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INNOVATIVE FEATURES such as a lever-operated mobile base and dual-height pullout tool platforms give this bench a five-star rating, especially if you have to share space with cars and other vehicles in a garage shop.

The mobile base works just like a floor jack, so you can easily move the bench from against the wall to the middle of the shop. The tool platforms allow you to pull out stored bench-top machines and raise them to operating position in seconds, flush with the top of the bench.

The benchtop houses a power strip, so you don’t have to fish for extension cords to plug in portable power tools. The top is long enough to mount a vise at one end and a router plate at the other.

Simple construction methods make this bench do-able for most woodworkers. You’ll need four sheets of plywood, a hollow core door and some hardware. You can get all of these materials at any home center.

The bench’s modular design is easy to modify to fit your space or tools. Shorten the top, for example, or install drawers or shelves one side of the cabinet or forgo the tool platforms entirely and just build the bench. Whether you build the Cadillac version shown here or an economy model, this bench will enhance your woodworking.

Start with the top

Photo 1. Create a sturdy, flat benchtop by fastening plywood sheets on both sides of a hollow core door. A fill block extends the top’s overall length to 80″

The bench top consists of a 30″ hollow core door sandwiched between sheets of plywood (A–C, Fig. A, Photo 1). This construction is both flat and sturdy. A 4″ wide core spacer (D) makes the bench top long enough to mount a router at the end. Cut the 3/4″ plywood top and 1/2″ bottom wider than the door to create a groove at the front for mounting a power strip. Apply glue to one side of the door. Then lay it on the 1/2″ plywood, flush at one end and at the back edge. Tack the door to the plywood by driving four 1-1/2″ screws through the solid wood near the door’s corners. Attach the core spacer similarly.

Apply glue to the door and spacer. Place the 3/4″ plywood on top and clamp it so you can flip over the assembly. Then fasten the plywood to both sides of the door by driving 2-1/2″ screws all around the perimeter and through the center. These long screws may poke slightly through the 3/4″ plywood, so it’s a good idea to remove them after the glue dries. Glue on the vise fill strip (E) if you plan to add a vise.

Build the cabinet

Photo 2. Assemble the cabinet’s frames by stacking and gluing plywood stiles, rails and fill blocks. Use a 90° assembly jig to keep the frame square.

The cabinet consists of three stacked plywood frames (Fig. B) that are connected by stretchers and a back to create two 24″ wide x 24″ deep openings. Cut the frames’ stiles, rails and fill blocks (F, G, H) to final width and length—use a stop block so the lengths of similar pieces are identical. The frames must be square, so construct a squaring jig to assemble them (Photo 2). The jig is just a piece of sheet stock that has one square corner, with fences attached on both sides.

Photo 3. Install the lever in the middle frame after attaching the lever stiles. The lever raises the bench onto its casters by means of a cable and pulleys.

The middle frame includes two additional stiles (J). They house the lever (K) that operates the bench’s mobile base. For accuracy, clamp these stiles together and use a drill press to drill the 3/8″ hole that’s used to mount the lever. Install a 3/8″ x 3″ bolt to keep these the holes aligned when you fasten the middle stiles to the center frame. Cut the 1/2″ plywood lever to final dimensions (Fig. C) and drill the two 3/8″ dia. holes. Use one hole to bolt the lever between the middle rails (Photo 3). Install a 3/8″ OD x 1/4″ ID x 3/4″ long steel bushing in the other hole.  This bushing will keep the mobile base’s cable from wearing the wooden lever.

Photo 4. Prepare each pulley for mounting by driving an axle through its bearing. Make sure the bearing’s inner race is supported on both sides by the vise.

On both sides of the lever, the cable passes through pulleys mounted in maple blocks (L) that are bolted on the center frame’s bottom rail (Fig D). The pulleys are steel screen door repair wheels with 5/32″ x 1-1/2″ roll pins driven through them to act as axles (Photo 4). These repair wheels and roll pins are available at most hardware stores. The roll pin must be carefully hammered through the pulley to prevent damage to its built-in bearing.

Photo 5. Bolt the pulley block assemblies on both sides of the middle frame’s bottom rail. To properly align the holes in the frame’s rail, insert a bolt after drilling the first hole.

