I put a lot of thought into what a great all-around workbench would be like. This workbench offers comfort, mobility, flexibility, and potential for future add-ons. While this concept may not fit everyone’s taste, I believe whether you are woodworking, crafting, tinkering with electronics, or in need of a general workbench that you shouldn’t look past this one.
I manage to keep all the building materials to one, building the entire frame from just 2 by 4 lumber. There are three main areas to this workbench. Starting with the top, I incorporated a large 2ft by 4ft light panel, light switch, outlet and added a fan for the heck of it. Moving on down, I added a premade workbench top from Husky. Finally, the bottom is an ample open space to store containers, power tools, and other items to stash. I have project plans the go into great detail here.
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- Make Your Cuts & Prepare for Assembly
- Build the Workbench Frame
- Attach the Workbench Posts to the Frame
- Assemble the Top of the Workbench
- Assemble the Lower Storage Shelf
- Add the Casters to the Workbench
- Paint The Workbench
- Electrical Parts
- Add the Lighting Panel
- Installing the Fan
- Add the Husky Workbench Top
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- (14) 2 by 4 lumber
- 5/16 dowels
- 3/8 dowels
- Husky workbench top
- 5in Casters or casters of choice
- (16) 1/4-20 Threaded inserts
- (16) 1in 1/4-20 Screw
- (16) 1/4 Washers
- 2-1/2in #9 wood screws
- 2-1/2in Pocket hole screws
- (2) Corner brackets
- 9in Fan
- 5/16 Threaded insert nut
- 5/16 T-bolt or screw
- 5/16 wing nut or a knob
- Shop stool
- Electrical parts (see below)
Note: A lot is happening in this workbench; however, you don’t have to incorporate everything at once. You can build this frame and add other things later, such as the light, outlet, fan, and other features you wish to add.
The lumber price is through the roof right now, but this is the best I can do to keep a project like this to a reasonable cost.
Let’s get into it!
Make Your Cuts & Prepare for Assembly
While there are many cuts to make within this project, a circular saw can get the job done. The trick around this is to line up parts that should be the same length, clamp parts together, and cut them at once. It’s tedious, but I assure you it can be done.
I made my longest cuts with the circular saw but far my smaller repetitive parts; I jumped over to the miter saw. This is absolutely the quickest way to cut all the parts. Also, if you’re into it, I have free plans to create your own miter saw station as I have here. Check out this article.
Once your cuts have been made, you can drill pocket holes or use a dowel to join the parts. The main difference is dowels require less hardware and therefore will give you a cleaner look but requires more accuracy. Oh, and dowels take a whole lot longer! However, you can plug the pocket holes; the choice is yours.
I can be a bit impatient about seeing progress, so often, I sand parts down after I assemble. It is without question a more efficient approach to sand the parts down while they’re all loose. If you’re painting the workbench, sanding the parts with 120 grit sandpaper is sufficient. However, if you plan to stain it or leave it bare, consider sanding it with 180 grit sandpaper or 220.
Build the Workbench Frame
First, we’ll make the frame for the workbench top. Apply wood glue to the joint, then clamp the pieces together. Now, install the 2-1/2-inch pocket hole screws.
Keeping the wood clamped together helps prevent the pieces from shifting while drilling, which can be a problem when using pocket holes. Repeat this step until your frame is finished.
I added the middle support later in the build to sturdy up the frame. But now is the time to install it.
Attach the Workbench Posts to the Frame
Next, lay out two of the posts and place the assembled frame on top of them; I used a couple of 2x4s to set the height of the frame. This part requires a lot of thinking; you must consider the size of the casters you want to use, the height of the frame for the top of the workbench, plus the actual thickness of the workbench top. This will determine the final height of your workbench top.
Connect the frame to the posts by drilling a few pilot holes to keep the wood from splitting, then drill in your wood screws. Drill your screws deep enough to leave space to plug them later with the dowels.
Reposition your frame onto its side to add the other two posts and repeat the method above.
Assemble the Top of the Workbench
Next, connect the posts with a stretcher along top for the front and back of the workbench. Then, close the sides.
Close the top and bottom of the workbench off by securing the 2x4s to both ends with your pocket hole screws.
Assemble the Lower Storage Shelf
Moving down to the bottom of the workbench secure the side with pocket hole screws to close up the open ends. Next, add a 2 by 4 along the back.
Attach a 2×4 to both sides; this will determine the depth of the bottom shelf. These will be secured to the side with two wood screws. Next, place the front 2×4 along the front of the side panel to finish the shelf frame. Finally, secure the front panel with a pocket hole screw on both ends.
I added a frame for this build-out for additional storage while leaving the middle as open as possible. This is not required, but the more surface, the better. These parts are attached with a combination of wood screws and pocket hole screws.
Add the Casters to the Workbench
Before installing the casters, make sure the area even and the casters can sit flat. You can check this by placing the casters and see if it wobbles. If you joined the parts even with each other, pat yourself on the back and carry on. Now, if you were not so lucky, use a chisel or a sander to make the mounting surface flat.
Next, outline where the casters will be by tracing the mounting holes onto the lumber.
Use a 3/8th Bit to drill the holes into the outline; by the way, Forstner bits drill the cleanest holes. Any style bit can work; all you need is a 3/8th hole. Also, be conscious of where you drilled your pocket holes as you can run into them during this! Drill the holes approximately 1-1/4in deep.
I installed the threaded inserts in the holes. Finally, mount the casters with screws and washers and tighten them down. After that, you can move the workbench into the upright position.
Paint The Workbench
Before painting, a few things need to be addressed. First, from a visual standpoint, I wanted the pocket holes plugged. This is optional; you can leave the holes as is if they are hidden. You can buy plugs to fill the holes; I like to use a 3/8 dowel. It’s usually a tight fit, so hammer them in and cut them at the surface with a saw.
An alternative to using dowels is to use these plastic caps to cover the pocket holes; I ended up using these at the end because I ran short on dowels.
For the wood screws, I used 5/16 dowels that fit perfectly into the hole the screw head created when driven in deep.
If you didn’t sand your lumber pieces before assembly, now is a good time to go over the entire workbench with your sander and 120 grit sandpaper, followed by 220 grit. Sanding over the dowel will clean up the rough texture created by the flush-cut saw.
The initial plan was to make it an all-black workbench with the golden Husky workbench top. However, I was concerned about it being too dark! So, I painted a few sections to create an accent look. Of course, I can always add paint, but I never want to remove it. So, you can follow my lead or do what you think is best!
To apply the paint, I used a foam roller; they are great! I get good and consistent coverage from them. Next, I used a high gloss water-based black paint, and nope I didn’t prime it; I just applied the paint. One coat was all I needed.
Painting the slats before installing is a huge time saver! Now, my focus is to space them accordingly. I used a scrap piece of 2×4 to space the slats equally. The slats are secure from underneath, so the pocket holes remain unseen. I only used three holes per slat, two on one side and one on the other.
I also added a single slat in that built-out area on both sides of the bottom shelf. I lined them up with the painted slats, so it was not a distraction to look at.
Add the Lighting Panel
I am repurposing a light fixture for my garage. Perfect timing, being I recently took them out. Since they have LED strips, I didn’t need to be concerned with a bulb breaking while pounding on the workbench. Like always, you can find a solution that makes more sense for you. As an alternative, I found a light you can check out; the one I have is discontinued.
Now, to build the frame for the light fixture and install it.
Next, I frame an area to install the electrical junction box.
Now route the electrical wires through the clamp connector. I used a 14-gauge tool replacement plug; you can use an extension cord, but it MUST be a 3-pronged plug rated for a 15 Amp circuit at a minimum, and I highly recommend only using a power cord with a ground wire.
Next, remove the jackets from all electrical wires using a razor blade, and add the outlet and power switch to the junction box.
Then tap off that connection to create another outlet on top of the workbench. The add-on outlet is to supply power to the optional fan.
Installing the Fan
Adding a fan, of course, is an optional feature, but it occurred to me that it’ll be pretty handy to have while spending long hours on a workbench.
First, add the top slats between the two frames on the side of the light panel. The slats were secured with pocket hole screws from the top. Next, I picked the third slat from the front panel and drilled a hole for the insert nut. I used a knob to install the nut, I could have used the same threaded insert I used for the casters, but I happen to have a few knobs.
I found a small 9in fan it seemed to blow strong, was a good size for the bench, and drilled a hole into the bottom of the base. After installing the fan, I drilled a hole to pass the power cord up.
I added an outlet on top of the workbench above the fan and connected that outlet to the existing junction.
Add the Husky Workbench Top
Last but not least adding the workbench top. I happen to like the Husky workbench top; I felt it was a nice touch to the finished product. It has a nice finish, looks good, and the best part is it’s done. It’s on a workbench I have, and I felt this would look nice in this space. So I added the top and secured it with (8) 3in brackets. This top is measured at 24 inches by 72 inches with a thickness of 1-1/4in. However, you can build a top. You can use MDF, plywood, 2 by 4, and even southern yellow pine lumber.
The bottom of the workbench was strategically designed for a stool to be tucked under it. At the same time, the seat does not go all the way under. There’s enough room for you to get closer to the workbench. As is, the stool is a bit high for my liking, even at its lowest level. I’m not sure yet, but I’ll likely cut off about 2 inches from the legs to lower it.
This workbench is great for adding a work spot in a garage or other shared space. The light panel provides extra lighting for projects that require a bit more precision and it can also be rolled out for 360 degrees of space around it when needed for larger projects like woodworking. Tools and other accessories like a Benchtop Router Table clamp right onto the side for easy use and storage as well.