My Workbench - My Best Workshop Buddy

Outfeed workbench – under $150

I had hoped to keep this bench under $100 but I think maybe I’m just too frugal (spelled c-h-e-a-p)! The main portion of the cabinet is made from lab cabinets we picked up from UW surplus sales.

Across the top portion are three drawer sections which were originally 5”H x 24”W x 28”D. I cut 6” off the left end of each which had an electrical outlet wired to the left of the drawer.

The lower portion is made from three 5-drawer lab cabinets 28”D x 18”W x 29”H. The drawers were only about 18” deep and the back side of the cabinet was open. I did numerous modifications to make the bench more usable.

 cut off the toe kick
 removed the divider/dust shields between the four bottom drawers on each cabinet to make them into two taller drawers
 built a face frame on the back side of each cabinet and installed a shelf and door
 replaced drawer fronts

I then joined them in opposite directions to have drawers on either side of the cabinet. The top cabinets weren’t the exact dimensions of the lower cabinets after modifications so I extended two sides with oak.

DRAWERS
I used the smaller drawers to make the deeper drawers by cutting out the bottom in one, sanding top and bottom flat, then gluing them together. They aren’t great, but I didn’t need to spend extra money on them.

The original drawers were made using wooden bottom slides with plastic guides. I replaced the slides on the larger drawers with inexpensive bottom mount metal slides (which required modifying the drawer width at the bottom to accommodate the hardware). Since I had to make doors for the shelf openings and drawer fronts for the larger drawers, I replaced the other six drawer fronts as well.

TOP
The top is made out of 1-1/8” MDF. I glued and screwed wooden brackets to the underside while I had the MDF clamped with cauls, then screwed the brackets down between the drawers. Even though it was initially dead flat, it has not remained so.

I inquired of a friend who is a project manager for a large construction firm nearby if she knew where I might get a piece of affordable, less-than-perfect laminate for my workbench. She got me a perfect piece at no charge! You can’t beat that!

Since the drawers do not extend to the back of the cabinet, I was able to cut out an opening for my bench vise. I reinforced the edge of the top with about 1½” thick oak, before biscuiting and gluing on the birch trim.

One end of the birch trim has a T-track added to line up with another T-track below for clamping vertical pieces, (an economy end vise).

Across the underside of the bench I used two 2” x 3” pieces as stiffeners which have leg levelers inserted in them. The bench moves on 3” swiveling, locking casters. I have never used the leg levelers but if it gets moved where the floor is less even, I thought they might be helpful.

Here’s a breakdown of my expense:
 3 5-drawer lab cabinets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$60.00
 7” woodworker’s bench vise . . . . . . . . . . . . 36.91
 6 pr. 18” bottom-mount drawer glides . . . 16.02
 4 casters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.62
 2 section of T-track . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.11
 49”x97”x1-1/8” MDF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.00
 3 1-drawer, 1-duplex lab cabinets . . . . . . . 2.50
 2”x6”x8’ oak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.00
 6 door hinges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.58
 4 ¼” lag screws for mounting vise . . . . . . . . 0.96
 4 leg levelers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.60
 4 inserts for leg levelers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.20
 32” x 57” laminate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . N/C
 stain and varnish (left-overs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . N/C
 15 drawer/door handles . . . . . . . . . . . . . recycled
 oak for door and drawer fronts . . . . . . . recycled
 ¼” and ¾” plywood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . recycled
 2”x3” stiffeners on bottom . . . . . . . . . . . .recycled
 birch top edge trim . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .recycled
_
GRAND TOTAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$148.50

It should be pretty obvious from the prices that I never buy anything that isn’t on sale! It’s not fine furniture, but it has fulfilled its purpose very nicely.

DRAWBACKS
The benchtop is not dead flat and because it is MDF, I never put in any holes. Maybe, if I live long enough, I’ll replace the top with a butcher-block one and put the holes in.

It is excessively heavy and even on the casters, it takes all my strength (weakness) to move it just a few inches.

OVERALL, I have been very pleased with its usefulness.

L/W

Tags: workbench outfeed recycled

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12 Comments

jim webster ...

great job

Jay ...

I like frugal (cheap), you did a great job with your good finds.
Looks like a very handy work bench with plenty of storage.

Mike40 ...

Looks real handy and very nicely made.

kiefer ...

A practical and frugal repurposed piece turned into a nice bench and it will be your BUDDY for some time to come .
Enjoy !

Klaus

Jack ...

That is a nice bench, beautiful work.

RobsCastle ...

Congratulations “Lefty” you are the Workshop Best Buddy winner !! kiss kiss

BTW how is the Planner motoring?

lightweightladylefty ...

Robert,

The planer is working great! I just wish that were true of the sander. I’m beginning to feel more like a mechanic than a woodworker!

L/W

Jay ...

Congratulations Lady !!!
More money tools & equipment .

RobsCastle ...

So lets see the problem with the sander, you know what men are like ,……we/I/they like to love to fix everything!!

Mike40 ...

Congratulations on your win LWL. I hope you get your machine problems all ironed out. I’m not too good with mechanical things so I can empathize with your dislike of fussing with your machines. I usually bumble through my own machine problems with a satisfactory result, but I often think that my success is more due to luck than mechanical skills and it’s never fun.

lightweightladylefty ...

Good news! I got a little more figured out on the sander. It’s not the DC motor, but now I have to either replace the circuit board on the controller or buy a new controller, and the slowest part of all that is researching it on dial-up!

But more good news: when we went to get the motor tested today, they were burying cable on the main road less than a half mile away so, just maybe, we’ll have broadband before the year is out!

Thanks, guys, for all your encouraging remarks.

L/W