Drill a centered 5/32″ hole in one end of each pulley block and 5/16″ holes for the mounting bolts. The 5/16″ holes must line up, so stack the blocks in pairs (back blocks and front blocks) for drilling. After drilling the first hole in each pair, insert a bolt to keep those holes in alignment while drilling the second hole. Install a pulley between each front and rear block. Position one such assembly with the pulley centered on the center frame’s bottom rail and drill a hole through the rail (Photo 5). Install a bolt to drill the remaining holes. Then bolt the pulley block assemblies on both sides of the bottom rail.

Photo 6. Assemble the bench cabinet by attaching stretchers on the top and bottom. Install spacers to keep the frames aligned during this process.

Assemble the cabinet on a flat surface—using the bench top you completed earlier is one good option (Photo 6). Space the frames 24″ apart by using spacers that are rabbeted on both ends. Build each spacer by squarely fastening a 24″ long piece of scrap plywood to a longer piece of plywood. It’s a good idea to recruit a helper to install the spacers. When the frames are properly spaced, screw the stretchers (M) to the top and bottom.Then screw on the cleats (N) and fasten the back (P) to square and stabilize the assembly. Attach the end panels (Q) and the decorative pine facing (R–U).

Fig. A. Exploded View

Fig. B. Bench Frame Assembly

Fig. C. Lift Lever Dimensions

Fig. D. Pulley Blocks

Fig. E. Caster Brackets

Power Tool-Friendly Workbench

Overall Dimensions: 36″ H x 84″ L x 31″ D

Part

Name

Qty.

Material

Th x W x L

A

Benchtop core

1

Hollow core door

1-3/8″ x 30″ x 80″

B

Benchtop bottom

1

Plywood

1/2″ x 31-1/8″ x 84″

C

Benchtop top

1

Plywood

3/4″ x 31-1/8″ x 84″

D

Benchtop core spacer

1

Pine

1-3/8″ x 4″ x 30″

E

Vise fill strip

1

Pine

1-3/8″ x 1-1/8″ x 8″

F

Stile

12

Plywood

3/4″ x 3″ x 32-5/8″

G

Rail

6

Plywood

3/4″ x 3″ x 24″

H

Fill block

6

Plywood

3/4″ x 3″ x 2″

J

Middle stile

2

Plywood

3/4″ x 3″ x 29-1/8″

K

Lift lever

1

Plywood

1/2″ x 3″ x 29-1/2″

L

Pulley block

4

Maple

1-1/4″ x 1-1/4″ x 3-1/2″

M

Stretcher

3

Plywood

3/4″ x 3″ x 54-1/2″

N

Cleat

3

Plywood

3/4″ x 3″ x 18″

P

Back

1

Plywood

1/2″ x 30-5/8″ x 54-1/2″

Q

Frame panel

2

Plywood

3/4″ x 18″ x 30-5/8″

R

Frame face

2

Pine

3/4″ x 2-1/4″ x 33-5/8″

S

Center face

2

Pine

3/4″ x 3/4″ x 33-5/8″

T

Center top fill

1

Pine

3/4″ x 3″ x 3-3/4″

U

Center bottom fill

1

Pine

3/4″ x 3/4″ x 5″

V

Caster bracket back

2

Pine

3/4″ x 4″ x 24″

W

Caster bracket bottom

2

Plywood

3/4″ x 4-3/4″ x 24″

X

Caster bracket brace

4

Plywood

3/4″ x 4″ x 4″ (a)

Y

Caster bracket block

2

Plywood

2-1/4″ x 3″ x 6″ (b)

Z

Lever stop

1

Plywood

1/2″ x 1-1/2″ x 5″

Notes

(a) Cut diagonally.

(b) Stack three 3/4″ pieces.

Install the mobile base

Photo 7. Complete each caster bracket by installing a large eyebolt.

Build the caster brackets (V–Y; Fig. E) and install 5/16″ x 4″ eyebolts (Photo 7). Loop one end of an 8′ length 1/8″ wire cable through the eye bolt on one of the caster brackets. Secure this loop by hammered-on aluminum ferrule. Raise the base on scraps of 1/2″ plywood. Then attach the caster brackets (Photo 8). If your mobile base requires more clearance, use thicker scraps of plywood.

Photo 8. Attach the caster brackets after raising the bench cabinet on 1/2″ plywood riser blocks. Callout: 24″ continuous hinge

Photo 9. Feed the cable from the caster bracket’s eyebolt through the first pulley, up and through the lever and back down through the second pulley.

