Saw Workbench Area Retrofit




About: We are a new 10,000 sq. ft. makerspace in Portland, OR at 7600 N. Interstate Ave with a wood shop, craft lab, hackerspace, tiny home, garden, and electronics lab for the community.

This is an Instructable on how to turn a crabby empty space in to a productive shop work area! This workbench will be a central part in the new makerspace in Portland, OR located at 7600 N. Interstate Ave for makers of all types to come and work on projects!

Here is a list of the materials, tools, and files required.

QTY Description

2 4' X 8' Plywood 3/4" Thick

8 4" X 4" Pressure Treated Wood

4 2" X 6" X 8' Wood

8 1/2" X 6" Lag Bolts

112 3.5" Wood Screws

16 Nuts for Lag Bolts

31 Washers for Lag Bolts

1 2" X 4" X 8' Wood

12 2" X 6" X 3'


QTY Description

1 Chop Saw

2 Cordless Drills

1 1/2" Wood Spade Bit

1 1/2" Drill bit

1 Chisel

1 Hammer

1 Level

1 Ratchet Socket Wrench

1 Orbital Sander


Step 1: Create the Table Top

First, cut 1 foot longways off the plywood to make it a workspace within arms length. Then, attach the 2" X 6" X 8' boards along the long edge of the plywood and secure it with 3.5" wood screws.

Second, cut the 2" X 6" X 3' pieces of wood in to six 33" pieces, flip the table over and screw the support ribs from the side with two 3.5" screws every 16".

If the wood is slightly warped at the corners, you can hammer a nail from the inside to make it flush, then screw in the screws from the side.

* It may help to screw one side of the ribs laying on the ground and screw the other side turning the table top on its side.

Step 2: Add Legs to the Table Top

First, cut the 4" X 4" to 42 inch long pieces as accurate as possible.

Second, Use the 1/2" Wood Spade drill to drill 2 holes on the center each side of the legs in a fashion that will allow the lag bolts on each side to miss each other. Measured from the top, one leg side will have a hole at 2 1/4" and 4 1/4" and the other leg side will have a hole at 1 1/2" and 3 1/2".

*** It is best to drill through the lag half-way, flip the leg over, and drill the other side half-way to complete the hole to ensure straightness.

Third, put the leg on to the inside corner of the table top, put washers on the lag bolts, and hammer the lag bolts through the holes to leave a mark on the wood.

Fourth, drill 1/2" holes where the marks in the wood are and if the spade drill can't fit, use a standard 1/2" drill bit.

Fifth, hammer the lag bolts through the holes, put a washer and nut on the other side, then tighten the bolt with a ratchet wrench. Repeat for each leg, then flip the table over

Step 3: Secure the Table Top

Finish the table top by screwing 3.5" screws along the sedge and screwing a two 1.5" screws on each rib evenly spaced. Sand the top and edges down with an orbital sander.

Step 4: Combine Tables With Saw in the Middle

Once two of these tables are created, put them side by side with enough space in between for a chop saw to rotate and move.

*** Each chop saw may have different height requirements.

First, cut two 2" X 4"s to span the legs between the two tables and cut a 1/4" notch in to each piece.

Second, cut pieces of wood to simulate the height of the chop saw.

Third, cut two 2" X 6" pieces to span these supports and lay the chop saw height pieces of wood on top to align the 2" X 4"s and screw them to the inside of the leg.

Fourth, space the 2" X 6" to fit the base of the chop saw, lay the chop saw on top, and add spacers or shims with a leveling guide to make the chop saw table flush with the two work benches on each side.

Fifth, secure the chop saw and supports with screws.

Add tool boxes, cordless drills, chargers, storage drawers, shelves, and other accessories to the work bench area as you see fit. The scrap can be used for shelving too.

Congratulations you did it!



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    30 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Where could I find the tool boxs underneath?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Looks very durable. One thing that I've done with bench tops is to attach a 1/8 or 1/4" MDF or hardboard surface on top of the plywood. This allows for easy replacement if there's some damage. Just some hot melt glue in a few positions is enough to keep it from wandering.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I used hardboard (we used to call it Masonite) and waxed the top with floor wax. Still going after ten years with lots of use.

    the normwaylonis

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I got a kitchen counter top from ReStore (a thrift store for building material, tools, etc) and use that as the top of my work table. The lip at the back prevents stuff falling behind the bench.
    If it ever wears out, I know where I can get another.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    wish we had a makers group near here (kentucky, ohio, west virginia)


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I like the way you overcame the area in work benches where I have seen many fail and that is you use substantial material in the construction. So many will try to get away with 2x4's and 1/2" plywood fastened with drywall screws.

    You did it up proud!

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I just bought several 2x4's and 1 sheet of 1/2" plywood lol ... Time to regroup and rethink everything before I start construction on anything.

    (We wont talk about the box of 2-1/2" drywall screws I picked up)

    In my defense, the last bench I made used 3/4" cabinet grade ply and the nice torx decking screws.

    but I am not a clever man. :)


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Good Idea. I have 16 feet of wall dedicated to my Radial Arm Saw, and it does not get used too much. The only issue here is that you are going to have to get in the habit of keeping those benches clean.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Nice work, I have been intending to add a new work bench to my workshop for a while.

    I have recently found a free source of plywood, though not the highest quality it is perfectly serviceable: There is a engineering works at a local industrial estate that has fairly large bits of kit delivered in plywood packing cases. The sizes range from one by two by half metre down to 60cm by 25cm by 10cm.

    I asked if I could have any and they were only too happy for someone to take them away, as the chap said the more that people take the less we have to pay to have taken away. I have used some to make workshop shelving and tool boxes, a couple of packing cases I painted with bitumen paint to waterproof then and made planters for growing herbs.


    4 years ago on Step 4

    Nice job. The only comment I would make is that if you use carriage bolts to attach the legs to the table sides, the button head it makes for a slightly smoother edge less likely to catch on clothing or work-pieces than the protruding hex heads. I have built some this way I think its a nice detail. Ususally they tighten up just fine, but if you have troubles you can grab the edges of the button head with vice grips to finish tightening the nuts down..

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    That's a good idea. The bolts didn't seem to spin while tightening the nuts because there was enough friction on the bolts. We had to hammer in the bolts just to give an idea of the fit.