Sticking two boards together end to end might qualify as a woodworking joint, technically – but anyone with a little experience in the shop knows it’s probably not the best way to construct a wood project. Boards usually need a little more help than that to bond sufficiently. The question is a matter of just how much help we’re talking about here. This is a site about workbenches and workbench plans – and in particular – benches that DIY people build for a garage or basement, so I’m going to make a case for including a little bit of joinery in your next workbench design, but nothing that twelve-year-old kid couldn’t pull off.
In talking about a garage workbench, made with 2×4 lumber – we’ve got a great opportunity to add an incredible amount of strength and durability in the legs, rails, and stiles. By simply “sandwiching” pairs of studs together, we can effectively double the strength of the bench. The real magic, though, comes in using the layer method to create a half-lap joint – all without having to really cut a half lap joint in the first place.
When we layer a pair of 2×4s (face to face), we’re essentially creating a 4×4 board. But if we cut the inside board a little short (before sandwiching them together), we’ll end up with a gap at both ends – which essentially creates a half lap for us to work with. A half-lap made without a table saw, without a dado blade, without a chisel.
I think you’ll find that these quick-and-easy 2×4 half laps will give you a structure that’s…Well, indestructible. Which is why they work so nice for workbench plans and designs, shop tables, or anything that’s going get some serious abuse in the shop. You can decide for yourself the best way to mount the boards – or in other words, how permanent you want the joint to be. If you have no intentions of ever moving the workbench to another location, go ahead bring everything together with glue and screws for a bench that will probably outlive you. Otherwise, you might consider using carriage bolts or lag screws (without glue), in which case you’ll have the opportunity to not only tear down the bench at a later date but tighten things up a bit if they get wiggly over time.