Easy Weekend Project - Recycled Desk Workbench

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Entropy Demonstrator
May 15, 2009
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We recently had a garage sale, and my wife sold off a few of my under-utilized workbenches. So, I decided to throw together a quick replacement using a bunch of left-over pieces from numerous side projects. Starting with an IKEA-styled desk... the kind using cam-locks. Worked fine as a desk, but as a workbench, I thought it might be flimsy, so I rebuilt it with JB Weld and cabinet screws. Never coming apart now.


This will be the chassis of the workbench, i.e. it is currently upside down. But, easy to work on the bottom this way, so while inverted I added some casters. As this will go over the lip at the base of my garage door, I used larger wheels than necessary. And, since this type of tire is notorious for not holding air, I replaced them with solid rubber "no-flat" tires.



The desk itself is 30" deep x 60" wide. Built a quick divider / center section support, to help the worktop avoid sagging. Also added a handle on the end with castering wheels to aid pushing it around. The side view shows the cabinet screws holding the desk together.



The top will be two sheets of MDF, cut to 32" by 64". Laying out the cuts to maximize useful pieces and minimize scraps. There were extra pieces that were used for the center support and for the worktop backstop. The lower section of the worktop is attached first, screwed down into the desk with countersunk 2 1/2" screws. Vertical (metal) support added at this time for the backstop.


First glitch... I had the folks at Lowes cut the MDF for me. The two halves of the worktop were off a full 1/4" in both length and width. I aligned one edge in each direction, leaving the other two edges to deal with later (first photo). Top half of worktop glued and screwed from the bottom with 1 1/4" screws, to not be visible from above or protrude through the 1 1/2" combined thickness of the two sheets of MDF. When the two sheets were secure, I planed the edges to even them up (second photo).


Backstop added. This is also a doubled thickness of MDF. The raw sheets come 49" x 97", so when I had the worktops cut to 32" x 64", it left nice pieces of 16+" x 64". (Since the worktops weren't even, the backstop was correspondingly off, requiring planing to match edges.) Second photo shows the steel strap holding the backstop in place. It was also glued at the 1 1/2" thickness along the bottom. It will be used for minor tool storage racks and is not load-bearing.


Since MDF is pretty much just thick cardboard, I added hardwood trim around the perimeter to protect the edges. I also plan to shellac the surface. The Poplar wood trim is 1 x 2, which is in reality 0.75" x 1.5", which fit nicely on the 1.5" thick double layers of MDF. Drawers were salvaged from 90's plastic Craftsman workbench that previously demonstrated design obsolescence. Pretty much everything on this workbench was recycled / repurposed from other projects.


Finished for the night, cleaned up and ready to put away. Urethane finish next to apply, then can accessorize.