When I built my last workbench, assembly table, oufeed table combo I was in a shop about half the size of the shop I am in today. I made it to fit that space and with materials I had on hand. Since moving to a larger shop I’ve often wanted a larger work surface but put it off until I had most of my other tools organized. Finally I got around to making a new work bench.
My original intention was to design something of my own but I’ve been drawn to Ron Paulk’s workbench for quite some time now. The idea behind his design is to make a lightweight, break down workbench that contractors can take with them from jobsite to jobsite to work efficiently. I really like the work surface of Ron’s design but I don’t need mine to be portable in the sense that it will leave my shop. I do need it to roll around though. So I bought his plans and decided to make a semi-mobile version of the Paulk Workbench to use as my workbench, assembly table, and outfeed table.
Preparing The Lumber
The base I came up with is just a simple construction grade lumber workbench frame. Nothing fancy. 2×4’s for the frames.
Having a dedicated stop block system in a miter saw station makes cutting repeatable sizes much quicker and more accurate. I say it every time I mention it but my miter saw station is something I should have made when I first set up my shop. It’s an absolute pleasure to use.
For the legs I used 2×6’s. Most construction grade lumber workbenches use 2×4’s in an L configuration for the legs but I knew I was going to store my CNC machine below so making the front opening as large as possible was ideal.
Assembling The Base
The base would consist of an upper and lower frame. These frames are just butt joined together with 2-1/2” wood screws. I didn’t use glue on any of the dimensional lumber. The main thing to make sure of here is that the frames are square and that there aren’t any major bows that will affect the top boxes later.
The legs are screwed directly to the corners of the frames. To help prevent any racking from lateral movement I rotated the front legs 90 degrees from the back legs. This will also result in less obstruction to the lower shelf area when accessed from the front. The leg I am securing in this picture is on the side I will be calling the front.
Clamps are better at holding stuff than I am so to make installing the second frame easier I clamped a scrap piece of wood to each of the legs to hold the second frame in place. I screwed together a couple pieces of scrap 2×4 to act as a jig to give me the exact spacing from the end of the leg for the clamped piece.
Then the second frame could be added to the assembly and easily secured with five screws through each leg. The clamped blocks from the last step made this process super easy. Taking 5-10 minutes to rig up a simple jig is faster than the 15-20 minutes you would spend fighting to complete the task without it.
Making It Mobile
For the casters I used 3” locking swivel casters. These are each rated at 300lbs. Before installing them I drenched the bearings in a Teflon dust resistant lubricant. The completed workbench moves around very easily.
Cutting The Sheet Goods
Ron’s plans call for 1/2” pine plywood for the top boxes and pocket holes for the assembly. I hate using pocket holes in 1/2” materials so I went with 3/4” PureBond hardwood plywood. It’s formaldehyde free and made in the USA which are both things I really like. And also I wasn’t sure if I was going to add a T-track some time in the future so using hardwood ply will be beneficial in the event that I need to route a groove for the track. First the top and bottom panels were cut.
Then all of the interior dividers were cut to the final width.
Followed by cutting them to length. This was a good test of the cutting capacity of my miter saw station and the stop block setup. I was able to stack five pieces of 3/4” plywood and still use the stop block to make an accurate cut.
Reduce Weight And Gain Storage
To gain access to the inside of the torsion box area a lot of large slots are cut into the vertical pieces. I used another quick jig and a can of wax to make a perfect shape to cut out.
To cut the template I used a drill to make a pilot hole for my jigsaw. I honestly wasn’t as accurate as I wanted to be with this template. It ended up being a little sloppy in a couple ares so some finessing was needed with a file.
I wasn’t setup to properly make all of these slots with a router. The preferred method would be to use a guide bushing on your router base and a spiral upcut bit to take multiple passes and make nice clean cuts. All I had was a straight cutting pattern bit with a bearing so I had to hog out the entire cut with one pass. My router was screaming and I’m sure it was a lot of abuse but in the end the cuts were made. I’ll be more prepared next time.
I used a round over bit in my laminate router to soften up all of the edges of the slots.
Assemble The Top
The top was broken up into two 2′ x 8′ boxes. Each box has two long side pieces secured with pocket hole screws, and five perpendicular pieces secured with pocket hole screws. What you see in the following picture is pretty much all that was secured with pocket hole screws. I predrilled and added regular 1-1/4” screws to the rest of the assembly.
When working on a project with a lot of pocket holes I find it much faster to install all of the screws first before driving any in place. Yes, pocket hole screws are not “metal tenons” but I threw that in the video as a joke.
As I said, the bottoms and interior sides were secured with 1-1/4” screws. I laid out reference lines as to where the plywood dividers were below so this process went by pretty quick.
A few people on my Facebook page suggested to try out a split top orientation so I secured the tops with 1-1/2” or so of space between them. I also didn’t drill any holes in the top as I’m not sure if I want the holes or a track setup.
To make the bottom area more usable a plywood shelf is needed. I used 1/2″ plywood for the lower shelf. Testing out the table as an outfeed table worked as expected.
The lower plywood panel was slid into place and secured with just a couple 1-1/4” screws. This area is just storage so going crazy with screws isn’t necessary.
To finish it off I added an electrical strip to the front of the base. The cord was ran below the top boxes and out the split top area on the side opposite the camera. I also put my CNC machine down below and secured my battery charger to one of the right legs.
I hope you were able to get some ideas out of this build and if you are interested in something similar I suggest you check out Ron Paulk’s workbench. It’s a great design that has been successful for a lot of people who have used it. Thanks for stopping by folks and have a great day!