DIY Blue Birthday Workbench

A Garage Transformation and DIY Workbench | Mrs. Fancee

My sweet husband turned 25 last weekend! We had some fabulous BBQ to celebrate (like seriously this stuff was the bomb-diggity!).  And, as a gift, I attempted a garage makeover.  There were some rough patches along the way.. and although I didn’t quite complete the entire makeover, I did manage to construct a fully functional workbench, paint the back wall white, and gather lots of organizational tools to eventually use in the garage.

And, it was all a surprise!  Granted, Jake is the easiest person to successfully surprise. For one, he loves surprises so if he knows there is one, he will take go to great lengths to prevent himself from finding out.  Secondly, and probably most importantly, he is the least nosiest person I know.  Stuff that would make me say, ‘wait, a second…’ and ponder endlessly on, doesn’t even get a blink from him.  For instance, I had broke his power drill screwdriver bit (more on this later…) and had been using the weird removable bit from the hand screwdriver to complete the project and he asked me why it was there, and I just said, oh I needed it.  And literally he thought nothing of it.  If we could all have this trait when it came to the people in our lives, seriously, there would be no gossip.  It’s crazy his lack of the need to know.  I much admire him for it.

So, I had known I wanted to do this makeover for Jake’s birthday for a while.  Right now all the tools are living in our dining room and do not have a permanent home.  And the garage was pretty much hideous.  You can see a before picture below.  The previous owners had attempted to drywall but had never finished mudding the joints, they left holes in their drywall job, grease stains everywhere, and ‘wallpapered’ one side with Budweiser cardboard boxes (you can see some of this lovely art in the top right hand corner).  Classy, right?

A Garage Transformation and DIY Workbench | Mrs. Fancee

(I spy two naughty kitties!)

I shopped around thrift store for a few months ahead of time to gather some organizational baskets.  And the week before I purchased some accessory items at Harbor Freight; a magnetic parts holder tray, a hose (since ours is severed in half…), a magnetic parts strip to mount to the workbench, and some locking casters for mobility.

Garage Makeover Accessories | Mrs Fancee

I researched various workbench tutorials online and settled on this youtube tutorial on a $25 workbench and further modified by inspiration from this workbench by the Newly Woodwards to include a second shelf and blue paint.  The moment of truth arrived when I took a lunch break trip to Home Depot to buy wood pieces and get them cut to size for the workbench.  Now this is all very new territory for me, and as usual, I figured how hard could it be?

I hunted down an associate to assist me in locating the materials I needed and cut them to my dimensions, all while wearing my work clothes and heels on a time crunch during my lunch break to make it back for a training session.  This was a stressful endeavor in the first place, I was late by the time I got all my pieces cut, could hardly steer the cart full of wood to the front of the store, and then it all rang up for a number that was much higher than $25.  I instantly panicked, how could this have happened?  The video said he did his for only $25.  And in a state of panic over spending so much money, struggling with an obstinate wood cart, in the cold, I managed to load up my little VW golf with all the wood and drive back to work, late for my session.

Thankfully, after sitting through an hour and a half webinar on depreciation methods, I was able to calm down some and assess the situation.  First off, I bought high quality plywood for the top and shelves of the bench which cost $20 a board whereas the guy in the video had used one sheet of OSB.  Because of the dimensions I gave the Home Depot associate we could only cut one piece from each plywood sheet, resulting in much scrap leftover (which we can hopefully use for future projects).  After adding in the cost for outdoor grade garage paint and a blue high-gloss for the bench, I realized why the Home Depot bill was what it was.  In the end I made the choices to create a better quality bench for Jake, so I’m convinced it was worth it 🙂

When I got home that night, Jake was already there, so I had to tell him I was hiding his birthday present in the garage and not to look in there.  He complied with my request which also meant that I got to do garbage duty for the week as well.  The next day I had a little time in the middle of the day so I decided to get started on the workbench.  I knew enough to predrill my holes before screwing the pieces together, but I didn’t know it would take extraordinary feats of strength to successfully screw it together without completely stripping the screw and ruining Jake’s screwdriver bit…. which is exactly what I did.

In a panic, once again, I rooted through Jake’s tools searching for another bit.  I only found a screwdriver with a removable end that I was able to use in the drill.  Knowing that it was my only bit left I was very cautious and scared from this point on to do any skipping as I screwed the pieces together.  I also soon discovered that the 2″ screws Jake had were not long enough to attach the 2×4’s together.  So, that evening I purchased some 4″ screws planning on resuming the project the following week.

Well, when I went to resume, I realized that 4″ was entirely too long and would stick out of the wood a ridiculous length.  So once again I trekked back to the depot to buy some 3″ screws (this time I measured!)  Luckily it’s only a 5 minute trip because I arrived home only to realize I had purchased the star head type screws…. which I was unable to screw with my janky screwdriver bit.  So back I went, this time to get the proper phillips head 3″ screws.  Phew!  What a learning curve at this point.

Things went much quicker after that fiasco, I assembled the legs and top and notched out the corners of the plywood to sit on the 2×4’s using our miter saw (probably not recommended, by the way, but I am too scared of the circular saw and too weak for the hand saw…).  Once it was assembled, I primed it and called it a day.

A Garage Transformation and DIY Workbench | Mrs. Fancee

The next day primarily consisted of painting the workbench (two coats) and cleaning and painting the back garage wall (also two coats).  Near the later afternoon (and countdown time since Jake would be home to see it in only a few hours)  I went to attach the accessories to the workbench starting with the casters.

Well, for some reason the holes to attach the casters were way bigger than my screwheads…. So back to the Depot I went to pick up some washers.  The associate convinced me to by some lag screw/bolt things to secure them with, but time was ticking and I couldn’t figure out how to install those, so I just used the washers I bought with my 3″ phillips head screws.  This worked out great until the power drill ran out of battery… so I spent the last hour trying to charge the drill just enough to at least finish off the casters.

When Jake got home, he saw the garage door was open and immediately drove past the house so I could close it since he wasn’t supposed to look in there (see?  such a good surprisee).  But, when he saw me standing there he figured it was alright so he drove up and was very surprised and excited about his early birthday present. 🙂

A Garage Transformation and DIY Workbench | Mrs. Fancee

It still needs a little help, like we can’t figure out how to lock the casters, and it wobbles some once the wheels were attached.  Also, it still needs to be organized with Jake’s tools and to have some extra accessories attached such as the magnetic strip and an extension cord and power strip.

A Garage Transformation and DIY Workbench | Mrs. Fancee

All in all, I’m really proud of how it turned out and Jake loved it!  Which is all that matters to me 🙂  I’m looking forward to sharing some finished pics once we get a few more things done in there (if it ever warms up enough to do so..).


A Garage Transformation and DIY Workbench | Mrs. Fancee


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