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Forum topic by Mark posted 05-22-2011 06:01 PM 2473 views 1 time favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Mark's profile


19 posts in 2587 days

05-22-2011 06:01 PM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench question

My brother-in-law helped me build a kitchen island cart a couple of months ago, and now I’m hooked on woodworking. So, I have a few tools, and have what I need to build a workbench. I spent some time researching workenches and found one that looks solid.

So, I went to home depot to buy the wood (because I can rent their truck for $19 to bring it home).

The matierals cutting list calls for 7 boards of “2 by stock” that is 1 and 1/2 inch thick, 7 and 1/2 inches wide, and 96 inches long. But, aren’t 2×4’s four inches wide – and I need 7!

I don’t see anything at home depot that is 1 and 1/2 inches thick. I gave up and came home to do more online research.

What kind of wood should I buy for this plan?

15 replies so far

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4123 days

#1 posted 05-22-2011 06:23 PM

2×4’s are smaller than 2×4. It looks like 8 foot 2×8’s are what you need and then a jointer/planer/table saw to dimension them to exact measurements. Take a small rule or tape measure with you.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View scottv11's profile


29 posts in 2589 days

#2 posted 05-22-2011 06:32 PM

wayne is right. All “2 x” lumber is actually 1/2” shorter that its name in both directions. Soo a 2×4 is actually 1 1/2×3 1/2 A 2×6 is really 1 1/2×5 1/2.
By the way find yourself a real lumberyard. The Home despot is not the place to buy wood.

Good luck enjoy the building.

View mmax's profile


179 posts in 3481 days

#3 posted 05-22-2011 06:35 PM

I have this little gem on my key chain so I always have a way to check lumber thickness.,104,53212&ap=8

-- Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3094 days

#4 posted 05-22-2011 07:07 PM

Mark -

Almost all lumber is described in terms of it’s rough sawn dimensions, but sold in “finished” sizes. For example, a “2×4” began life as a full 2” x 4”, but lost ~1/2” in width and thickness during the milling from rough to S4S (Surfaced on Four Sides). Those 1.5” x 7.5” boards were right there on the HD racks but the sign said “2×8”. Don’t feel bad, this happens to everyone who gets into buying lumber. – lol

You can build a very servicable bench with HD “framing” lumber (I’ve made several over the years), but I strongly recommend that you buy kiln dried lumber. The regular stuff is really wet and will almost certainly do weird things (warp, cup, bow, twist) as it dries. It’s OK for rough framing, but not so good for things that need to be a little prettier. Look for lumber with a “KD” (Kiln Dried) marking, and you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.

Oh yeah, you might find that the actual thickness of “2 by” stock is even a little less than 1.5”. Years ago, “2 x” actually measured a little more than 1.5”. As the mills have tried to squeeze every possible board from their logs, the thicknesses have gotten a little less. It doesn’t really affect the structural integrity all that much, but it’s framing lumber – not fine lumber.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Mark's profile


19 posts in 2587 days

#5 posted 05-22-2011 07:51 PM

Got it now. I should have taken a tape measure with me and I would have figured that out. But, I’m glad I did the right thing by doing some research here and feeling confident about what I’m doing before I go do it.

It might take me a while to build this bench, but nice to know I’ve got a community to help me along the way.

Thanks everyone!

View JasonWagner's profile


527 posts in 3206 days

#6 posted 05-22-2011 07:52 PM

First off, HD should have 2×8 lumber. That would give you your 1.5×7.5 boards. Second, looking at the plans most of the wood is no wider than 5” in the plans. See how much wood you actually need 7.5” wide. Just because plans are written up and in a magazine or online doesn’t mean they’ve got your best interests in mind. Lastly, I’m sure there are plenty of plans out there where you can make a whole bench from 2×4s.

Just looked closer…the cut sheet shows that you could get away with a lot narrower boards. You can also put in some effort and figure out how to cut all of the boards in half so they’ll fit in your car. HD does one cut in each piece for free usually.

-- some day I hope to have enough clamps to need a clamp cart!

View HallTree's profile


5664 posts in 3793 days

#7 posted 05-22-2011 09:59 PM


-- "Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life" Solomon

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4244 days

#8 posted 05-22-2011 10:14 PM

Mark, now that you’ve got an understanding of dimensional lumber, you are ready to move on to advanced class and learn about buying lumber in board foot quantities. That’ll really give you a headache until you get the hang of it. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Camper's profile


232 posts in 2882 days

#9 posted 05-22-2011 10:23 PM

well, once you get over the headache you will figure out that box stores are not the best place to buy lumber from :)

-- Tampa-FL

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3572 days

#10 posted 05-23-2011 03:46 AM

Mark, my advice would to build cabinet bases for you work bench because that will give you some good experience with building cabinetry and also the base cabinets will offer you plenty of great tool storage. Then your work bench will be done out of furniture grade plywood which you should be able to find at a hardwoods lumber yard for a fair price. The first workbench I built was with 2×4 lumber but was not the best for accessible storage which is needed in any workshop.

-- .

View nate22's profile


475 posts in 2901 days

#11 posted 05-26-2011 04:22 PM

I agree with some of the others find a good lumber yard or some place else to get your lumber. Not the box stores.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2940 days

#12 posted 05-26-2011 05:01 PM

In the long run, the folks above are correct about finding a better lumber store, BUT in the short run even HD can have decent 2×4s, 2×8s and MDF. IMO, this project is doable straight from HD and it will teach some skills while being a very useful bench.

Personally, I went way the heck overboard on my first workbench project and spent over $1k on it before all was said and done. Your approach is sound and looking at your attached plans, who knows, I might build this one as well since I do have the need for another bench, but without the vises this time.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Mark's profile


19 posts in 2587 days

#13 posted 05-29-2011 09:29 PM

I bought my wood from HD, had to wait an hour for the guy to put 2×8 x 8’s on the shelf because they only had 2 out, and I needed 8. Altogether I bought 3 pieces of MDF at $30 each, and 8 boards of 2×8 x 8 for just a bit over $5 each. Total out of pocket for lumber was around $140, plus the $20 to rent the truck to get it home. I’ve already got most my cross cuts done, but am not real sure how to rip with my circular saw (and I don’t have a table saw) – so I’m going to do more research on ripping so that when I do it that I do it right and SAFE! I’m already learning some on this project… forgot to lower my blade on the first cut so I didn’t cut the piece all the way…. duh. And am learning more about where to line up my circular saw (Ridgid 32021)

Thanks for all the help everyone!


View Kevin's profile


462 posts in 3231 days

#14 posted 06-06-2011 04:13 AM

Personally, I would probably modify the settings somewhat and make use out of the normal thickness of a 2×4. Being your first project it would give you some experience framing, bracing while giving you a nice workbench to do future projects on.

I don’t particuraly like ripping 2×4’s on my TS. I prefer hardwood for almost all projects.

Anyway, it can be done with a straightedge, some clamps and taking your time while being careful.

Once you do a few projects you will be able to look at a plan, project or whatever it may be and go with it from there. I usually do not stick to the actual plans.

Here is a video that may be of interest. I did a quick google search of <how>


-- Williamsburg, KY

View patron's profile


13607 posts in 3367 days

#15 posted 06-06-2011 05:03 AM

for ripping your wood without a jointer
try this

works for panels too
and with routers
just use a straight ‘fence’ piece
and leave the bottom wider
and cut it with the saw or router
and you have a straight edge
(you need one for each tool
so mark them for that tool
and bit size if you use a router

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

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