Workbench You Can Build in an Afternoon

If you’re looking for a quick project this Memorial Day weekend, or any other for that matter, here’s a low-cost bench option for you.

A couple weeks ago, I reported on my trusty old, cosmetically challenged workbench. The goal, really, was to support those of you out there who are more concerned with utility in your shop fixtures than high style. In other words, you build sturdy workaday shop fixtures so you can get on with more important projects. And, that’s okay in my book; I do it, too.

Well, a few of you were interested in building one of these workbenches for your shop. And, some even commented that it’s just as “legitimate” a workbench as something that could cost a lot more money or be more exactingly designed.

Thanks for the kinds words of support, and even the soft admonishing. You’re right: a bench that works is a workbench, after all. And they take many forms.

So, I’m going to return the favor. If you’d like make one of my workbenches, you can get a set of measured drawings, step-by-step instructions and a material list in PDF form by clicking here. There’s no cost or hidden strings attached. Call it a little gift from me to you. Make it to match mine, or change it up any way you see fit. There’s no right or wrong here, that’s for sure.

Now, and I do mean this honestly—this bench shouldn’t take you more than an afternoon to build. If it does, you’re working too hard at it! Once it’s built, you don’t have to treat it with kid gloves, either. After all, it’s just 2x lumber, MDF and screws. Still, this big ol’ bench has held up well for me for ten years now, as simple as it is. I hope it gives you just as many years of “helping hand” with your woodworking.

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

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  • skspurling

    That looks like a great “shop table”/workbench. I don’t think I would ever tear it down like you mentioned in the original article, because it would also serve as a great catch all, machine tool workbench, and assembly/finishing table. I think this is the bench I am going to build. I have needed something more permanent for some time, and this looks like it will fit the bill. Thanks for the plans!

  • Stafford White

    Thanks so much for the time and effort you put into making the plans for your workbench for us. The plans look as good as the bench itself.


  • Paulette

    Thanks Chris!!! You’re the best! Now I know what I’m doing with my weekend! 🙂

  • mikeyb

    This looks just right for the DIY shop. I don’t need fancy, just solid and reliable. I gonna build this beast. (with wheels of course)..Thanks for the plans..

    • Chris Marshall


      It is a beast, but a tame one. Good thing about this bench is, you can use it as hard as you like and not feel too bad if it get some dings and stains on it. Hope it works as well for you as it has me.



  • Edward

    Chris–I don’t see any holes for bench dogs, but if you wanted to drill some, how many and where do you want to put them? What’s the best layout for bench dogs?


    • Chris Marshall


      First, you’d need to add a vise to this bench, either on the side or the end. Then, the number and spacing of your bench dog holes would really depend on how long or wide your workpieces are that you’d be clamping in it. You could really bore as many dog hole, and rows of holes as you like. I don’t happen to do much face or edge flattening with hand planes, so I didn’t put any dogs in my bench. I use the deep overhangs of the table top as clamping surfaces when I need to secure something for routing or chopping. Hope this helps.


  • Mike

    It is so simple even a caveman can do it!!!!!

  • This reminds me of the first work table I built. It started out with a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood. I built the frame with 2X4’s with cross pieces for the top at 16 inches on center. I left 8 inch over hang all the way around and added 1X4 strips flat to the plywood to help support the 8 inch overhang. After the table was finished I decided to cover the raw edge of the plywood so I took some old hard wood that was given to me and ripped some 1/2 X 2 inch strips and put them on with Gorilla Glue and brad nails. I did not plan on wheels until I had my wife help me move it, after which she said “Why didn’t you put wheels on that monster?”. So I did, made it perfect. But I had to get rid of it when I lost my home. I’m going to build this one but about 18 to 24 inches shorter to better fit my smaller shop space. Thank you for the plans, they will help greatly.

  • Pamm

    Haven’t begun this project, but feel encouraged that I can do this! As a 60 year old woman who just lost her husband (and his garage full of tools and workbench) I have started my resettling by making the garage mine. First things first, a workbench. I am one step away from not knowing one end of a hammer from the other, but that is where this on line help is amazing.
    Thanks in advance for the easy to follow plans. I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out. By the way, the wheels, brilliant idea I hadn’t thought of.

    • Chris Marshall


      You totally can do this, and more power to you! It’s not a hard project, and however it turns out is something only you will know. So, do take the plunge! It’s surprisingly sturdy. In fact, I just had about 600 lbs. sitting on mine for a couple months.

      Good luck with your new woodworking pursuits. It might be just the inspiration you need.



  • Elizabeth

    How much would you say it the total cost of the materials…just ball park figure.

  • Chris Marshall

    Elizabeth, I would guess this workbench would be about $50 or so, including the casters, if you use ordinary 2x construction lumber and MDF for the top.

  • pat

    I found the plans—Thanks

  • Steve Gronsky

    Chris, I’m just seeing this is early 2015 but it sure looks to me like it would be a “workhorse” of a bench. Thanks for including plans too. I just may replace what I’ve been using with this (slightly modified). An 8′ bench is a bit of overkill for my garage shop.

  • Nonni

    Chris Marshall,
    I need to make this into a work table for pottery students to work at. Would moving the bottom shelf closer to the floor make it less stable? Also, I plan to move the bottom part of the table (legs, shelf, supports) further away from the table edge to provide more space for adult students to put their knees. How far can I come in without reducing stability-especially along the table edges? I do plan to make the shelf about 18 inches deep. I will also add another shelf with the top just 10 inches from the bottom of the supports. Another question, what is the best way to support 2x4s and 4×8 plywood when cutting with an electric circular saw. I have saw horses but no work bench.