Ultimate DIY Workbench

DIY – $1230 (Have it done for $3230)
Skill – 3/5
Time – 5 days

This workbench has it all with built-in lighting, dust extraction ports, a bench dog system for clamping long objects, lots of drawers and slide-out shelving.

Built mostly of CD plywood with maple edging, the bench has quarter-circle supports underneath that are made of two pieces of 19mm plywood with 90 x 45mm pine spacers plus masonite faces. Fluorescent lighting with plastic diffusers, available in sheet form from plastics suppliers, is installed under the top shelf.

The modular design allows for adapting to suit your garage or workshop by removing some of the drawer and light assemblies and reducing the length of the bench.

It’s a straightforward project although there is a lot of cutting so allow about five days to complete it.


Use PVA adhesive on all timber joints with 40 x 2mm galvanised nails for the drawers and dust collection frame, and to assemble the supports. Use 25 x 1.5mm bulletheads to secure the 12 x 19mm maple edging strips.

Use 40mm x 8g timber screws to secure the benchtop to supports, pipe cleats to the top, the shelf to the back and the light assembly to the upper back panel.

Use 30mm x 8g timber screws to secure the benchtop layers and the faces to the drawers.

Use 75mm x 10g timber screws to secure the supports to the lower back panels from behind and the lower and upper back panels to wall studs.

How to build the workbench

Mark up the supports

Mark up the supports
Make a trammel from an offcut with a 3mm hole at one end for a nail and a 6mm hole centred at 597mm for a pencil to mark three circles on the plywood then quarter them. Make a 200mm quarter-circle template from cardboard for the light supports.

Assemble the supports

Assemble the supports
Cut out the supports with a jigsaw, clamp in pairs and sand the edges. Use adhesive and nails to secure support blocks between pairs of supports. Secure the masonite faces by applying adhesive, clamping one end, bending it onto the curve and securing with nails.

Secure the supports

Secure the supports
In one support cut out a notch for the vice. Position the lower backs together, securing the supports with four screws through the back. Mark the wall studs, position the assembly on a temporary cleat and secure the lower back with three screws into each stud.

How to build the workbench

Build Workbench

Attach the benchtop
Position the first bench support perpendicular to the back using 19mm offcuts as spacers, secure and align the other supports using offcuts as spacers. Secure the benchtop base with screws. Apply adhesive then position the benchtop top, securing from beneath.

Build Workbench

Drill the bench dog holes
Make the jig and use nails to punch starter holes for the bench dogs then slide the jig along the benchtop to align its edge with the previous holes and repeat. Follow with a 19mm Forstner bit and drill guide to drill 25mm deep holes.

Build Workbench

Make the drawers
Use adhesive and nails to secure the front and back of the drawers between the sides, positioning the base inside to square up the assembly. Attach the drawer runners then use two screws to secure the faces from the inside then attach the handles.

Build Workbench

Install the dust extractor
Remove the spacers from behind the benchtop and slot the upper backs in position, securing to the studs. Mount the dust extractor then use a tablesaw to cut a 3mm deep groove along the lighting tops and backs for the diffuser plastic.

Build Workbench

Install the lighting
Secure the lighting tops to the backs then drill holes for the conduit in the supports. Secure the supports using nails then secure the assembly to the wall studs with screws. Drill level pairs of 5mm holes 10mm deep in the bench supports for the shelf pins.

Build Workbench

Install the shelves
Position shelf pins in the 5mm holes to support the shelves. For the sliding shelves secure aluminium angle to the bench supports (see Diagram) using 40mm x 8g screws. Cut the shelves to size then secure maple trim using adhesive and nails.

Ultimate DIY Workbench list
Ultimate DIY Workbench Materials

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