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!
Nice build Jay. Looks like it will serve you for years to come
Looks good Jay. It will serve you for years to come
This is awesome! I’ve seen this design before and was unsure of it. You’ve got me thinking of building this one instead of a Roubo workbench. You could definitely incorporate t-tracks the same way that Drew Short did with his assembly table. It would probably be cheaper and easier than installing bench vises and dog holes.
Did you purchase Ron’s plans or work from pictures?
I purchased the plans.
What is the purpose of the split down the middle?
Ron designed this as a finish carpenter to move the pieces easily as a portable shop so he can put in in his trailer for each job. The split also helps with center support in a four foot by eight foot area which also makes it easy to take apart and move.
The split top is from the Roubo design.. The split top accommodates a long bench dog to clamp a work piece into place. It should have at least two positions in height depending on the design, with flush being one. The split also allows clamping from the middle of the workbench with simple bar or pipe clamps.
Nice Jay. Love those speeded up videos, if only we could work that fast productivity would be superb. Thanks for sharing. Oh by the way are you going to do a video on your new table saw? If you have done one I must of missed it. Heard about these fail safe saws that stop when contacting fleshy bits, fascinating how it determines flesh from wood??
I noticed you have blacked out all of your tools. Just curious as to why. Have the manufactures asked you to do so, sick of fielding questions, etc?
I am curious as to why you painted all your tools black as well.
There seems to be a misconception that I am sponsored by Ryobi. I’m not sponsored by them and they didn’t send me free tools. I get asked questions specifically about Ryobi on a daily basis. I don’t mind sharing advice but I’m not a tool salesman and I don’t work for Ryobi.
Never thought you did. Kinda like the Makita drills….they didn’t sponsor me either. go figure
Yet another project that I’m storing away for my shop build.
17 days and counting and the shop area will be mine!
Hog those holes out… Like a Sasquatch!
He totally needs to make that a tshirt.
Nice build Jay. You might want to consider putting in the clamping holes on hale of you bench. They come in hand
I understand why you painted your tools black. If anyone wants to know, check out Jimmy Diresta’s website and YouTube channel for his explanation.
Thanks for sharing this video Jay. I will be building an assembly/outfeed table in the coming week, and this is an inspiration. Those slots you cut out would be very helpful when gluing stuff down and clamping them. I shared a picture a while back of my clamp storage unit, and I couldn’t live without it. It is nothing more than a miniature shelf unit on a french cleat that allows the long clamps to be secured on a bottom rail, smaller ones on a middle rail, and a small shelf on top for storing glue, etc. Keep up the great work. And please, do share the info about that new saw :) Dave
LOL at spray painting your drills black. I know why you did it. But it’s still funny.
Another really cool project. Iike the design and storage ability. Thanks again.
Did you consider making a pull out shelf like you did before to get better access to CNC machine?
This is why I prefer watching your videos on your website. I missed “Like a Sasquatch” and “Metal Tenons” during the video. Too funny. You said you were re-thinking the gap in the middle, what was the reasoning behind the suggestion, other than dropping things in it, I can’t come up with a use.
Are you going to pull out the CNC to use it, or just run it as-is under the table?
If its for video I’ll pull it out and use it. Just for whatever and I’ll leave it down there.
Love the table, Jay. I have a similar one in the works right now, just a bit smaller (4′ x 4′) similar to the one Mike Merzke on Wood shop Confessions has. One thing I haven’t decided on yet is using t-tracks or dog holes. But with this design, you could have holes on one side, and t-track on the other…just flip the top over!
Great build, and thanks for the video.
That’s a great idea Marc. I never though of that.
Love your vids Jay. Flipping the table for holes or tracks seem like a lot of work. What about holes on the right side and tracks on the left side? Just throwing it out there. really enjoy your blog, thanks again.
Hey Jay, I just had the privilege of having Ron Paulk visit my school, Seattle Central College, Wood technology Center. Ron Spoke for at least an hour, and set up his workbench for us to check out. He was kind enough to give out 100 large print workbench plans for free. We then got to go outside in the Seattle rain and take a tour of his mobile trailer workshop.
The fastest bench build I ever saw !…lol
That is a nice large space to work off of.
It’ll be interesting to see how it works out for you in the long run.
