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I'm new to woodworking and I'm in the process of building myself a workbench for my garage. The workbench is divided into three sections. Each side will have space for storage and the middle will be left empty as I intend to be able to sit at the workbench. This space leaves space for my legs when sitting at the bench.

I've assembled the top and have cut the legs to length. The top is made from 94mm x 44mm smooth planed timber and a sheet of 18mm hardwood plywood. The legs are 69mm x 69mm smooth planed timber. I also have one more length of 94mm x 44mm which I intend to use as a brace along the whole back side. The two side sections will be boxed out with plywood to provide storage space and rigidity. The horizontal leg supports will need to be able support this plywood and anything stored in there.

workbench in progress

I'm thinking ahead to how the horizontal supports with join with the legs and not too sure what the best option is. How should I join the supports to the legs in the circled areas? Are screws sufficient or maybe dowels? I've had a look at different types of wood joints but can't think of one which wouldn't end up with me cutting almost all the way through the leg to facilitate both the front and side supports.

workbench sketchup

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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    What criteria will you consider when evaluating "best"? Cost? Ease of construction? Strength? Aesthetics? There is no overall "best" or you could look at any 50 work benches and notice that 49 of them use the same method.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 14 at 15:05
  • True. I guess I should have specified that best would be primarily related to providing adequate strength and rigidity, with the materials I have. I don't mind buying a few fixings if necessary. I'm not too fussed about aesthetics, though I'm not really a fan of pocket screws. Commented Mar 14 at 15:35
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    Welcome to StackExchange and Woodworking Andy. This might sound a little critical but it's not intended to be, you've fallen into a trap that so many beginner/learner woodworkers do (not sure why!) and that is trying to work from a blank slate. There's absolutely no reason to ever do this starting out as there's an amazing abundance of information already out there, starting with books of all ages which are too often overlooked these days. Some things you can directly copy from of course, or tweak, or use as a stepping stone to a level that you bypass any need to ask a question like this :-)
    – Graphus
    Commented Mar 15 at 8:20
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    "How should I join the supports to the legs in the circled areas? Are screws sufficient or maybe dowels?" Both would be suitable if building exactly as pictured and there are no mortise-and-tenon joints. You can read up on screws into end grain in a previous answer here on Woodworking. Dowels, either through-dowels or hidden, can actually be immensely strong if done right, so also very suitable (although requiring quite a bit more care in the case of hidden dowels). Through-dowels on the other hand are a total snap as you drill both sides of the joint in one go (one reason I'm a big fan).
    – Graphus
    Commented Mar 15 at 8:39
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    Relating to @bowlturner's Answer, here are two highly relevant videos from just the last three months. First, youtube.com/watch?v=teE3lzbo9WI and second, youtube.com/watch?v=TmBFPu1oKog. First is from Rex Kruger, second is from Frank's Workbench. Highly recommend both channels BTW if you're into hand-tool woodworking.
    – Graphus
    Commented Mar 15 at 8:45

1 Answer 1

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Honestly I'd use a cross lap joint like

enter image description here

You can do it from both direction, and yes it looks like you are cutting away all the beam but I've used this for my construction of wood racks, that hold a couple thousand pounds of wood.

Though most ways to do the joinery will work just fine, even butt joints if you can do a good job of nailing or screwing them together, because unless you are storing the weights from a weight lifting set ( and I mean a LOT of them) on the shelves even the butt joint is more than enough (with the right fasteners).

Metal L-Brackets would also work.

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  • To satisfy the requirement for a plywood skin (assuming I am correctly understanding what the OP is intending) this is the ideal solution. Overlay joints, with the crosspieces unconventionally sandwiching the plywood, would also work just fine but the result would be far less elegant and provide less joint-cutting practice :-)
    – Graphus
    Commented Mar 15 at 8:33
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    Thanks a lot @bowlturner. I went with half-laps for the front and back beams which has worked out pretty well. I'll be using glue and dowels on the beams between each of the four sets of front and back legs. Your advise gave me the confidence to just go for it, so thanks very much. Commented Mar 20 at 14:28

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