Building an inexpensive small shop workbench

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Forum topic by Bernie posted 12-28-2016 01:44 PM 1296 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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422 posts in 3846 days

12-28-2016 01:44 PM

For under $200 you can build yourself a workbench that does everything a beautiful $4000+ workbench does. And it can be built in a day…

1st start with a base – I used a solid core door I cut down too the size I needed 30 inches X 70 inches. If you can’t find a solid core door use 2 sheets of cheap construction plywood (you can even use the extra cut-offs sandwiched between the 2 sheets [gaps are acceptable]). My base is attached to a 2X4 frame.

2nd cutout a whole through the entire thickness for the sliding end of a pipe clamp… then cut a channel for the pipe so it lays just under the top surface of the bench.

3rd screw down your t-tracks on top of 1/4 inch thick strips

Then I covered the bench with 1/2 hardboard. The surface of this hardboard should be the same height as the tracks.

The final surface is a $10 1/8 inch hradboard. If I damage it or it becomes ugly with paint and stains, I’ll replace it.

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

2 replies so far

View Robert's profile


4440 posts in 2489 days

#1 posted 12-28-2016 02:38 PM

For under $200 you can build yourself a workbench that does everything a beautiful $4000+ workbench does.

Bit of a stretch there, Bernie :-)

Please don’t take offense its a nice bench correct me if I’m wrong but it appears to be limited to horizontal clamping.

I don’t see any provision for bench dogs or holes for bench hooks in any case a top that thin they won’t work.

The thickness of the top is going to eliminate the ability to use bench hooks plus a top that thin doesn’t lend itself well to pounding like when chiselling.

It all depends on the type of ww’ing you’re doing. I think you’re probably doing a lot of routing, sanding, pocket hole drilling, etc, but for hand tool work its not going to be a good bench.

Those clamps sticking up above the bench risk denting the edge of a board when moving around.

A thicker top with some vises would complete the package.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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422 posts in 3846 days

#2 posted 12-29-2016 03:25 AM

Thank you rwe2156. I do appreciate criticism.

You probably missed the face vise in the 1st picture and along with that, I have other options featured in the other old thread I that has resurfaced.

I don’t need any bench dogs or hooks – I got the tracks and they’ve been working fine for over 5 years. One time I had a piece slip under pressure so I added another back-up knob to act like a double nut on a threaded bolt. I don’t see the tracks weakening even with just 3 layers of ply (would allow a 2 inch screw and there are lots of them along a 4 ft track. I suggested the layers of ply for those who can not acquire a 2 inch solid door like I have.

The clamps are not above the surface of the bench – they lie just below. I just finished a 70 inch X 40 inch table top for my daughter-in-law made of solid cherry with breadboards on the ends (glued in the middle and sliding MT to allow for wood movement). I built a desk for another son, chest of drawers for a grand daughter and lots of other projects on the bench.

The top can be as thick as anybody wants to make it – and as for the holding or clamping options – I’ve got them all. The cheap end vises (pipe clamps) can be dismantled in less then 30 sec and re-installed in about 1 min. With them removed, I have holes…

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

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