Thread the free end of the cable through the nearest pulley and up to the bushed hole in the lever. Feed the cable through the bushing, down through the other pulley and over to the second caster bracket (Photo 9). Thread the cable through the eyebolt, bring the end back into the bench and install a cable clamp to form a loop.

Photo 10. Use a clamp to tighten the cable after looping it through the second eyebolt. Then secure the tensioned cable using two cable clamps.

Use an F-style clamp with its head inside the loop and its screw bearing against the opposite side of the center frame to tighten the cable (Photo 10). Then install two cable clamps to hold the tension. You have to use cable clamps because the cable will stretch under the weight of the bench and will eventually need to be re-tensioned. Install the lift lever stop (Z). Then test the lift mechanism and make any necessary adjustments. Move the cabinet to the floor. Then attach the bench top by driving screws through the cleats on the top of the cabinet.

Fig. F. Tool Platform

Fig. G. Tool Platform Dimensions

Fig. H. Slide Support Details

Fig. J. Rotating Link Details

Tool Platform

Overall Dimensions: 18-3/8″–23-1/8″ H x 24″ W x 24″ – 54″ D

Part

Name

Qty

Material

Th x W x L

AA

Outside slide support

4

Plywood

3/4″ x 3″ x 24″

BB

Middle slide support

4

Plywood

3/4″ x 3″ x 18″

CC

Inside slide support

4

Plywood

3/4″ x 3″ x 21″

DD

Link

8

Plywood

3/4″ x 2″ x 7″ (aa)

EE

Stop block

4

Plywood

3/4″ x 3″ x 5-1/2″ (bb)

FF

Platform side

4

Plywood

3/4″ x 3″ x 18″

GG

Platform brace

4

Plywood

3/4″ x 3″ x 13-3/4″

HH

Cross brace

1

Plywood

1/2″ x 3″ x 23-3/4″

JJ

Platform

1

Plywood

3/4″ x 18″ x 19-1/4″ (cc)

KK

Support bracket brace

1

Plywood

3/4″ x 3″ x 18-1/4″ (cc)

LL

Support bracket plate

2

Plywood

3/4″ x 3″ 19-5/8″

MM

Support bracket leg

2

Plywood

3/4″ x 3″ x 14-1/2″ (cc)

Notes

(aa) Ends rounded at 1″radius.

(bb) Cut front end at 15 angle.

(cc) Sander platform dimensions:Slide support mounting height: 9-5/8″; Platform: 15-1/4″ W; Support bracket brace: 1-1/4″ W; Support bracket leg: 9-1/4″ L.

Assemble the tool platform

The pullout tool platform (Fig. F) extends by means of two 16″ 200 lb. capacity drawer slides on each side and rides on a support bracket with fixed casters. Rotating links raise and lower the platform between its storage and operating positions.

The platform shown shown here is designed for use with DeWalt’s compact jobsite tablesaw (Fig. G). Note that the saw’s blade must be lowered and its guard, fence and miter gauge must be removed in order to store the tool. We built simple brackets to conveniently store these must-have accessories on the left side of the cabinet.

To work with other similar saws you may have to make some alterations. For a shorter or taller saw, simply raise or lower the outside slide support’s mounting position inside the cabinet. For a wider saw, increase the dimension between the cabinet’s frames. You can also alter the platform to house a much taller tool.

Photo 11. Lay out the platform assembly’s support slides and links. Mark centerlines on all of the pieces and locate the bolt holes on the inside slide supports and the links.

Cut the 3″ wide plywood slide supports (AA–CC, Fig. F) and the 2″ wide links (DD) to length. Note that the slide supports are different lengths (Fig. H, Detail 1). Draw centerlines for mounting the slides on each support and mark the 1″ radius ends on each link (Fig. J, Details 1, 2). Then locate the 1/4″ dia. holes on the inside slide supports (Fig. H, Detail 2) and on the rotating links (Photo 11). Correctly locating these holes is critical for the platform’s lift mechanism to work properly. The spacing between these holes must be the same on all similar pieces. Make sure to correctly countersink or counterbore the holes drill deep enough to recess the screw head or locking nut and washer slightly below the surface. After all the holes are drilled, round the ends of the links to slightly less a 1″ radius, so they won’t rub as they rotate and cause the mechanism to bind.

Photo 12. Screw the drawer slides to the slide supports. Mount slides on both sides of the middle slide supports.

