June 7


How to Create a Utility Workbench that Takes Up No Space

By Rob

This simple woodwork bench plan is ideal for a garage or utility room, and it takes up very little space on the floor.


Construct You Simple Work Bench

To make a notch for the horizontal supports you'll add in the next step, cut 1-1/2 inch deep saw kerfs into the ends of the back legs (A).

Cutting with the two legs clamped together saves time and ensures that the pieces are identical.

Growing up in a small house with a bunch of kids, a dog, a couple of cats and short-term guests like turtles and goldfish was a whole lotta fun, but let’s face it—personal space was nonexistent.

Any project that anyone had was slated for the kitchen table.

That ’60s-style chrome-legged table was used for everything from making cookies to folding laundry to spray-painting model cars and planes, and yes, doing homework, too.

Often, in the middle of a task we kids were told to take it elsewhere. We usually chose the coffee table or piano bench, which have the scars to prove it.

What we really needed was a work area that we could stand or sit at, where we’d be able to do our projects from start to finish.

The perfect solution for tasks like these is this sturdy utility bench.

It’s solid, cheap, easy to sweep under and just the right size for chores that need a space of their own. 

The bench is made from lumber, plywood and hardware that are available at any home center or lumberyard (see “Shopping List” in Additional Information, below).

The frame is made from 2x4s, and the top and shelves are made from 3/4-in. plywood (just buy a half sheet) edged with 3/4-in. thick boards.

Note: Buy your 2×4 material at least a week before assembly and stack it in the house.

This will allow the wood to dry and stabilize, and prevent further shrinking or warping after assembly.

The shelves and shelf supports lock the side supports together and prevent any movement while you’re hammering or sawing on the top.

Screw the shelf supports (E and F) into the back legs (A) and the diagonal supports (C) with 2-inch screws (drill the pilot and countersink holes first). 

Be sure to slide a 3/4-in. spacer underneath the shelf supports as you install them to leave room for the rear shelf cleat (K)

The front apron and rear cleat glued and nailed to each plywood shelf add strength, so you can really load each shelf.

This project is designed with the beginner in mind.

All you need are a circular saw, a framing square, a drill and drill bits, a hammer, wrenches, a few small clamps, and a little building experience.

Once you gather all the materials, you can easily have the bench up and ready to use in a few hours.

It’ll go even quicker if you have the lumberyard rip (cut lengthwise from 1×6) the 2-1/4 inch wide fronts for the shelves and top and the 3/4-inch x 3/4-inch rear shelf cleats, although you can easily make these cuts with your circular saw. 

If you decide to rip these narrow cleats yourself, a safe and easy way is to rip-cut a 3/4-inch wide piece first from 1×6 using the rip guide that came with your saw. After ripping the long 3/4-inch piece, you can cut it into the two lengths needed.

This table has a finished height of 37-3/4 inch, which works well for most standing tasks.

You can easily adjust the height by changing the length of the rear legs (use the 36-in. height of your kitchen countertops as a baseline for what is comfortable for you).

The construction process will be the same even if you raise or lower the finished height a couple of inches.

Follow the step-by-step building guide in Photos 1 – 8 and check Fig. A for building details.

Not Just For Carpentry

This sturdy bench is also perfect as a potting bench or laundry room table.

If you want a surface that’s easy to clean and protects against spills, apply two coats of polyurethane varnish to the top and the shelves.

We used a water-based finish that dried quickly and was hard as nails by the next day.

The wood work bench can also be used as a potting bench.

Sand and finish the top of the wood work bench to make a laundry room table.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Circular saw
  • Clamps
  • Cordless drill
  • Countersink drill bit
  • Framing square
  • Hammer
  • Level
  • Miter saw
  • Orbital sander
  • Safety glasses
  • Socket/ratchet set
  • Wood chisel
  • Wood glue

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