Garage Workbench

Finished Workbench
I built a workbench across the back wall of my garage shop at the begining of the year, and I put it to use the second it got a top. It has literally never been clean enough to get a decent picture. It's probably apparent the top is already stained with oil, paint, and shellac.

The bench is generally constructed like the one at my previous shop. The frame is made from 2x4's, and the top is 3/4" OSB with a 1/8" hardboard skin. A bank of drawers is installed in the left side, and the right side of the bench is left open so I can roll my lawn mower and an equipment cart underneath.

Table of Contents

Bench Frame Construction

Workbench Leg Assembly
The legs are a lamination of 2x4's. There's a 3-1/2" gap on the inside faces at the top and ~7-1/2" from the bottom for the aprons and cross members to fit. The center legs are 3, 2x4's thick to create these joints on both sides.
Workbench Frame Assembly
The back aprons were screwed to the legs through their faces while the front aprons were screwed through pocket holes. I also used pocket holes to attach support members evenly between the aprons. I wanted to hide most of the fasteners when looking at the workbench front.
Levelling workbench on garage floor
I leveled the frame with pieces of 3/4" OSB under the front legs. Your results may vary, but this thickness has worked well in both this and my previous shop for leveling benches along the back wall.

The Bench Top

Attaching the workbench top
The top is 3/4" OSB screwed to the support members and then skinned with hardboard using double sided carpet tape. The tape works well to attach the hardboard, and it avoids fasteners showing on the top. The hardboard can easily be replaced if it gets too beat up, but I never cared enough to do that at my last shop.

I debated using pine plywood for the top instead, but a decent sheet would have cost as much as the OSB and hardboard combined. Many folks online like to cover their workbench tops anyway (regardless of material), and the hardboard does a good job soaking up spilled oil or finish. The plywood isn't worth the extra money if it won't be seen, and the OSB is very strong and functional.

Drawer Construction and Installation

Workbench drawer runners
Instead of building a drawer cabinet, I installed vertical dividers above the 2x4 support members using pocket hole joints. The 2 outside dividers are 1/2" plywood (for looks), but I used up some old 3/4" OSB I had lying around for the others. I used the plywood drawer bottoms and a couple of pennies to properly space the dividers in the opening.

Most of the drawer runners are strips of 3/4" birch plywood screwed to the dividers through pocket holes. Strips of half-inch plywood were nailed to the frame after the dividers were installed to act as the bottom drawer runners.

Workbench drawers
The drawers are constructed from 1/2", B-C plywood, and the drawer faces are cabinet grade 3/4" pine plywood. These drawers are basically shelves with sides glued and nailed on top. This allows the drawers to slide on their bottoms, and the sides don't really need any strength.

The fronts are attached directly to the sides and bottom using pocket screws. I used a right-angle clamp to hold most of the fronts in place while I drove the screws, but I couldn't get a clamp on the top row. For those, I held the fronts on with brad nails and then drove in the screws.

I drilled a 1" hole in each drawer front after they were attached. The hole acts as a drawer pull without anything sticking out in front.

Considerations for Next Time

Workbench loaded for use

Workbench drawers open and loaded

I'm happy with how the bench came out, and there isn't much I would change about the end result. However, there are a couple things I would at least consider doing differently to make the construction easier.
  • I don't know that I would use this method for building drawers in the future. The cheap B-C plywood curved up almost immediately when I got it home, and I ended up having to make the drawers an extra 1/8" thinner. The bowed plywood sides were to difficult to fit in a tight fitting opening.

    If I was doing it again, I might build the drawer boxes starting with the sides, and then glue on the bottoms. I think this may have made a more uniform drawer that fit better in a tight space. However, it would have used more material since I probably would have used false fronts.

  • I used 2-1/2" wood screws for all the pocket-hole joints on the frame. It would have been easier to use actual pocket screws, but I didn't have the right size, and used what was available.

    Standard wood screws won't pull the joint tight because there is thread all the way up the shaft, and the head is self counter sinking. The joints have to be held as tight as possible before starting the screws, and you have to be careful not to over drive them.

  • There isn't space to clamp down to the bench on the drawer side. It's fine for me because the right side is left open, but it might be better to build more of a drawer cabinet and leave off the top row. That is what I'll do if I ever build drawers into the right side of the bench.
The bench is super strong, heavy, and solid. I built it thinking it would mostly be used to hold bench machines and facilitate messy jobs like soldering pipe or mixing shellac. However, the top is also flat enough I could use it as an assembly table if there was ever enough space.
Feel free to send me any comments, suggestions, or questions through my
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Copyright 2016 by Joseph Bobek, all rights reserved.