Start the assembly by attaching the drawer slides on the supports’ centerlines (Photo 12). Note that the slides mount in different locations on each support.  Fasten the links and their 15° stop blocks (EE) to the inside slide supports (Photo 13). Tighten the links so they rotate smoothly, without wobbling. Don’t over-tighten. Attach each stop by rotating the front link up and over to match the stop’s angle.

Photo 13. Fasten an angled stop block behind the link near the front end of each inside slide support. The links at the back don’t require stop blocks.

Assemble each set of slide supports and fully extend the slides.  Then install stops made from 1″ x 1″ aluminum angle to stabilize the pullout assembly and keep the slides from rolling back into the bench when you lift or lower the tool platform. Cut one leg of the angle down to 1/2″ on the tablesaw. Set the blade’s height at 1/8″. Place the angle against the fence with a sacrificial piece of wood nested inside and run the assembly through the saw as if it were a piece of wood. Each slide assembly requires four 3-1/2″ long stops (Photo 14). Drill mounting holes for screws and attach the stops. Make sure the top of the stop is high enough to ride on top of the adjacent slide support when the assembly is pushed in. Fasten the stops just tight enough to automatically fall into place when the assembly is pulled out.

Photo 14. Install stops that ride on top of the slide supports and automatically fall into place when the slide assembly is fully extended.

Photo 15. Attach the platform frame to the links. Tighten the bolts so the links rotate freely, without binding or wobbling.

Assemble the platform’s frame (FF, GG) and attach it to the links mounted on the platform’s two slide assemblies (Photo 15). Flip over this assembly to attach the cross brace (HH, Photo 16). Then flip the assembly again to fasten the platform (JJ).

Photo 16. Stabilize the platform assembly by fastening a horizontal brace to the bottom, flush with the back ends of the middle slide supports.

Install the tool platform

Photo 17. Mount the tool platform’s outside slide supports in the cabinet. Use spacers to level the supports and position them at the correct height.

Remove the tool platform’s outside slide supports and mount them in the cabinet. Remember, the mounting height shown in Figure G is for the DeWalt saw that’s pictured. Make adjustments as necessary to find the correct mounting height for your saw—so the benchtop functions as an outfeed table. Cut a pair spacers to the proper length and clamp them inside the cabinet. Place each outside slide support on top of these spacers. Then fasten it to the frame, flush at the back (Photo 17).  After attaching both slide supports, install the rest of the platform assembly as if it were a drawer.

Photo 18. Install the support bracket to complete the tool platform.

Install a support bracket with fixed casters to complete the tool platform (Photo 18). With the platform fully recessed inside the cabinet, measure the length between the outside faces of the inside slide supports. Cut the cross brace (KK) to the same length and the plate (LL) 1-1/2″ longer. Cut the legs (MM) extra long. Assemble the bracket and mount the 2″ casters. Pull the platform out of the cabinet just far enough to slide the bracket into position against the inside slide supports. Then mark the legs’ exact height. Remove the bracket and cut the legs to length. Then fasten it to the platform.

Photo 19. Anchor the saw to the cabinet and to the tool platform to secure it in the event of a kickback.

Position the saw on the tool platform so that it slides in and out of the cabinet without touching and so the rip fence and miter gauge work properly when the platform is raised. (You may have to cut slots in the benchtop for the miter gauge’s bar.) Fasten the saw to the platform (the base of the DeWalt saw is drilled for mounting screws) and install restraints on both sides to anchor the saw to the cabinet during use (Photo 19). These restraints will help to keep the saw and platform from dropping to storage height in the case of a kickback.

Sidebar: Accommodate a Tall Tool

Minor modifications to a few parts allow the tool platform to house a much taller tool. Mounting the platform lower inside the cabinet is the first step. Shorten the support bracket’s legs accordingly.

The real trick is to lower the platform’s storage height while maintaining its raised operating height. Here’s how: Trim the width of the support bracket cross brace to 1-1/4″ and the width of the platform so it fits between the links. Then cut the 15° stop blocks to the dotted line (Fig. J, Detail 3). These simple alterations allow the links to swing all the way down, lowering the tool platform’s storage height by 5″ and simultaneously increasing its travel by the same length, to a whopping 9-3/4″.

Bio

Richard Tendick is a retired engineer who loves designing projects and working wood.

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