This instructable will show how to build a cheap and simple garage storage and workbench out of plywood that will allow you to store all of your tools or gear safely while doubling as a great work bench surface.
This is my first instructable so please be nice but also leave comments to tell me what you think.
Step 1: Determine your plan and identify all of your needs
I had a 22ft long wall in my garage that is perfect for setting up a bench and storage.
I wanted a place to use my miter saw and lots of drawers to store my woodworking, gardening, and mechanics tools.
The bench would be designed to be 39" high from the floor and two feet deep.
I wanted to take the bench top from wall to wall and therefore would have room to tuck under my lawnmower, snowblower, table saw, shopvac, and cyclone dust collector.
The bench would be made by simple modular plywood cabinets that would hold the storage drawers. The floating portions of the bench top will be made by 2x4 framing.
Step 2: Cut the Plywood
I used sanded 3/4" Plywood from Home Depot for the main cabinet carcass and for the bench tops. 4 full sheets of plywood are enough to make 5 cabinet carcases and a full 20' length of bench top.
With a circular saw with a plywood blade and a Kreg Rip Cut saw guide; rip each sheet of plywood into two strips 2' x 8'.
I kept 3 of the nicest looking strips for the 20' of bench tops.
Each half sheet can make two sides, a top and a bottom for cabinet carcasses. I was planning making 5 cabinets so I cross cut into 28" lengths for the carcass sides. I cross cut strips into 23 1/4" lengths for the bottoms and tops of each carcass.
For the drawers, I used 1/2" Sande Plywood from Home Depot that was sanded on both sides. Similarly, I ripped all of the full sheets into 2' x 8' halves.
Each drawer bottom is the same 24" x 24". I cut 20 drawer bottoms to length and saved the rest of the plywood for using as drawer sides later.
About the tool:
The Kreg Rip Cut saw guide is definitely worth the money. I purchased this tool for this project and it worked great. I do not have a large table saw with outfeed table, so I have to make due with cutting plywood on the garage floor. The Rip Cut tool made this the easiest and safest plywood cutting job I ever had. The tool is long enough to rip up to 26" wide which is perfect for cutting down plywood for cabinetmaking.
Step 3: Cut the drawer guides
I designed each cabinet so it would have 4 drawers. 3 shallower drawers and one deeper drawer for larger items.
I used a 1/2" router bit in my plunge router to cut the guides. Only cut 1/2" in depth.
Cut the first one 1" from the bottom of the carcass sides. Cut the other three tracks at equal distance 5" from each other and 5 3/4" from the top end. I made temporary jigs for my router to easily line up the cuts so they are all the same on all the cabinet modules.
Step 4: Assemble the cabinet carcasses
Each box has two matching sides facing each other. They are butt screwed to a top and a bottom.
I did not put any backs on the cabinets since you would never see them but I did use scraps of 3/4 plywood at the tops of the back end to help square up the cabinet, and to provide a place to screw the cabinets to the wall.
Note, I wanted a place for my mitre saw so I make one cabinet 3" shorter than the other 4. I planned two shallower 3" drawers for this cabinet.
Once I had assembled the 5 carcasses, I attached them to the wall and to each other using screws. These are floating 10" above the garage floor.
Below the cabinet, I will have extra large drawer to store large or long tools and jigs. These drawers will simply sit on the concrete floor and slide out on carriage bolt heads. You could use casters but I found cheaper carriage bolts with a furniture felt pad worked fine.
Step 5: Fit the drawer bottoms
Drawers were a tight fit within each drawer track. Using an orbital sander, I slightly rounded the drawer bottoms so they would slide in the track more easily. In some cases, I used my table saw to remove 1/8" of material. Make sure each drawer bottom slides well in the tracks before you complete the drawer build.
Step 6: Make lots of drawers
Drawer sides, fronts and backs were made by cutting strips of the 1/2" plywood.
Using my plunge router and a home made jig, I cut a handle in the front of each drawer.
With my orbital sander I sanded each drawer part.
I assembled the drawers by using a brad nailer, and I added two drywall screws to the fronts of each drawer to give additional strength.
This step was the most time consuming because I needed to cut, route, and sand 112 drawer parts.
I built the extra-large drawers that sit on the floor below the cabinets. I made two drawers 4' long, and one 2' long. These lower drawers are only 20" deep to provide toe room for standing while working on the workbench. These are great for extra long items to be stored like clamps, jigs, and shop vac hoses.
Step 7: Install bench tops
The bench tops are another sheet of 3/4" plywood screwed on top of the cabinets.
For the floating portions of the bench, I created a frame in 2x4 lumber, and screwed the bench top to the 2x4.
With 2x4s and two layers of plywood over the cabinets, the bench top is really solid. I was able to install my bench vice.
Step 8: Finishing
I sanded all tops with my orbital sander and used Minwax Natural stain to stain all the plywood.
I added strips of red oak ripped to 1 1/2" and cut for the drawer tracks. I stained these in a Red Oak color.
Everything was covered in three coats of polyurethane.
I was able to store tones of tools and supplies and was able to retire a dozen storage bins and tool boxes. I love my storage now.
If I were to do it all over again, I would have more 3" drawers. These are great for small tools and hand tools. Some of the 5" drawers are getting pretty heavy when they are fully loaded with tools, and the 10" drawers can be too big. If you are copying this idea, spend the extra time and money to make more shallower drawers and only make as many medium sized and deep drawers as you need for larger tools.
Total cost for this project was around $500 in material but the price will vary with the type and quality of plywood you will use.