Workbench advice wanted

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Forum topic by drpdrp posted 03-10-2014 01:36 PM 924 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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150 posts in 2072 days

03-10-2014 01:36 PM

My bench is a very basic 2×5 with 3/4 maple ply top on a frame of 2×4s with 2×4 legs and a second 2×4 frame about halfway down. All held together with drywall screws. I recently cut a chunk out of one of the top frame 2×4s and installed an entry level woodworking vice.

A few things about the bench bother me.

1) It lacks heft.
2) The 2×4 frame has the 2×4s situated with the x4 part vertical. I did this so the legs would be close to the corner and have more support. But because the edge of the bench is now 4’+ thick with the bottom being only 1.5 or so deep- it is a hassle to clamp things to. Uh, if that was not clear- it is because I can only get a solid even grip 1.5 inches from the edge.
3) It has a bit of wiggle when under lateral pressure.

I was thinking I would add a second 2×4 to each leg and then fill the cavity under the top with 2×4s.

Then I wondered if I should just start over.

I’ve got three other benches of the same design and I kinda dig that it is all uniform though. This is the only one that really needs to be beefed up. Of the others one holds the miter saw and one the bandsaw so they don’t get much abuse anyway.


5 replies so far

View bigblockyeti's profile


5140 posts in 1747 days

#1 posted 03-10-2014 01:56 PM

It sounds like you have a foundation that could easily be beefed up. Whether or not you want to start over is a function of what you’re willing to spend, how much space you have for your bench and how much time you want to spend constructing a new bench. I’ve found that regardless of what you build for your shop, sooner or later your going to find something bigger, nicer, more substantial, etc. As far as adding heft, that can be as simple as sandbags on a bottom shelf and some reinforcing gussets in the corners to keep the table from wobbling. More structure as in the additional 2×4 you mentioned certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea.

View bondogaposis's profile


4767 posts in 2377 days

#2 posted 03-10-2014 05:28 PM

I’d start by thinking about what type of vises you want to have and dogs and holdfasts. What type of work holding do you need and then build a bench around that. Wobbly is not good, if your bench wobbles now it will only wobble more in the future. I’d start over, there are ton of work benches posted on Lj look at those for inspiration.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Woodknack's profile


11794 posts in 2406 days

#3 posted 03-11-2014 01:07 PM

A picture is worth a 1,000 words, hard to tell if you should rebuild or change a few things. Rigidity is in the design and doubled 2×4 legs sounds like a good plan but there are plenty of free plans floating around for good workbenches built from 2x material.

-- Rick M,

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2997 days

#4 posted 03-11-2014 01:46 PM

Don’t forget joinery.

By that I mean, for example, make the connection between the legs and the apron into a glued and pinned half lap joint and the strength will be increased by 4x at least. And there is no requirement for fancy dovetails or even mortise and tenons, although they are nice and definitely strong, the half lap is very easy to obtain when you are “doubling up” the legs. Just offset one layer and you have the lap with the strengthening shoulder to stop racking. Do the same with your lower stretchers. Just leave a gap in the layered leg for the stretcher to fit into. You won’t believe how much difference these little changes make in the strength and rigidity of your bench until you try it.

I really like the plywood tops on several of my benches. But I think they need to be at least two layers of 3/4” plywood. My main bench is a Roubo style but made of plywood. The top is four layers of plywood topped with a replaceable layer of MDF. It’s 3 1/2” thick and has no apron. The legs are mortised into the top.

View Woodknack's profile


11794 posts in 2406 days

#5 posted 03-11-2014 01:57 PM

Speaking of … I just posted this in another thread but you might get some ideas. This is a lathe stand, not a workbench obviously, but it’s very rigid because of the lower stretcher which is notched into the legs.

-- Rick M,

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