My house isn’t a home without a place to work in the garage. In the last 20+ years of home ownership and renter-ship, I’ve always had a workbench. Whether it was a small work table I built out of 2x4s and plywood, or a large, complex bench built with 2x6s and bolted to the wall, I’ve always had “my place” in the house.
Moving to Orlando from Indianapolis meant leaving my old workbench behind. This one was the best I had ever built — 17 linear feet, L-shaped, and was so solid, I could stand on it. I built it with 2x6s, 2x8s, and 2x12s for the top. The top was lauan plywood, which had three coats of polyurethane on it for durability, and I wrapped the whole top in 1×3 pine. This is where I worked on my projects, stored my woodworking tools, and even kept my books.
I wasn’t too happy when I had to leave my bench behind.
When we moved into our new house in Oviedo, I knew I wanted another workbench, but because we’re in a rental, and will most likely move again someday, I didn’t want anything permanent. And because my days of standing on my workbench for no particular reason are behind me, I decided I didn’t need something massive and sturdy.
I remembered an old New Yankee Workshop episode where Norm Abram had built a work table completely out of plywood. He even made it so it could be rolled around, and then the wheels lifted out of place. I found the episode on YouTube and watched it several times for inspiration.
(I was also pleased to find other New Yankee Workshop episodes there, so I watched several of those. I miss NYW, and wish Norm would come back.)
After turning my plans over and over in my brain for a while, I finally settled on a design. But unlike my other workbenches, I actually sketched this one out. It had been a point of pride that I had designed my past workbenches and tables in my head, and didn’t make a single sketch. But this time, I needed some actual plans so I didn’t waste any wood or make expensive mistakes.
For one thing, I was going to use all plywood, at $48 per sheet, and I didn’t want to buy too much, or have a lot of waste. So I sketched out the bench and created a cutting diagram. I even looked at it several times, so there may be something to this whole “plan it out in advance” technique everyone keeps talking about.
I won’t go through all the construction details, except to say God bless the inventor of the square head screw. I’m a firm believer in this over the Philips-head screw. Also, the flathead screw was created by the devil himself.
My son Ben helped me out a lot on this project too. I would explain the steps to him so he could see how things went together, how tools worked, and to get him interested in woodworking. (He has said he’d like to be a luthier, a maker of guitars, so I figured I might as well give him a taste of the woodworking life). I tried to get my daughters involved too, but they weren’t as interested.
In the end, it took about three weeks to build the project, because I could only work on it on weekends, grabbing a few hours here and there. My neighbor, Mike, would stop by to check on my progress, and when I was done, I showed it off to him, complete with 4′ x 8′ peg board, and the triple-coated polyurethane top.
Now, if we ever move again, I don’t have to leave anything behind. I can unscrew the peg board and shelves from the wall, and just cart everything onto the truck, where it can be reinstalled in my new garage.
And I’m already thinking of new ideas for my next workbench. But I probably won’t be building one of my own. So if anyone wants some helping building a new workbench for their garage, let me know. I’ll be happy to help.