Do-it-yourself outdoor workbench. Outdoor Workshop:

Building An Outdoor Workbench

In This Article:

A table top with 2x4 frame and plywood surface is prepared. 4x4 legs are installed and braced with 2x4 angle braces.

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Skill Level: 2-3 (Basic to Intermediate) Time Taken: About 3 Hours

By , Editor


This was my starting point: A table top that had been sitting on a pair of sawhorses.

This table top was part of a workbench that was built into the garage when I bought this house a year ago.


This old workbench was a piece of crap!

I think SpongeBob (the previous owner) had tested a chain saw by cutting into the top.

To build a decent workbench, I needed to cut off the mangled end of this table top.


Modifying table top to cut shorter. I laid the table top on the ground and marked the horizontal 2x4's for cutting (red lines).

Then I ran a circular saw along the line. But that only cut part way through.


So I had to use a reciprocating saw (with the blade installed upside down) to cut the rest of the way through the 2x4's.


I placed a piece of 2x4 against the cut ends to mark the cut line on the plywood top surface.

I marked the edges of the plywood, then turned the table top over and drew a line.


Then I cut off the excess plywood with a circular saw.


I chopped a treated 2x4 to the appropriate length (in this case 36 inches) and screwed it to the ends of the long 2x4's.

I also fastened the plywood to the 2x4's with 2 inch deck screws. The good news is... the plywood was 5/8" thick, which is pretty good for a workbench surface.

This completed my table top.


Notes On Building A Table Top:

This table top is just a 36-inch wide piece of 5/8" plywood with a frame of 2x4's around the perimeter. Two more long 2x4's have been added beneath the middle so the plywood has more support.

I have built many table tops from a 2' x 8' piece of plywood or OSB, with a simple 2x4 perimeter. Sometimes I've added a long 2x4 in the center, sometimes not. Heavy plywood (such as 3/4") with supporting structure 24 inches apart is capable of supporting plenty of load when used as a workbench. An 8-foot long workbench top with a 2x4 frame is good, but a little flexible. A 2x6 frame would be better if a heavy-duty workbench was desired.

It would be a good idea to attach the ends any middle frame boards with metal joist hangers, which are available for 2x4 and 2x6 lumber.

For an outdoor workbench I would recommend using treated lumber and plywood.


Table Legs: 

I cut a 12-foot long 4x4 into four pieces, each 36 inches long.

Most 10" miter saws I've used can cut through a 4x4 without having to rotate the board. A circular saw can also be used, but at least two cuts are needed to cut all the way through.


I set two 36" long 4x4 legs in place on the upside-down table top.


I drove in one screw on each side of the table top. This held the legs while allowing them to move enough to align the 45-degree corner braces.


Bracing The Legs:

Cutting angle braces. I cut a 2x4 on a 45-degree angle to make some braces.


Angled Corner Braces:

When a corner brace is cut with 45-degree angles, the length of the longest side will be 1.414 times the "rise" or "run".

Since the dimension "L" was 14.5 inches in my case, the long dimension (which is the hypotenuse of the triangle) was almost exactly 20.5 inches


Calculating length of 45-degree angle board.


Laying out the angle bracket:

I made a mark 14½" from the outer edge of the 4x4 leg.

I also measured up the same distance, basing the measurement at the edge of the 2x4 lateral board.


Fastening legs to workbench. I clamped the angle brace to the table leg, making sure that each end of the brace was lined up with the 14½" marks.

Then I drove in 4 deck screws at the clamped end.

I could only get one screw at the other end. (See below...)


I installed the brace on the adjacent leg.


Leg framing for outdoor workbench. Then I attached a cross-member, using 3" deck screws to fasten it.


At the other end of the brace, I could only reliably get one screw through the mitered end.


Another view of same scenario.

The upper end of the brace (uppermost in this picture, that is) was securely fastened to the 4x4 leg because the boards overlapped by 3½ inches.

But the lower end of the brace was a tricky connection. I could drive toe-nails (or "toe-screws") but that will make the wood split, and it won't be a very strong connection.


To ensure a really good connection between the angle brace and the table top, I added a second angle brace (which coincidentally was the exact same length and shape) to the inside of the first brace.

By fastening this extra brace to the table top 2x4 and to the first brace, I was able to obtain a truly sturdy joint.

When two boards overlap each other by a significant amount, and several fasteners are used, a very strong joint can be obtained. This is probably the most secure joint that you can get without using metal connectors.


Other Methods Of Attaching Angle Brackets:

Drilling pocket holes. Pocket screws would make a good method of making a strong connection between the 45-degree angle cut and the lateral board on the table top.

I drilled two holes through each face of the angle bracket.


Which look like this...


Pocket screws used to fasten legs on workbench. I fastened the angle brace with 1½" stainless steel pan-head sheet metal screws.

These seemed to hold pretty well.


Pocket screws, completed.


Another method of fastening the angle bracket is a tie plate.

To be effective, the tie plate needs to overlap each piece of wood by a decent amount.

How much overlap? Maybe 3 inches square in this case.


Final Product:

Finished workbench, still upside down.


After completing the workbench I sanded the plywood top and gave the non-treated wood two coats of solid-tone deck stain. This should help the top resist the effects of the weather. Outdoor work bench outside garage.


Dimensioned Pictures:

The overall length was 80 inches... but only because I shortened the original table top from 96 inches.


Location of the angle brace as measured from the underside of the table top.. Dimensions of side detail of workbench.


Dimensions of end structure of outdoor workbench.

End View:

The table legs were 36 inches long, and the overall width was also 36 inches (this is just a coincidence).

In the past I've often made workbenches with 32 inch long legs, so I can get three pieces from an 8-foot 2x4. This time I chose 36 inches because I liked the higher work surface.


More Info:

Tools Used:

  • Basic Carpentry Tools
  • Cordless Drill/Driver
  • Cordless Impact Driver (Optional)
  • Miter Saw

Materials Used:

  • 4x4x12' Treated
  • 2x4x8' Treated (3 pieces)
  • 3" Deck Screws
  • Plywood
  • 2x4x8' (About 7 pieces)
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Written July 22, 2007