While at HD recently, I found a large bin full of 4' premium 2x10s in
their culled lumber for $0.51 / piece. I've been meaning to build a
basement workbench, and figured these would be perfect for the work
surface. My plan is to lay them down side by side like a deck and
cover them with a piece of 1/4" oak ply.
My question is, given 4' boards to work with and no floor space
limitations, how deep would you make the bench. At 4' I won't
really be able to reach the peg board in the back, but I would have
that much more surface on which to work.
My other question is, how high would you make it? Is there a rule of
thumb such as x inches above the waist?
Thanks in advance,
Nice, Jack. I hadn't thought of using allthread. I'm guessing it
creates a very rigid surface and takes some of the bounce out. Did you
lay a ply top over the boards? I ask because I'm not sure how to
If I use finish nails it will eventually come loose, but gluing it down
with liquid nails seems a little too permanent.
I made the height of mine match that of my table saw: Makes a
handy "extension" sometimes. Actually I try to keep everything
at the same height and generally use the table saw as the
Height= distance from your hands to the floor while standing with your
arms slightly bent.
Depth=1.25 times the length of your arm
It is your bench, build it for you not according to some standard
It should be the same height as your sawhorse.
More seriously, it depends on what sort of work you're doing,
and whether yout expect to be doing it seated or standing.
If you're sawing on it with hand-saws, you're going to
want it low enough so you can get on top of the saw.
Likewise with heavy-duty hammering. If you're doing
a lot of fiddly detail work, you probably want it higher.
Build an adjustable sawhorse and try working on it
until you find a height that's comfortable for what
you expect to be doing.
Skip the Oak and go with 3/4" fir. It's about the same
price and you'll enjoy the added rigidity and ability to
scrape it clean frequently.
IF at ALL possible, keep the bench away from the wall enough
that you have 360 degree access if you're going to build
casegoods or larger projects.
Measure up to your bent elbow. That is a great height for
In a past life <grin> I had three workbenches in my shop and
all were at different heights. The one I used about 80% of
the time was the monster I built to be "elbow height" when I
was standing beside it. Just stand and bend your arm and
have someone measure the height to your elbow. It sure
worked for me. The second most popular bench was a small
one I built to be 34" tall. I'm just a tad over 6', so you
can adjust that to your own height.
That bench was perfect for assembly of casegoods, such as
cabinet frames, and also for furniture I was building.
Since I'm trying to put off having to go outside and trim
some palms, let me expand on my favorite workbench. Simply
stated, it was strong as a bull. I built it by starting
with a framework of 2X4's that I did lap joints on. There
was one at each corner and another at the center of each
long side. The top was 4X8, made with two sheets of 3/4"
plywood. The top overlapped the sides by 2". That was
important for the purpose of clamping.
On one corner, I mounted a wood vice so that it was flush
with the top surface. Each side was skinned with 3/4"
plywood over the 2X4 framework. You could park a Mack Truck
on the bench. When the top got funky with glue blobs, paint
build-up or similar stuff, a simple going over with a paint
scraper took it back to smooth as a baby's bottom.
The best part of my favorite bench was that I had two banks
of three drawers on each of the long sides. The drawers
were 5" deep and about 32" long, as I recall. Beneath those
were little doors, What is important is that the drawers
began 4" below the work surface, so there was plenty of room
for a 2X4 stringer and plywood to act as a "header" for the
I went to Harbor Freight and bought a lifetime supply of
parts bins, filling about 8 of the 12 drawers. Later, I
drove to Lynchburg VA to McFeeley Screw Company and bought
almost $500 worth of screws in 1000 screw boxes. I'd fill
the bins with about 200 screws, and keep the rest on a back
shelf for refills. Words cannot describe the luxury of
being able to just pull open a drawer and get out precisely
the screw you need for a job. Other luxuries included
buying one of every conceivable assortment of allen screws,
"O" rings, lynch pins etc. that Harbor Freight sold and
keeping them in a drawer. It was almost like having a
hardware store in the basement, since I had so many of those
little weird parts you need once every 14 years at my
Well, that's enough for now. The temperature outside just
hit 80f and is climbing to a predicted 100f today, so it's
time to go chop off those dead palm fronds.
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