Just wondering if there was a specific reason you had the actual top of the workbench overhang the base?
Thanks for the info jay, and nice built. By the way. After watching some of your videos. It’s cost me about $3k for all the tools lol. But I know it’s worth it. Something new for me. Beside clubbing and party all the time. Just a quick question. What is the demensions of the work bench ?
4′ x 8′. Definitely more rewarding than clubbing. :)
Hi Jay. I wanted to say thanks for all the awesome videos. Not only is the subject matter and execution amazing, but the quality of the video editing is top-notch as well.
Question for you…how do you feel about mdf? I’ve been using it a lot [vs. plywood] mostly because that’s how my dad always did things (indoor applications only, of course).
Keep up the great work!
fan/follower from instructables.com
It has it’s uses. It’s perfect for painted projects. Stay away from water and I, generally speaking, don’t see any problems with using it in projects. Wear a respirator when cutting it though. That dust is nasty!
Any plans of your design?
No. It was based off of someone else’s design. Check out Ron Paulk on YouTube.
I should have explained the question better. Do you have any plans for the mobile base. I bought Ron Paulk’s plans. Your base seemed simple enough.
Awesome project — I’m in the middle of it in my shop now. How do you deal with lumber generally being out of square? I picked the best 2x4s I could find, but everything is still pretty wobbly.
I normally use them as is, skip plane them with my planer, or make multiple cuts at the table saw on alternating sides to get them close.
Can you give a simple plan for your moveable base? Im sure it could be modified for any top build
This just gave me a great idea for storage in my 7 1/2′ wide snow mobile cargo trailer that I use to haul all of my ultra lite flying equipment. All I will need to do is figure out how to go about making some portable stands to set the boxes on once I get them all made up. I will let you know how it all goes as soon as I plan it all up and get it going. Jay, again thank you for all you do to help us all out, George.
How did you go about drilling the top 3/4″ holes?
How did you attach the tops to the 2×4 frame on the bottom?
Sorry I wasn’t specific, were you able to drive them from the top through the 3/4″ holes or no? I had to alter the size to 36″ X 70″ with the holes 4″ apart. Ill have to drive them at an angle, I was just wondering what you did.
I drove them through the holes on top with a couple extensions at an angle. However, you could just drill a 5/16″ hole close to the edge just large enough to get a bit extension through and secure it as needed that way.
Thanks for getting back to me, I appreciate it. I am a cnc programmer and it’s very slow right now with oil prices the way they are and after watching your videos and hearing your story over the years you’ve inspired me to seek custom wood working projects as an extra income. Thanks for your videos and inspiring us all. Keep it up!
you use 2x4s because its cheap, but what kind of wood are they?
Depends on your location. The ones I get are generally labeled SPF which means it’s either Spruce, Pine, or Fir.
Thanks for the answer. Here (in Germany) Spruce and Pine are as well the cheapest type of wood.
I have seen several videos of similar style workbenches. The bases have been modified to suit the user’s needs but the box seems to be the same except for the height and the opening sizes. What is the height of your box and opening dimensions? If you had to build the top again, would you change any of those dimensions? Thanks.
The height is 1/2″ lower than my table saw height. I believe 33-1/2″. All other dimensions for the top were taken from the plans.
Just watched all 13 of Ron’s 6 min vids on his 2.0 version of this table, and was impressed with the router table insert etc..and then your 6 min complete version .. love the in shop bench version more than the portaversion. I have truly enjoyed all of your videos and the working mans approach you take to your builds… I have a tonne of expensive tools.. nothing like Ron’s Feshop ..but still good grouping for the guy next door, and you make you believe I can actually do some of the stuff I want with them… be a better ” Indian” I suppose.
Thanks for that!!
Great modified Paulk table! Any reason why your top is flush on one side of the base but you seem to have about a 12″ or so overhang on the opposite side( the one with your power strip)?
How is the stability of this bench on casters? Trying to decide on whether to put my bench on casters or not.
Thanks for the post Jay! I’ve been wanting to build something like this for a while now and I’m settling on a design that’ll fit my work space. I’m wondering what size base you went with. It looks like it was 70″ x something. I like how it was flush on one side and has overhang on the other three. Can you solve the mystery?
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