I recommend the plans Bre Pettis put out in the first Make: Weekend Projects podcast back in 2006
1 sheet of 1/2" plywood, standard 4'x8'.
6 2x4s 8' long
40 2 1/2" screws
40 1" screws
The size of things:
Cut the plywood lengthwise into three pieces of 30", 12", and 6", all 8' long..
Leave 2 of the 2x4s 8'.
Cut 2 of the 2x4s to be 4 pieces that are 40"-ish long. If you are taller make them longer. If you are shorter, make them shorter so that the workbench fits you perfectly!
Cut 1 of the 2x4s into 4 sections of 2' each.
With the last 2x4, cut 9" off the end so it will fit as a cross brace across the bottom.
Right-angle ruler thing
Instructions: Put it all together! First cut all the lumber to length as suggested above. Then, I recommend starting upside-down by putting the top face-down and then build the frame that supports the top using the two 8' 2x4s and two 2' 2x4s. Then screw them together at the corners. Add the legs and the 2' support bracing. With the legs screwed on, you can turn it over and add the lower shelf and vertical back edge which adds stability. You're all done! If you are feeling fancy, take it outside and put a protective coating on it to make it shine!
The design makes a nice sturdy bench 8' long, 2.5' deep and ~40" tall with little wasted material. I halved the design to 4' wide and made one for my living room.
Any wood workers have suggestions for sturdy bench designs?