Build a $50 workbench and start woodworking

A few weeks ago, I picked up a book at the library with some furniture projects I wanted to build around the house, “Ridiculously Simple Furniture Projects: Great Looking Furniture Anyone Can Build.”  Author Spike Carlsen breaks projects down into just one or two pages of instructions with beautiful pictures and minimal material and tool requirements.  The second project in the book is a Tic-Tac-Toe Shelf that looked nice and easy to tackle.  The author uploaded it to Pinterest if you want to take a look:

However, as I was contemplating cutting out a curved piece of wood with a jigsaw and notching it with a chisel, I remembered that I’d be doing it on the floor of my garage.  Since buying my first house back in 2001, I’ve collected a fair number of tools, but have never had a proper workbench to build things on.  So I decided I needed a workbench to build a tiny brick-a-brac shelf.

The bench I decided on was one I found on Family Handyman after a lot of web searching. Entitled “Super Simple $50 Bench,” people were talking about it only taking 4 hours to build a very sturdy and practical bench.  The materials required are straightforward: 15 2″ x 4″ x 8′ studs, cut to various lengths, one sheet of 1/2″ plywood, lots (I used about 2 1/2 lbs) of 3″ screws for framing, and some 1 5/8″ screws to secure the plywood bench tops.

The nice guy in lumber at Home Depot did most of the long cuts on my studs and plywood for free.  The only downside is that some of the lengths were off by 1/2″ or so, so my finished bench is not entirely square.

A couple of warnings: This project takes longer than 4 hours if you’re working alone, especially if you’re building on the garage floor because you don’t have a proper workbench.  Also, $50 is low for current prices.  My final costs were about $100 for basic materials, and another $40 or so for a light, pegboard, and a power strip.

All that said, two weekends later, I have a completed workbench in my garage.

Finished workbench with pegboard and light

While it might not be exactly square, it’s incredibly sturdy.  So sturdy that I had to have my neighbor come over to help me move it to the other side of the garage, since Valerie couldn’t lift the other side of it up for more than a second.  I put on some pegboard, a light and a power strip, but still want to run pegboard all the way across and apply some polyurethane or Danish oil to the plywood tops to protect them.

Now I’m ready to tackle that shelf.  Next weekend.


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