One evening a friend of my daughter's was talking about some workbench plans he had percolating in his head. He asked if I could get him a few pieces of scrap wood from work. However, as we discussed his ideas for how to build a workbench, I realized that this would be a great project to develop for Totally Free Woodworking Plans.
His idea was to build a workbench that actually doubled as a giant toolbox. The storage tray beneath the top, the hinged door, and the a-frame style legs were his idea. I refined the dimensions a bit and added the peg holes for hanging tools. What you see here are children's workbench plans that came straight from the mind of a kid!
The funny part about this being a children's workbench is that it would really work great as an adult's workbench too. The 32" height is too short for my comfort, but increasing the height would be a pretty simple matter. I'm 6 feet tall but someone shorter may find it comfortable to work at a 32" high workbench. So don't be scared away from building it just because it was designed with kids in mind.
Since the whole discussion of these workbench plans began as a request for scrap wood, my first inclination was to build it out of 3/4" melamine. By now you probably know how much I love the stuff, but the real motivation was the fact that we have tons of scrap 3/4" melamine at work. The problem with using melamine started to become apparent when I discovered that my son and the inventor's little brother also wanted to build the same workbench.
As I imagined three rough eight to ten-year-old boys pounding on their new workbenches, I realized that particle board simply wouldn't hold up. A couple of good smacks with a hammer and the corners of the workbench would be a mess. So 3/4" plywood was my choice due it's durability. Any shop grade of plywood will work fine, or even AC plywood sheathing. I happened to find four leftover sheets of plywood that had been faced with plastic laminate, so the boys' workbenches turned out pretty fancy when all was said and done.
There are a couple of simple pieces of hardware you will need to complete the workbench. The workbench plans show a piano (or continous) hinge for the door. This is my preference for durability, but a piano hinge is about three times the price of a pair of simple butt hinges. At the last minute (meaning the checkout line at the hardware store), I changed to butt hinges and they worked great. We used only two per door, but three would hold up better.
The other thing you'll need is some sort of catch at the top of the door. We used a heavy duty magnetic touch-latch that only cost a couple of dollars. Another alternative would be to use a magnetic or roller catch with some sort of handle to pull the door open.
The only really complex pieces to cut are the legs. Once you lay out the lines for the angles, they can be cut with a circular saw, a jigsaw, or a table saw with an angle jig. I sort of cheated and cut all the parts on a CNC router at work. Which brings up a good point about all the holes that need to be drilled (I think there are about seven thousand of them).
The 1/4" holes aren't completely necessary. I had a bunch of 1/4" dowel laying around and thought it would be cool to make a sort of peg board to hang tools on the outside of the workbench. The workbench plans show the peg holes on the outside of the bench, but a couple of the boys turned the back around so they could hang their tools on the inside of the tool storage tray.
I used a CNC machine to drill all the holes, but I'm not too sure I would have drilled them all if I had to do it by hand. So drill as many as you think you'll need, or don't drill any at all. They really are just an option.
The 3/16" thru holes aren't really optional. Those are there for assembly with 1-5/8" wood screws. If you lay them out according to the drawings you'll have a much easier time lining things up. So I encourage you to drill them, even if you opt not to drill the peg holes.
Start by attaching the front and the back to the bottom using glue and 1-5/8" wood screws. Next, using the section view in the workbench plans as a guide, mark the locations of the back, bottom, and front on the inside of both legs. Attach the legs to the back/front/bottom assembly using glue and screws.
Hinging the door is easiest if done while the top is off. Attach the hinges to the door first, then fasten the hinged door to the front. For mounting hinges I suggest that you use a Vix Bit. For those who aren't familiar with Vix Bits, they are self-centering drill bits. The ingenious little tool makes drilling perfectly centered holes an absolute breeze.
Mounting the top is pretty straightforward. Just make sure it overhangs the legs evenly all around. Depending on what method you use for holding the door shut, you may want to attach the catch to the underside of the top before attaching the top to the legs. That's what we did and it eliminated the need to crawl inside the tool compartment upside down to install catch hardware.
With a bit of help from us dads, the boys did almost all of the assembly themselves. So whether you build one of these workbenches for your kids, with your kids, or even for yourself, be sure to check out the plans. Just click here. If you'd like to download a copy to your computer, right click then "save-as". Either way, you'll need the Adobe reader to view the file.