Saturday started off with a fun game: see what random things around our garage we could find to stack to the right height to hold up our old cabinet from above our kitchen peninsula. After about 10 tries we finally found a combo of items that worked to prop the cabinet up on to get it about 18 inches taller than where the top of our workbench would be, since it was way too heavy for either of us to hold it by ourselves while the other one attached it to the wall.
But once we got it into place and level, it wasn't too much work to find four studs to attach the cabinet to. It is already looking better after I painted it last week, but we still have to put the cabinet doors on it. It was much easier to mount it with the doors off though!
Then came the more fun part, building our workbenches for either side of the door to the house. We started by building a frame for the top of the bench that will be on the right of the door, since it would be the simpler of the two designs. Just some 2x4s and some heavy duty 2.5 inch exterior screws, and some clamps to help hold things square got the job done.
To support the top work surface, we attached support pieces inside the frame. The support piece was clamped with a scrap of our work surface 3/4 inch plywood, with another scrap piece spanning the top of the frame, to get the support pieces at the correct height. At the ends we made sure to leave space for the workbench legs, which you can see we did below with scrap 2x4s acting as placeholders.
Here's most of our support pieces in place on the frame (we just used stacked 2x4s to prop the frame up on, since we didn't yet have a workbench to actually build on). Although we did end up going back and adding a couple of more support pieces than this, just to make things super strong.
Then we cut our 3/4 inch plywood to size, dropped it into our frame, and gently flipped it over so we could screw it to our support pieces with 2 inch screws.
Flipped back over, and we had our workbench top, with the rough edges of the plywood neatly hidden from sight by the 2x4 frame.
The legs were a pain, as we had expected. Our garage floor isn't perfectly level, it was sloped by about a half inch, so we had to do some triple and quadruple measuring and holding things up before attaching them, just to make sure the end result would be a level workbench.
Since my husband is in all of the pictures it looks like he was doing all of the work, but I swear I was there helping every step of the way, clamping things, handing over screws, bracing the wood while it was screwed, etc!
By Saturday night we had gotten the legs leveled and attached to the workbench top, attached the horizontal support pieces for the legs, I'd sanded everything with my little orbital sander, and we screwed it into the studs to mount it securely to the wall.
Sunday morning started off with putting the final two pieces on the right side workbench, the center leg and it's support piece to tie it in to the back rail support. We waited until the end to attach this last leg, just because the more legs you're working with at once to get level, the harder it is. This way we could just cut the center leg to the correct length to begin with, and not play the guessing game if it would still be level once we secured everything to the wall.
By mid day Sunday we had repeated the same workbench design for the left side workbench, with this side the same length as the cabinet above it. Here it is all ready for me to sand it (since sanding with the orbital sander while it was up against the wall would mean I couldn't get into the corners without tearing up the wall).
For the right side bench we left things open under it, to allow space for some rolling drawer units and our old bar stools from our breakfast nook that we've since replaced with pretty new stools. But on the left side we wanted to incorporate a storage shelf the length of the workbench. So we copied the frame and support design of the top work surface halfway up the legs. Here too we didn't attach the center leg until the end, we just propped it up to act as a placeholder.
For the 3/4 inch plywood for the shelf top, we opted to do it in two pieces, just to make it easier to drop the wood into the shelf frame, since we also had to cut out little notches in the sides to accommodate the legs. The jig saw made cutting out the notches easy though, and the two pieces of the shelf dropped right into place, after we attached the bench to the wall studs. And with that, we could then attach the front leg at the correct height and the second workbench was done.
These weren't hard to build at all, just time consuming because there was a lot of cuts and screwing. We used 17 eight foot 2x4s and 1 1/2 sheets of 4x8 3/4 inch plywood, and I'd definitely say it was a two person job, with all of the flipping of the heavy workbenches, and just having someone to brace the frame while the other was screwing made things go a lot quicker than it would have otherwise.
But the staining and painting part, that was all my job alone, since I'm the painter in our family. It took me three weeknights to get through one coat of primer and two of semi gloss white on the legs two coats of Kona wood stain on the horizontal surfaces.
I still need to coat it all with polyurethane after it completely dries, but I can't wait to see how this wall looks once we get the cabinet doors on, the white pegboard and slatwall up, and our rolling drawer units in place. The dark wood tops are going to look great with the oil rubbed bronze hardware and light fixtures I've got planned.
Here's a closer look at the almost-dry stained workbench.
Other than just doing with a dark stain to tie into the ORB details, I wanted a dark stain on the plywood, since stained plywood still looks like...plywood. There's no mistaking the tiger stripe pattern of even higher grade plywood, but at least it's a little less noticeable unless you're staring right down on it in direct light.
Still, considering that this is a garage and after all, it doesn't have to be pretty (which my husband keeps trying to unsuccessfully remind me), I'm loving it so far. I can't wait to build some more things this weekend, and start seeing things come together over the next couple of weeks!
Has anyone else built a workbench before? Or tried your hand at staining plywood?