My very first workbench I ever built was from (free) pallets and only required a limited number of tools. However, over the last couple of years I’ve found myself moving on to bigger projects which would require a more sturdy workbench. I’ve also managed to purchase more tools over the years which inevitably gave me the advantage to constructing a better workbench for myself.
Once I took the measurements of this (new) workbench I had one of two options on how to build it. Either “A” purchase all the wood and construct or “B” use reclaimed wood to save some money. Since my brother works at a freight facility and has tons of scrap wood, I figured I’d give this a try. This project would require several pieces of 2 X 6 pieces for the top and bottom shelves, and 4 X 4 pieces for the legs, ALL of which my brother had at his work.
FYI: the measurements I decided on were 48″ (L) X 24″ (W) X 36″ (H).
To start the project I used the 2 X 6 pieces to build the top. I started with 2 pieces, ripping them down to a 4″ in width on the table saw.
Once cut I could add some wood glue and clamps to hold them together. The idea was to use a butcher block style for the top and bottoms shelves. In order to cover the 24″ width I’d have to make a total of 3 panels since the combined total of each panel is 8″. Since the wood was held outside, it had already been through all types of weather from heat, cold, and rain. They would have to be planed down to get rid of the course finish, more on this below.
Above is a video on how I went about planing the wood down to a 1″ thickness and achieved that smooth finish.
As you can see there’s a significant difference in the look of the wood once its planed down and glued together. I’ve started the butcher block process and needed to make several more panels for both upper and lower shelves.
The planer I have has a maximum width capacity of 12 1/2″. With the boards being only 4″ I could actually increase the number on the panels from 2 to 3 and still have the ability to plane them down without any complications. This is definitely a time saver on this project.
Majority of the wood I found were 2 X 6 pieces, with this 1 exception. I found one piece that was exactly 8″ in width and has a 1″ thickness. However, without realizing it, the board itself was bowed down the middle and even after glueing I couldn’t keep the panel straight.
My solution here was to use the scrap wood from all the 2 X 6 panels I had previously cut. Fortunately, these were already 48″ in length. All I needed now was to glue them up and clamp them for another panel.
Now that all 4 panels are constructed, 2 of them are glued together one final time for the top. I chose the best looking pieces since they would more in likely be utilized the most on this workbench.
The last 2 panels for the bottom shelf have also been glued. As you can see the panel to the right was constructed from that problem I had earlier.
Now it’s on to the frame. Unfortunately, my brother doesn’t have any 2 X 4 pieces and at this point I didn’t have much time to rip anymore boards and plane them down to act as a frame. I figured I’d spend the 6-$8 at Home Depot on these, cut them down and construct. For the 48″ X 24″ measurements, only 3ea. 2 X 4’s were needed for the frame, and this is for 2 frames.
I really wanted this bench to have as much support as possible, which is why I decided to go with 4 X 4 legs. That and also the fact it was free!!! Since I decided on a 36″ height I cut these down to 32 1/2″ in length. It’s 36″ minus a 1″ thickness for the top and another 2 1/2″ for the wheels (which you’ll see below).
Much like the 2 X 6 pieces, these 4 X 4 legs had to be planed as well. As you can see in the 2nd picture the difference in the wood once it’s planed. To prevent the wood from being corroded again, I do plan on doing a light sand and finish with a clear coat since for the time being this workbench will be outdoors.
Before I get into the construction of the new workbench, I wanted to show you my very first workbench I made out of pallets. Much like using the reclaimed wood, the pallets were free of charge and these only required a limited number of tools. However, the downside to using pallets is I’m only allowed a certain (overall) length to use and picking the right pallet slats to use for the top and bottom shelves is rather difficult. The other downfall is that pallet slats are extremely thin when comparing to using 2 X 6 pieces, which means extra support must be added.
The good side to the pallet workbench is that it’s a good starting point for those getting into woodworking since you don’t have to spend 100’s of dollars on tools and it will still serve a good purpose, especially for those smaller projects. Below is a link to how to I built that pallet workbench:
Now back to my new work bench; it’s time to attach the top to the frame. Using clamps on each of the 4 corners and down the middle will help prevent any shifting of the top while I screw them into place. Although NOT shown, I did countersink the top prior to drilling screws. I used 1 screw in each of the 4 corners and 1 more on each side in the middle.
Now it’s on to the legs. Once the table top is flipped over I set the 4 X 4’s into each of the 4 corners and countersinking them to them frame. NO screws were used to drill from the topside into the legs. Next would be flip the table on one side and attach the 2nd frame so it’s flush with each of the 4 legs. As you can see I’m still using the same method of clamping everything in place, countersinking, and adding the screws.
The overall weight to this bench is roughly 70lbs. Trying to move this workbench from one place to the next would be rather difficult. So I went ahead added caster wheels, 2 of which have locks of them. However, as you can in the last picture I didn’t factor the overall size into this workbench, meaning I don’t have direct access to the locks on the wheels. For me this isn’t a major concern, but keep the size of your bench in mind if you decide to add wheels to yours.
Now it’s time to add the final piece, the bottom shelf. In order to install it I had to make cut-outs around each of the 4 corners to compensate it being around the legs. I used a spare 4 X 4 as a template, measured the sides that needed to be cut, and used the jigsaw for all the cutting.
The workbench is finally complete. Measuring in at 48″ X 24″ X 36″. This is definitely a big upgrade to the previous (pallet) workbench I constructed. Both the butcher block top and bottom shelf is 1″ thick and solid. Unfortunately with the pallet workbench the slats were a lot thinner and had several gaps in between and they were of different sizes making the overall top uneven.
Please feel free to comment below as I’m open to any/all suggestions.