Get Them Started Early:
Workbench Plans For Your Kids Or Grandkids
In this modern age of smartphones and tablet computers it is getting harder and harder to find a way to get your kids’ or grandkids’ nose away from a screen. The sad reality is that these communication and entertainment devices allow them to stay in contact with their friends in ways that we never dreamt of, and, as a result, young people are spending less and less time with their families. If you want to spend some quality time with your kids or grandkids, introduce them to your love of woodworking, and instill in them the passion that you have for your craft. One of the best ways to get them invested in this hobby is to give them a workspace that they feel is their own, and one that they feel proud to use. A simple workbench is a terrific place to start, and this work table plan is both cheap and easy.
• 2x4s: The number and size will depend on the height of your child. A good place to start is with six 8’ pieces (you can typically buy inexpensive wall studs for about $2.50 each). If you find that you have extra lumber left over, then you can use it on your next project.
• Plywood: You will need at least one large piece of plywood to make the top and a shelf underneath the work table. It should have some decent thickness to give the bench some heft, so 5/8” is a good place to start.
• Deck Screws: The project will take about a dozen 3” deck screws, and a handful of shorter screws to attach the top to the base.
• The first thing that you need to do is measure the height of the child that you are building the workbench for. The best workbenches will come up to the waist of the child, but you will want to build your bench a several inches higher than the minimum, so that the child can continue to use it as they grow.
• Once the measurements have been taken, mark and cut your 2x4s for the legs. With 8’ pieces you should be able to get at least two legs from each 2×4. The leftover pieces from those will be used as bracing pieces for the support structure of the work table.
• The process of measuring and marking the wood is a great time to get your child involved in the actual building process, even if he or she is fairly young. Teaching them the importance of proper measurements and how to use a tape measure is an invaluable skill that will come in handy when you move on to other projects.
• After you have the legs cut, set them aside and start measuring the other 2x4s for the rest of the frame. A good workbench should have enough room for your child to work, but it should not be so deep that they have a hard time reaching across the top. A length of about 48” is suitable for most benches, and a depth of 24-30” will be fine for just about any project that you want to do in your garage. Make your measurements again, and cut the support frame to set aside. You should have four of each of the long and short pieces, so that you have a frame for both the top of the workbench and the shelf underneath.
• Now that you have the legs and the frame ready to go, you can put them all together. This is another great teaching moment, where you can demonstrate to your child how to properly use a square and a level to make the bench sit flat. Attach the long width pieces of frame to the legs with your long deck screws, using four per side (two per leg). If your child is helping you with the project, try just drilling the holes and allowing the child to use a screw driver to actually attach the pieces.
You can always go back and tighten them yourself if necessary, but keeping the child involved in the construction process now will make them more willing to participate in future projects. After the long pieces are attached, finish the frame by screwing the smaller pieces into the legs using the same sized screws and pattern. You will want to attach the small pieces about 6-8” from the bottom of the legs, so that the bottom shelf is not on the floor.
The Top And Shelf
• Stand the frame up and prepare to attach the top of the workbench. You should measure the distance across the frame one more time to make sure that you are getting the right sized piece for the actual work table, and when you have it cut, screw it in with the slightly shorter deck screws that you have.
• The shelf will be a little bit harder to attach, as you will have to account for the size of the legs when you make your measurements. If you used 2x4s for the frame, you can cut notches in a piece of plywood on each corner that are 3 1/8” x 5 1/8”. This is more than enough to account for the size of the legs, without making the fit too tight or too loose. Attach the shelf to the frame using the same type of screws that you used for the top.
• Throughout much of the project a young child probably did not have much to do. The finishing touches are where you can make the child an active participant once again.
• Teach your child about sanding as you take away the rough texture of the plywood workbench top, and around the edges.
• You might want to allow the child to paint or decorate the bench so it really feels like it belongs to them.
• After all of the decorative tasks are completed, put some common woodworking supplies on the bottom shelf, and teach your child about the need to keep a workspace organized.
This guide on how to build a workbench is just a small glimpse into the future projects that you can complete with your kids, if you are able to instill a love of woodworking projects in them at a young age.