Tom's Torsion Box Workbench Manchester CT
West Hartford, CT
Tom's Torsion Box Workbench
Tom's Torsion Box Workbench
Build a master's bench from plain old 2X4's and plywood.
by Tom Caspar
This rock-solid workhorse is simply four easy-to-build 2x4-and-plywood boxes.
Quick, cheap, solid. You can’t ask much more from a workbench, and this one delivers it all. Made of out nothing more than ordinary construction lumber, this durable, 250-lb. heavyweight has all the features of a master cabinetmaker’s bench: a gigantic face vise, a slick tail vise and a rock-solid base.
You’ll spend a measly $150 at a home center on lumber and hardware. Add $70 to $150 for a face vise (see Sources, below). We used a cool-looking, top-notch model, but any big vise will do.
The Best $250 Workbench
Rugged boxes made of nothing but 2x4s and plywood add up to a high-performance bench that costs peanuts to build.
Ingenious Tall Vise
Hold any project with no awkward clamps to get in the way.
You Don't Have to Be an Expert
Got a hammer, drill and circular saw? That’s virtually all it takes to build this awesome workbench.
Tools and Materials
If you have limited tools, don’t worry. It’s perfectly possible to build this bench using nothing but a pair of sawhorses, a circular saw, hammer, drill, combination drill bit, router and flush-trim bit, hacksaw and socket set. That’s it. A few more power tools (a miter saw, drill press, tablesaw and belt sander) make the job a lot easier, though.
The materials are nothing special, just 2x4s, 2x6s and two sheets of ordinary underlayment plywood (the kind with 1/8-in.-thick face veneer). Be picky when choosing your solid lumber. Look for boards that are straight, free of large knots and have full-width edges. Reserve your straightest boards for the top frame.
Preparing the Plywood
Start by cutting out the plywood panels. Factory edges are good enough, so you don’t have many cuts to make. The few corners that have to be absolutely square are already done!
1. Draw the outlines of all the plywood panels (A1, B1, C1 and C2) on two sheets of plywood (see Fig. C, page 41 and the Cutting List, below).
2. Build a temporary cutting guide to fit your circular saw (Photo 1). It’s easy to make by nailing together two overlapping 1x6s cut just over 6 ft. long (you’ll use these boards later as parts of the bench). The edge of the bottom board shows you exactly where the saw will cut, so you don’t have to do any complicated measuring. The top board guides the saw. Nail some extra pieces of 1x6 under the overhang of the top board for balance.
3. Place the cutting guide directly on the lines and cut all the panels.
4. Mark the screw holes (see Fig. D, page 41) on one side of an end panel (A1) and a center-section panel (B1).