Workbench Inspiration

The spaces that are used for DIY projects range from a garden shed or corner of the garage to a purpose-designed workshop.

But the one thing they all have in common is a dedicated surface for working on things, and that usually takes the form of a workbench.

We’ve put together a selection of bench ideas to suit any space, from a workshop masterpiece that takes up an entire wall, to a fold-up unit with a footprint of just 1200 x 300mm, plus a range of storage upgrade ideas.

The ultimate workbench

This DIY dream is made mostly of CD plywood with maple edging around the top. The curved supports are built using two pieces of 19mm plywood with masonite faces for a sleek finish.

One end of the benchtop features a cutout for mounting a vice and there is plenty of storage space provided by shelving and drawers underneath.

For easier cleanup, the bench features an integrated dust extraction system made from 32mm PVC pipe.

Have a qualified electrician hardwire powerpoints into the back of the workbench and install strip lighting, then cut diffuser plastic to size and flex it into position.

dust extractor, handyman magazine,
Connect the dust extraction system to power tools using a vacuum cleaner hose

workshop vacuum, handyman magazine,

Plug a workshop vac into the end and cap any T-junctions that aren’t in use

Easy-to-add upgrades

Even if you already have a workbench that you’re happy with, a bit of extra storage is always handy, and these simple ideas will help you clear away the DIY clutter in no time.

ADD BOX DRAWERS on castors under the benchtop, costing from $65 to build three, and make practical use of space that often goes wasted.

Measure from the floor to the base shelf of the workbench and subtract 85mm to get the box height.

Build the under-bench drawers about 100mm deep for storing fasteners and other small objects that are used frequently.

INSTALL A TRAY to keep small tools and measuring equipment close to hand but neatly organised.

It takes just half an hour to build and costs only $5, or nothing at all if you have a few offcuts of 90 x 19mm pine lying around.

ATTACH A HANGING BOARD on the side for bench-mounted tools that are secured to platforms.

Use a double layer of 18mm thick plywood with M10 x 60mm cuphead bolts secured through it.

Make 10mm deep recesses for the bolt head and nut so the platforms can hang flush.

workbench with drawers, handyman magazine,
Keep less frequently used power tools in roll-out drawers at floor level

mount a vice to a workbench, handyman magazine,

Mount a vice on a base to hang at the side of the bench when not in use

Bench-mounted tool platforms

Make bench-mounted tools such as a vice or grinder portable without compromising their stability by attaching them to a double layer of 500 x 300 x 18mm plywood.

Drill clearance holes for cuphead bolts to mount each tool on its platform, using a spade bit to drill 25mm holes to 10mm deep so the bolt heads can be recessed and the base positioned flush.

Drill 10mm holes to hang the platforms on the bolts secured through the hanging board.

Hold each platform firmly to the workbench with G-clamps when in use.

Knockdown table

Assemble this work table in two minutes and knock it apart just as fast to store it flat against a wall.

The 1200mm square top and two 1200 x 900mm base pieces are cut from 19mm plywood and have 20mm wide notches that lock together.

Support blocks keep the tabletop stable on the base and a 100 x 25mm foot on each corner improves stability on an uneven floor.

knockdown table, handyman magazine,
Assemble this work table in two minutes and knock it apart just as fast to store it flat against a wall

knockdown table workbench, handyman magazine,
Make this flatpack table to use as a workbench wherever you need one

Multifunction workbench

Built from pine and plywood, this bench has a footprint of just over 1500 x 600mm, but can be unfolded into a full-size work table with a 2400 x 1200mm assembly area.

The key to this design’s versatility is the modified shelf brackets, which are welded or riveted into a configuration that lets them slot into the steel tracks both horizontally and vertically.

multiform bench, handyman magazine,
The bench features adjustable shelves mounted on metal tracks

Wall-mounted cabinet table

When open, this 1200 x 900mm table provides a sturdy work surface supported on two front legs.

When closed, it tucks into the wall-mounted cabinet and the legs fold up into the sides.

Inside the cabinet, a double-sided pegboard for hand tool storage is hinged so it can swing out, while the shelves provide space for power tools and other larger items.

To set it up, pull out the legs, securing them with four steel braces and threaded knobs, then release the bolt latch and lower the table.

wall-mounted cabinet table, handyman magazine,
When open, this 1200 x 900mm table provides a sturdy work surface supported on two front legs

table closed, handyman magazine,

The table tucks into the cabinet with the legs folded up into the sides