Last week I shared the amazing inspiring incredible genius workbench that my carpenter dad designed for me, and we heard in his own words how he went about dreaming up the design to fit all the idiosyncracies of my space. He’s so great.
This week I’m back to explain the assembly process, since if anyone is following along to actually build a workbench they probably want to know how to, like, put this thing together. Fortunately it’s super easy given the modular design my dad created. And next week I’ll be sharing some final updates in the space — painting and staining the workbench, and organizing the whole area to be a functional workshop for me. I’m so excited to share!
But first, back to where we left off. My dad had just loaded the pieces into his truck to bring down to me in Boston. We tackled the assembly over the course of a morning — it took us just a few hours, and it was a ton of fun to work with my dad on this because he’s so talented and experienced. Naomi and I had a total blast working on our tables together (her console table and my coffee table), but that was two amateurs tackling some new challenges together and just trying to keep from destroying everything. My dad really knows his stuff, and it was a great learning experience for me.
Once we had everything laid out, the first step was to attach the legs to the bench top. My dad had brought sawhorses, so we laid the benchtop across those.
The legs were designed to fit four in each corner and two in the center along the middle cross-support of the frame (so every leg was bounded by a piece of the frame on two sides). To attach the first leg, we set it in the front middle section and used corner squares clamped to the leg to make sure it didn’t twist out of square alignment while we drove the screws in.
Each leg got three screws put in from each of the two sides of the frame that it abutted. We used the magical star-slotted screws that I raved about in the last post, and the wood was soft enough that we just drove them in without drilling any pilot holes.
In short order we had all three front legs attached.
Next we needed to attach the back legs. As you may recall, my dad carefully designed the bench so that the back legs would be inset by about 3″ to accommodate the radiator that runs along the back of the wall. That way the benchtop is still flush with the wall, and the legs are flush with the radiator. To make that work, he’d created little wood blocks that were the thickness we needed to inset by, and we screwed these to the back top of each back leg.
Then when we went to attach the back legs to the frame, each one was inset the right distance.
Just one of the many genius design elements.
With all the legs attached, it was time to flip it over. It’s very big and heavy, but we were able to pivot it off the sawhorses into a standing position.
Next we were ready to attach the rectangular frames that would form the foundation for the under-bench shelves. My dad pre-drilled screws into the frames so they were ready to go:
And then we put them in place, resting on height sizers he had made in advance to make sure the frame rested exactly 9-1/2″ from the ground.
Then all we had to do was drive the screws in, attaching the frames to the legs.
With the frames in place, we could lay down the shelves. Remember, he had cut these with notches so that they could fit between the legs and created a continuous surface.
We secured each shelf with a few screws.
Before finishing the bench by adding the tool rack, we had to take a pause to finish preparing the space. See, our basement has these terrible built-in hanging shelves, which you may have noticed in some of the earlier photos:
The frames are nailed right into the rafters, and we spent a good 30 minutes bashing and prying with a hammer to get them all taken down.
Then we formed a really nice pile of wood and nails in our yard. The neighbors love us! But at least we were left with a nice clean (yellow) wall!
With that done, it was finally time to add the tool rack. First, we used the 98″ 1×8 and 1×6 he’d brought to create a shelf along the top of the tool rack. We laid the whole tool rack face down on the bench, and screwed the 1×8 flat along the top to create a shelf. Here I am pre-drilling the screws so that we can easily drive them in when we move the shelf into place:
Then we attached the 1×6 perpendicular to that to create a back to the shelf so nothing would slide off the back.
Finally, we were ready to attach the tool rack to the body of the bench. He had designed it so that it rested on the benchtop with the plywood backing extending down 6″ so it could be screwed to the back of the bench. So first we flipped it up, resting it on the bench.
It was pretty sturdy even without the screws, so we felt good about the structural soundness. The plywood was pretty hard, so we did drill pilot holes for this part. My dad moved down the back of the bench drilling pilot holes every 6″ or so in a zigzag up-down pattern, and I followed along drilling in screws.
And that was it! We enlisted the help of some strong men (Sam and my brother, Ian) to move it flush against the wall, and it was done! We stepped back to thoughtfully admire our handwork.
And then obviously I made my dad pose for photos. I HAVE A VERY PRESTIGIOUS BLOG, DAD.
This thing is so awesome, and I can’t wait to show you the finished result with a little paint and stain!