I built a DIY workbench

// Published February 20, 2017 by Thor Carlson

 

I am sure you will agree with me that a workbench is crucial for successful project completion. Since I love working with my hands as an artist as much as I love building things, I made a DIY workbench. I used medium-density overlay (MDO) panel, which is a type of plywood with a laminate surface. I also used LVL joists and clear Douglas fir. The miscellaneous components of my DIY workbench included 12 pieces each of washers, nuts and carriage bolts. I also used bench dogs and the needed accessories, galvanized lag screws, wood glue, sandpaper and oil finish.

For the benchtop, I purchased two LVL joists, which resemble massive sheets of plywood. Each measured 13/4 inches by 91/2 inches wide and 16 feet long. I had the lumberyard crosscut them into two lengths of 62 inches each to make them easier to work with. This left a 68-inch long offcut.

Using my table saw that I had fitted with a 50-tooth combination rip-crosscut blade, I made the first ripping pass. I had earlier set the saw fence to 3 ⅛ inches. I used a push stick as I was nearing the end of the cut. I made one rip pass on each of the six LVL pieces. To check for flatness and square, I used a straightedge and woodworking square. Then I ripped the joists again to eliminate minor imperfections and the factory edge.

I then used a block plane to remove the small bumps on the spot with two overlapping veneer pieces. I fed each piece through a benchtop planer for a consistently straight and flat surface that’s free of the waxy protective coating applied to the joist at the mill. After planing the pieces, I used a miter saw to crosscut the pieces, with a stop block to ensure a consistent length.

Using a foam paint roller, I applied glue on the face of each LVL piece then clamped the pieces together using the rest of the earmarked benchtop pieces to serve as a reference plane and also a clamping block. To ensure the pieces stay aligned, I used a rafter square. After the glue was cured, I did the same procedure to glue the other three pieces of the top, clamping the 3-piece subassembly to the first 4-piece assembly on one side and the rest of the benchtop pieces on the other side.

This gave me a total of two 4-piece and two 3-piece assemblies. After measuring and marking the centerlines of the holes for the bench dogs, I aligned each mark on every three piece and four-piece assembly glued together then bore the holes on the edge. To complete the top, I glued and clamped all four sections together, then used a cabinet scraper to clean off hardened glue blotches.

 

 

After marking the outline of the Yost vise mounting pads on the top, I clamped a straightedge across the benchtop that would enable me to use a plunge router to cut the recess. After sanding the benchtop, I applied oil finish and installed the vise.

To make the base, I used a miter saw and stop block to crosscut 2×4 and 4×4 lumber and fed the cut up sections through the planer to reduce the thickness of the pieces. This resulted in each 4×4 piece getting reduced to 3 ⅜ inches all around and each 2×4 to 1 2/8 x 3 ⅜ inches. With my table saw outfitted with dado blades, I proceeded to test the setup to cut notches and dadoes into the bench legs.

I chose not to build a back panel for the bench, as it would only be for aesthetic and not structural purposes so it was unnecessary. I clamped the cross supports and legs together to dry fit them, then checked the assembly using a rafter square. For the carriage bolts, I cut the through holes with the parts clamped together, then sanded the cross supports and legs. I then rounded the corners on the cross supports and legs using a chamfer bit and small router.
I applied oil finish to the cross supports and legs then bolted the base together. To this, I mounted the top flush to the outside surface of the base, making sure to do this on the back. After centering the benchtop on the base both left and right, I cut ¼-inch pilot holes through the cross supports right into the top, then drove ⅜-inch lag screws into the bench top. After that, my DIY workbench was complete. Some people use an 8 inch drill press for such jobs, but I think that is unnecessary.


 

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