In preparation for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) space mission, the prototype engineering model of the LISA-Pathfinder optical bench instrument has been built and tested. The instrument is the central part of an interferometer whose purpose is to measure the separation of two free-floating test masses in the spacecraft, with required accuracy to a noise level of 10 pm/Hz-1/2 between 3 mHz and 30 mHz. This will allow the spacecraft to achieve drag-free flight control to a similar level, as a demonstration of technology capability for detection of gravitational waves in the later LISA mission. The optical bench design, fabrication, and experimental results are described in detail, with attention to the strategies for building and alignment. These are particularly problematic in this instrument due to restrictions on the allowable materials and devices, the limited size, the tight alignment requirements for interferometry and interfaces, and the challenging environment specification for space flight. The finished optical bench was integrated to the complete optical metrology package for system-level tests, which were successful, both in meeting the metrology accuracy and in environmental testing. This verifies the feasibility of the design and build methods demonstrated here for use in the space-flight version.