Some time ago I found free workbench plans for making a workbench from a single sheet of plywood. A large part of what made the plans attractive was the fact that it could be built with common tools. Being on a tight budget and not having access to a table saw, I thought this would be a good idea.
Download a print ready PDF copy of these free workbench plans.
A lot of workbench frames featured mortise and tenon joints, and some with a bolt as extra reinforcement.
If anyone has tried to make a chair, you know, the old fashioned kind, they have mortise and tenon joints, and no matter how well they are made, over time, the joints work loose.
Same with workbenches, so it seemed to me to be a good idea to include a bolt as reinforcement. So far so good. Still with the challenge of making something with bulky heavy timber when not only is it a challenge, hard work, all those things that I try to avoid, it's not exactly cheap either.
So on with the thinking cap once more. My ambition was to use project timber, even though it was more expensive than the stuff that builders and carpenters use, it was more suitable to fine woodworking because it was DAR (Dressed All Round.)
Of course I use the term fine woodworking rather loosely, and because I don't have access to a jointer or thicknesser. It also means it is a bit more stable than building timber, and suitable for lamination.
Which led me to my brilliant idea, which was to laminate three pieces of 1 inch timber, leaving a gap in the middle to form the mortise, and likewise form the tenon by making the two outer pieces slightly shorter.
The photo shows how the mortise is formed in the leg of the frame.
Laminate three pieces, with a gap in the middle piece to form the mortise.
Next was the issue of the reinforcing bolts. Not having a proper drill press, I knew it would be next to impossible to drill a hole longitudinally with any degree of accuracy. Here again the idea of lamination came to the rescue. Instead of drilling a long hole, why not cut a groove on the inside face of each laminate, as shown in the photo below.
Photo showing the groove cut into the facing sides of the laminate, with the threaded rod with nut and washer resting on one side.
In this example, I cut the groove with a v - shape bit mounted in a router, cut to half the depth to fit the 9.5mm threaded rod.
For the top, I was planning on using a single sheet of MDF, and laminate that as well. Basically, cut the sheet into three pieces and laminate them with contact adhesive.
As things worked out, the need for cutting mortise and tenon joints was not completely eliminated, but minimised. It turned out to be a pretty good compromise - a relatively cheap easy to make workbench that does not rack at all and as the joints are not glued, it can be taken apart as well, but as to why anyone would want to do that escapes me. Oh, hang on, maybe for transporting, after all it is rather heavy.
To fix the worktop to the frame, I simply attached a two by four block of wood to the underside, and a woodscrew through the frame.
The photo shows a pair of spacer blocks to complete the ensemble.
Download a PDF copy of the free workbench plans.
Four pages in total, simply print them on your home printer.
This is a list of materials that I used for making my workbench. 1 sheet of 16 or 18mm thick MDF 1.2m x 1.8m (8 ft x 4 ft) 19 x 90mm Pine 12.0m long 19 x 90mm Pine 8.5m long 19 x 65mm Pine 9.0m long 9.5mm threaded rod four lengths 750mm long 8 x 10mm nuts, 8 wingnuts and 16 washers 8mm dowel 2.7m long in total
This is a list of tools that I used to make this workbench:
Visit the woodworking projects gallery to view projects from people all around the world.