Dirt Cheap Workbench Build #1: Gluing up the top & starting the legs

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Blog entry by 12strings posted 01-20-2014 08:32 PM 2051 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Dirt Cheap Workbench Build series Part 2: Apron, Legs, & stretchers. »

Well, I’ve started on my workbench build…I’m going ahead to start writing this blog even though at my pace (a few hours a week), it may take a few more months to finish.

Here’s the general goal…I’m sure it will evolve a bit as I build it:

This bench has a few design parameters that contribute to it’s odd look:
-It has to fit in my small workspace in the corner of the garage, so 5ft is the length.
-I want my Anarchist-style tool chest to roll underneath it when not in use, so that means no front stretcher…the apron will have to compensate in holding it steady from racking.
-I wanted to keep using Pipe-clamps as my twin-screw vise, so holes were made to accomadate for that.
-I plan to use a press-screw for a wagon vise.
-I want the bench to be dirt cheap…that means I hope to spend less than $50 on it, including buying the lumber!

This is the lumber: Three ten-foot 2×10’s from the big box store….

...Stickered to dry a little bit…

Marking the lines for ripping. I ripped it all into thirds (about 3”) except for one 5-foot board that will become the front apron. That equals about 50 feet of ripping…30 feet done by hand-saw (took about an hour), then I got lazy and ripped the last 4 cuts (20 feet worth of cuts) on my cheap table saw (took about 5 minutes once I got the saw set up.

Ohio Tools wooden jointer plane…face-planing the boards for the top glue-up. I completely ignored the rough edges from the rip cuts at this stage, deciding they will be evened out later when I hand-plane the bottom of the top, and the top of the top.

The top Glued up!!! I did this in about 3 stages to get to this point…leaving various gaps and openings in the top will prevent me from having to chop mortises later. Some are for legs, some are for the movable parts of pipe clamps, and some are for over-sized dog holes (1.5×1.5 square). Each Dog will be large, and able to serve as it’s own bench stop, working with or without the wagon vise.

This Picture shows an example of how the pipe-clam-vise will work. The movable part of each clamp will be inserted into the top of the bench, with easy access for adjusting.

Test-fitting 2 of the legs in their mortises. The rear legs were cut at an angle, then I saved the cut-off which will be inserted in the gap created at the top of the bench, serving as a wedge of sorts.

THAT’S WHERE I’M AT SO FAR! Sorry for the Cell-phone quality pictures. Hopefully I’ll get some time to put on the apron, and get the base put together soon.

Thanks for reading!

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

4 comments so far

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1246 posts in 1709 days

#1 posted 01-20-2014 08:51 PM

Looks great. Looking forward to part 2!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View NormG's profile


6111 posts in 2999 days

#2 posted 01-21-2014 04:24 AM

What a start, can’t wait to see more. Better man that I, to use a hand saw that many feet before going power saw

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2268 days

#3 posted 01-21-2014 01:45 PM


Now there’s a story to tell the grandkids.
...I once ripped 30 feet of SYP with a Handsaw,, ...uphill, ...both ways!!!
What were you thinkin’ my man?? ...I’m thinkin’, HEART ATTACK !!! ;-)

We’ve had power saws since before the early 1900’s. It’s no longer in our genes to push a saw that far.

Seriously though, I can appreciate the Hand Tool resurgence, albeit when it takes less time than to set up the power saws and this was ingrained in my tutoring by my Grandfather.

Lovin’ your enthusiasm. – Grandpa Len.
Work Safely and have Fun.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2380 days

#4 posted 01-21-2014 02:28 PM

Thanks for the comments…

Regarding ripping: I actually began trying to use my cheap old table saw for the ripping…but it wasn’t working the blade kept bogging down in the wood, so I gave up and hand ripped what I needed for the top…i happened to have a proper sawbench and a sharp handsaw, so it went pretty well. When it came time to start working on the legs, I went and got a new blade, (the old one was given to me with the saw, and apparently was extremely dull, because the new blade went through the wood like butter).

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

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