Indoor Workbench: Unexpectedly Tall Progress

Here’s a little confession for you: Sometimes I build things without plans. And sometimes, when I build things without plans, they turn out… not exactly as I expected.

I know, you just fell over with shock, right?

Let’s talk about my indoor workbench for a minute. This is currently on my five-project list, and I was bound a determined to be able to cross it off before the end of the weekend. I already had most of the body built using old wood from my barn pile, so I thought putting the top together, hauling it all inside, and assembling it would be a piece of cake.

I started by ripping the 2″ rustic maple planks down to the right width for the top of the table…


(For those of you keeping track, that is a table saw in my shop, more on that beast later.)

I used my kreg jig (here’s a tutorial on how) to join four 9″ planks together for the top:


The top of the table is 3×5 and weighs approximately four thousand pounds. Seriously. Okay, maybe it’s like a hundred and ten pounds, but either way, not light like a feather and I have (another) strained neck muscle to prove it.

However, it is sturdy as hell, and that’s the point. My litmus test for “is it strong enough” is “can I sit on it without breaking it in half?”… this one passed.


I hauled all of the pieces into the house on Saturday with the intent of assembling them and then checking this project off the list…

(You’re sensing some foreshadowing here, aren’t you?)


So far so good…


Upside-down for the caster installation…


And then I flipped her over, stood back…


And then I realized that 1.) my entryway is an effing disaster (shocking), and 2.) like the heart of the Grinch, this workbench was not the right size. It is, in fact, three sizes too tall.

Swear to god, the top of the table about comes up to my armpit.

Here’s how this happened… I meant to build the table a smidge over 36″. Like 37 maybe, just a bit taller than counter height. Well, I cut the legs before the casters actually arrived, and since they were 6″ casters, I just assumed they would add about 6″ of height. That was a poor assumption. I also wasn’t sure how the top would shake down, and I ended up adding another inch with the thickness of the maple stock I bought. So my 36″ work table is 39″, and I basically can’t reach the top of it without a step ladder.

So. That’s awesome.

I thought about trying it out at this height, and while it might be okay with bar-height stools (the one shown is the Machinist stool from Industry West, which is not bar height, but they do make them that size), I just can’t work comfortably standing up at this thing. Which means I have a few options:

  1. Replace the 6″ casters with 4″ casters to bring it down a few inches.
  2. Cut a few inches off the bottom of the barn beams.
  3. Remove the casters altogether.
  4. Grow 6″ taller.

Not sure how I’m going to tackle it, but I think I might hold out for that last one…

24 Responses

    1. Good point, Peggy. In my irritation over the fact that it’s not done, I forgot to say how much I freaking love the way it looks!

      Also, I bought the casters on eBay. Just searched for 6″ metal casters.

  1. If you work sitting on a stool, you will end up with very sore shoulders. I always work standing up for that very reason. Those four-inch locking casters I tried to talk you into earlier would help a lot with the height. I would not let it go at that height, though, especially not for someone as short as you are. Just sayin’!

    1. I agree that locking casters would work best because sure enough, youre gonna put something on there and be pounding or pushing on it and the casters are gonna roll on you… something or someone is going to get broken or hurt. And I don’t think smaller casters would look odd at all.

  2. Although it will require the most work, I think #2 is the best bet. 4″ casters will look kind of puny for the scale of the table, and I think you’ll find the ability to move it super handy. (Unless of course you figure out a way to make #4 work.) I feel for you – it is soooo frustrating to be this close to finishing a project and have to go backward a few steps!

    It looks a-may-zing though!!

  3. I completely agree with Christine: 4″ casters would look a little silly because the table is so solid they would just virtually disappear. It might be slightly annoying to cut down the legs by a couple inches, but aesthetically and practically speaking I think that would look and work best for you. A little more work now, but I think the best solution down the line.

    Oh, and of course, it looks AWESOME!

  4. It looks awesome, so whatever you do you’ll still have a fantastic bench. Loving the solidness 🙂

    Keep us posted. And don’t worry about how the house looks, we all suffer the same affliction.

  5. Love the table/workbench….why not just take off the casters and use it as an entryway table ,
    it’s not like there isn’t enough room in there.
    Then make a new workbench and use the 6″ casters!

  6. I’m going to go along with the others, you gotta cut that thing down. Love the look of the big casters! And I know that some jobs you have to use the leverage of your body, so sitting on a high stool won’t cut it.

  7. Consider removing the casters and one of the bottom braces. Then you’ll have an ideal computer desk, about 30″ – 32″ high.

    1. You’re right, it would be good “table height” if I took the casters off, but for an indoor workbench I want it higher than that so it’s comfortable to work at standing up. Plus I like sitting on high stools instead of chairs, I just have to find the happy medium here.

    1. Not a bad idea ron, but I love the character of the metal casters. I don’t actually intend to frequently move the bench once it’s in place (on top of a rug, most likely) so it’s more about the look! I need those damn things for my big leather chair though, I had to push it out of the parlor on cardboard last time…

  8. That’s mammoth and I love how it looks. I vote with many others for #2. Hate to burst your bubble, Kit, but if you hold out for #4 that wonderful work bench will never get used as one…

  9. Oh man- my workbench turned out the same way! There’s a decent picture of it here: After adding the casters, I realized I never accounted for their extra height so the bench is now on the high side of comfortable. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t have a top because I don’t want it to get any taller, so I’ve been using it topless until I get around to disassembling it and chopping a few inches off the legs! …it actually works better than I thought it would!

  10. Hmmm, I think I might be tempted to use that piece in my house as a (granted, very large) sideboard. I say show it off! It’s really cool with the contrasting and salvaged wood. Go make another one from your woodpile for the shop! (Easy for me to say, right? :] )

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