from
2x4s, and the top and shelves are
made from 3/4-in. plywood (just
buy a half sheet) edged with
3/4-in. thick boards.
Note: Buy your 2x4 material at
least a week before assembly and
stack it in the house. This will
allow the wood to dry and stabilize,
and prevent further shrinking
or warping after assembly.
Figure A: Wood Work Bench
The shelves and shelf supports lock the side supports together and prevent any movement while you're hammering or sawing on the top.
For a larger version of Figure A, see Additional Information, below.
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Tools, time and options
This project is designed with the
beginner in mind. All you need
are a circular saw, a framing
square, a drill and drill bits, a
hammer, wrenches, a few small
clamps, and a little building
Once you gather all the materials,
you can easily have the bench
up and ready to use in a few hours.
It'll go even quicker if you have
the lumberyard rip (cut lengthwise
from 1x6) the 2-1/4 in. wide
fronts for the shelves and top and
the 3/4-in. x 3/4-in. rear shelf
cleats, although you can easily
make these cuts with your circular
saw. If you decide to rip these narrow
cleats yourself, a safe and easy
way is to rip-cut a 3/4-in. wide
piece first from 1x6 using the rip guide that came with your saw. After
ripping the long 3/4-in. piece, you can
cut it into the two lengths needed.
We designed this table with a finished
height of 37-3/4 in., which
works well for most standing tasks.
You can easily adjust the height by
changing the length of the rear legs
(use the 36-in. height of your kitchen
countertops as a baseline for what is
comfortable for you). The construction
process will be the same even if
you raise or lower the finished height
a couple of inches. Follow the step-by-step building guide in Photos
1 – 8 and check Fig. A for building
Not Just For Carpentry
This sturdy bench is also
perfect as a potting bench
or laundry room table.
If you want a surface that's easy
to clean and protects against
spills, apply two coats of
polyurethane varnish to the top
and the shelves. We used a
water-based finish that dried
quickly and was hard as nails by
the next day.