McClure potting bench

Redwood or Cedar
Gardening Work Bench

Design, photos & parts list
generously contributed by
Mike McClure

(See parts list.)

Building the leg assemblies:

1. Using one of the 8 ft 2X4, cut a piece 54” long. With the remainder of the wood, cut a length 36” long. This represents one of the front legs and one of the back legs.

2. Repeat step 1 with another 8 ft 2X4. This represents the other front and back legs.

3. Using a third 8 ft. 2X4, cut four pieces, each 22” long. These pieces represent the crosspieces or spacers supporting the front legs to the back legs.

Step 44. Notching the wood. To insure stability, the crosspieces are notched into the leg pieces.

From the bottom of each leg, measure up 12” and mark. Then measure up another 3.5” (15.5” from the bottom.) This is where the first notch will be. The crosspiece for the bottom shelf will attach here. For accuracy, use one of the cross pieces as your guide to verify the width. The tighter this fit, the more stable the bench will be. Notch out 1/2 of the wood’s width. (Approx. 3/4deep)

At the top of the front legs (The 2X4’s that are 36” long) Notch out the top 3.5”. This will be for the countertop cross piece. Again, use the crosspiece as your guide.
Using the front leg as your guide, mark this notch on the back leg. (It should begin approx. 32.5” up from the bottom.)

Repeat this process for the other back leg.

Notch out the ends of each of the 4 crosspieces. These notches should be no wider than the width of the legs, so use them as your guides.

5. With the notching complete, fit all of the crosspieces together with the leg pieces. (Note: Remember, the right side legs assembly should be assembled opposite (mirror image) the left side leg assembly. So reverse how you assemble them.)

Next drill 3/8” holes at each notched joint. Use wood glue inside the notches. Using a galvanized bolt, 2 washers (One inside, one outside) and a nut, at each joint, bolt the cross pieces to the legs.

You now have completed the left and right side leg assemblies.

6. Using one of the 8 ft 2X4’s cut two pieces: 45” long (These will be the front and back shelf supports for the bottom shelf.)

7. Using seven 1 X 4 boards, cut each of them in two at 48” each. (14 boards total)
Thirteen of the 48” boards will be used as follows:

2 will be used for the top shelf
5 will be used bottom shelf
6 will be used for the countertop.
The remaining piece will be used for the shelf support pieces.

Completing the framing:

notching around bolt8. Using one of the 45” 2X4’s, attach it to the back legs, where the bottom cross pieces are notched together. It should be flush with the backside of the vertical leg pieces. (You may have to notch out a small area to accommodate the nut. See photo) Drill small guide holes and use the 3” screws and wood glue to secure.
Step 99. Using the other 45” 2X4, attach it to the crosspieces, just behind the front legs. Again, drill small guide holes and use the 3” screws and wood glue to secure. (The bottom shelf is does not extend to the outside edge of the legs. Notice arrow in picture)

10. Next, measure and cut another 2X4 for a centered crosspiece for the bottom shelf. The length should be 16”, but measure to be sure.

Do not cut the center cross piece for the counter top yet.

Building the countertop:

11. Starting at the front, lay in place the first 48” 1X4 slat. The board should be flush with the edge of the legs and cross pieces. Drill 2 guide holes on each side of the board. Using the 1 1/4“ screws and wood glue, attach the board.

12. Space the next 1X4 board 1/4” behind the first. (Use a 1/4” drill bit as a guide). Drill and attach as before. Repeat this process for the next 4 boards.
Step 13

13. The last board will need to be notched around the vertical back legs. Measure and cut out the wood to allow the board to notch around the vertical leg. Do not throw away that scrap piece. Use that scrap piece as a support brace under the board. (See photo.)

Bottom shelf:

Step 1414. Starting just inside the vertical front legs, lay the first 1X4 in place and secure. Again, using 1/4” spacers, lay the remaining 4 boards in place. Like on the counter top, the last board will require notching. Repeat the same process as above and use the scrap piece for a brace under that board.

15. With the countertop completed, cut the two 1X6’s into four 48” lengths.

One will be for the front edge of the countertop.
One will be for the back edge of the countertop
One will be for the ‘backsplash’ just above the back edge of the countertop
One will be for the back edge of the top shelf.

Attach one of the 1X6’s to the front of the bench. It should be flush with the top of the countertop and flush with the edges of the legs.

Next, repeat this process for the back of the counter top. This back piece should be flush with the countertop.

Above the back edge piece, attach the back splash.

With the front and back 1X4’s in place, measure and cut a 2X4 for the center cross piece. It should be 22.5” in length, but measure to be sure.Step 15 aStep 15 b

Top Shelf:

Step 16 a16. There should be one left over piece of 1X4 board. Use this piece to cut 3 support brackets. Cut each piece 7” long. Next, along one side measure in 5” and cut a 45-degree angle cut. This will create the finished edge to the bracket.
Step 1717. Attach one bracket to each of the vertical rear legs (on the inside of the leg). It should be flush with the top and back of the leg.

18. Next, attach the remaining 1X4 48” boards to these brackets. Again, remember to space the boards _” apart. (The back of the rear 1X4 board should be flush with the backside of the vertical legs.

19. With these boards attached, attach the last 1X6 board behind the shelf. Position it so that it is approx. 1.5” is above the shelf and 3” are below the shelf. This way you have a backing to hang tools from. Secure this board both to the vertical leg pieces as well as to the shelf. See arrows in picture below.Step 19






Step 2020. Finally, attach the third bracket piece to the underside of the shelf. This bracket should be screwed into the backboard, but it is not critical to screw the shelves to this bracket.


21. Sand with medium and medium fine sandpaper.

22. Apply at least 3 coats of heavy-duty outdoor polyurethane. (Sand down varnish between each coating.) Be sure to coat the bottom of the legs. If the floor gets wet, this prevents the wood from ‘wicking’ up any water and causing damage.


23. Finally, I recommend screwing on some type of plastic or rubber feet to the bottom (again, to keep it out of any possible puddles.)

24. Additionally, a good thing about this work bench unit is it isn't too large to bring with you if you ever decide or need to relocate. Any number of ABF moving companies have vehicles that are large enough to make sure you don't need to leave your hard work behind.

Happy Gardening,
Mike McClure
©Mike McClure

If you have any questions regarding this garden potting bench, please contact Mike:

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