How to Build a Garage Work Bench

What You'll Need
2x4 boards, 6 inches long (4)
2x4 boards, 8 inches long (2)
4x4 boards, 6 inches long (2)
3/4 x4 Douglas fir, flooring or hardwood planks, 6 inches long (6)
Construction grade 3/4 -inch plywood (1 sheet)
Compressed hardboard (1 sheet)
Weather-resistant wood glue
Assortment of screws and lag bolts
Spar Varnish
Varnish brush
Table saw
Electric drill

Building a garage work bench is both a fun and economical project. The fun part is building it in a weekend, and the economical part is that you save money building a bench that will last longer and be twice as sturdy as an ordinary store-bought product.

Step 1 - Construct a Frame

Begin by constructing an upper and lower frame to which the legs will attach. To make optimal use of the four 2x4x6-inch boards, these frames should be cut to two pieces of 54 inches by two pieces of 18 inches. Dry fit the frames to check for accuracy. Glue and screw the frames together, making sure the 18 inch pieces fit tightly between the two 54-inch pieces.

Step 2 - Attach Legs

Cut each of the 6-foot 4x4s exactly in half. This will give you the four legs measuring 36 inches tall. Attach each leg to the inside of one of the frames with only one lag bolt or screw.

Set the legs up with the frame on top and decide if the height is at a desired level. The 4x4 legs can be trimmed so that the frame is at the correct height desired. Remove the lag bolts, apply glue to the leg and frame, clamp and screw the two together. Slide the second frame up approximately 12 inches and glue and screw it to the legs.

Step 3 - Attach the Top

Cut the plywood and compressed hardboard to the same size. This will be determined by how much overhang is desired. Overhang is necessary to attach clamps to hold pieces of wood to the bench while sanding or working. 

A good sized top would be approximately 58x24 inches, but again, this should be cut to the desired dimensions of each builder. Apply glue liberally to the tops of the legs and rails of the top square. Center the plywood top and glue it into each of the posts and screw three screws into each of the top rails. Next, spread glue liberally on the plywood top and attach the compressed board in place. 

Cut the planking to accurately fit the dimensions of the top and attached them with the same glue and screw method, with the exception of counter-sinking the screws. Fill the screw holes with wood putty or plugs to insure a smooth, even working surface.

Applying a Finish

Apply several coats of Spar varnish to help preserve the wood and to keep it from being damaged by other chemicals and finishing products. Be sure to lightly sand the bench between each coat to insure good adhesion of subsequent coats which will help protect the bench. The final coat should be 100% application, with each of the preceding coats being  50-50% mixture of varnish and mineral spirits.