I have been planning this simple workbench for a while. This is actually my first large scale project for me and I was happy for it to be a workbench because to me it didn’t have to be a masterpiece. If I screwed up somewhere down the line, hopefully it wouldn’t be too noticeable so it was a good way for me to practice making mortise and tenon joints and becoming familiar with my equipment and develop my craftsmanship.
Here is a list of the tools that I used to construct the bench:
Bosch Plunge Router
Restored Craftsman Band Saw
Cheap Skilsaw Table Saw
Old Dovetail Saw and Skilsaw Circular Saw I found in my deceased step-grandfather’s shop
1” Stanley Chisel
Here is a list of materials I used:
4 – 8’ lengths of 2×4 studs
2 – 8’ lengths of 4×4 Douglass Fir
1 – 4’x8’ sheet of 3/4” MDF
1/2 – 4’x8’ sheet of masonite
I made sure to take pictures throughout the entire process so that I could put it in my blog to help explain the construction process and each finished stage. So just follow with the little text I have and hopefully the pictures will explain better than my descriptions :)
I first cut the 4×8 sheet of MDF into 4 equal pieces using my circular saw and a guide.
Here is my setup:
and here are the cut pieces:
Then I decided to begin making the frame. I started making mortise and tenons. I cut the mortise first with my plunge router and an edge guide with stop blocks on each end of the mortise. Then I cut the tenon with my band saw and a stop block. I checked the rough fit to make sure the width was right and then I rounded the tenons with a rasp and just test fitted each tenon until it fit snugly it’s matching mortise.
Here is my mortise setup:
here is the final mortise:
here is where I rounded and chiseled the tenons:
here is the final tenon:
Then I dry fitted the short sides together. It all fit like a glove so I went ahead and glued the short sides together with Titebond Wood Glue and clamps.
Once the short sides finished drying and were set, I began making the mortise and tenons for the longer sides. You have no idea how scared I was that I was going to mess up on something and lose all the progress that I had already made! I guess that’s the kind of stress level that comes with serious woodworking :-/ Anyways, it all worked out well! No major mishaps.
Because I didn’t hardly have any work space at the time (hence the reason I wanted to build a workbench), I had to move outside and use the sawhorses in order to cut the mortises.
Here is my mortising set up:
Just to show how nervous I was I did two mortise and tenon joints and dry fitted the pieces together to make sure everything was going as planned:
Thankfully, everything fit nicely so I continued and finished the rest of the joinery.
I wanted to have the shelves inset into the frame so I cut 3/4” rabbet on the inside of the 2×4’s spanning lengthwise. I regretfully didn’t take any pictures of my rabbet set up but I just clamped the work piece onto my table and used my plunge router and guide to make the cut.
Once I finished the rabbets then I dry fitted then glued the entire frame together.
Here is the finished frame:
It fit a lot better than I expected and was square!
One thing I didn’t consider at first was how the humidity here in deep East Texas was going to affect and likely warp my MDF if I didn’t secure it somehow. I worried that the center of my MDF shelves would dish out (sag in the middle) so I added some 2×4 supports in the middle that I trimmed to width on the table saw and used dowels and a drill to secure it.
Once I installed the middle supports on the top and bottom, I cut the MDF shelves to width and length and fit them in. I didn’t glue them down because I wanted to be able to replace them if they got torn up over time (which I figure is likely).
Once I got the shelves set in place I glued the masonite on top of the MDF. I figured putting masonite on the MDF would help preserve the surface since MDF dents and absorbs liquids easily.
I didn’t want my top to warp either, so I added 2×4’s across the long side of the bench and secured them onto the frame by screwing a lag screw through the support and into the 4×4 it rests on. I used a forstner bit to create a hole for the top of the lag screw to be level or under the top surface so the MDF would sit flush against the support.
Here is the lag screw and support installed:
Once I got the supports installed I could glue the glued MDF top onto the frame and secured it with nails.
Last but not least, I attached the masonite top to the MDF top using rubber cement. That way, if I needed to replace the masonite then I could delaminate it from the MDF with some pressure and a flathead screwdriver or two without having to replace the entire top.
So there it is! My first workbench is finished and I’m sure I will be making a revised version sometime in the near future! It is a simple design, but it works for a beginner like me. I felt it was a great starter project for me and I am very pleased with it! I am already planning on making additions to this bench or modifications such as a leg vice and bench dog holes, but I’ll save that for another blog :)
Thanks for reading! Here’s some finished pictures for ya’ll to enjoy!
-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso