Dirt Cheap Workbench Build #3: Vices, End caps, and flattening

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Blog entry by 12strings posted 02-27-2014 12:51 PM 4141 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Apron, Legs, & stretchers. Part 3 of Dirt Cheap Workbench Build series no next part

So I’ve decided to use 2 pipe clamps for the face vise, and a veneer press screw for the wagon vise.

FACE VISE: EARLIER IN THE BUILD, I drilled two holes all the way through the bench from front to back, and durring the glue-up, left spaces for the movable parts of the pipe clamps to be inserted. In use, I can make large movements in the vise by releasing the clamps from the top. Those spaces can fill with shavings, but I can pull them out with my fingers, and if need be, easily pull out the front of the vise and let the small piece drop out to clear the space. I also drilled a series of holes in the apron to serve as additional supports for large boards. So if I was jointing the edge of this 3 ft maple board, I would have 2 options: Face vise alone, or have it lower using the peg holes. The vise chop is a piece of hard maple laminated onto a piece of walnut. (It’s what I had lying around).

WAGON VISE & END CAPS: I also left space during the top glue-up for the wagon vise. I then glued on 2 guide runners, and made a matching block of wood to slide between them holding a dog hole or two. I drilled and rasped a hole in the right end-cap to hold the support for the veneer screw.
—> The end caps are an important part of the wagon vise system, as they need to resist a lot of pressure. SO Here’s what I did…it may be overkill: (1) groove the end cap to match the large tongue on the end of the bench. (2) Cut a large dovetail at each corner of the bench to resist the outward forces. After sliding the end-cap piece forward into it’s dovetail joint in the apron… (3) Insert 2 bolts in each end-cap in oversized holes to allow for movement. (with space for the nut bored out under the bench…see pic). (4) finally, bore a 1/2 hole down through the entirety of each dovetail joint and drive in a 1/2 dowell (no glue). These dowells can be driven out later for dissasembly/repair to the wagon vise, etc. The back piece for holding the tool well is attached the same way with pinned dovetails.
—> the last pic you can see the wagon vise in use…sorry the board is the same wood as the bench, so it’s hard to see.

FLATTENING: I flattenend the top using mostly this wooden Jack plane with a heavy camber, and then my wooden jointer plane. You may remember that I didnt’ plane the edges of my top boards before gluing them up, so they were still all rough-cut, and fairly uneven, so I ended up removing up to 1/4” at some places. It turned out well, but it was a lot of work, and I could probably mulch a small flowerbed with the shavings.

HERE’S THE BENCH AS IT STANDS NOW: Still need to make and insert the bottom of the tool well, make a few more of my over-sized bench dogs, and perhaps finish the whole thing…I put a coat of tung oil on the top, the apron, and the face vise. You can also see how the bench design allows me to roll my tool chest underneath when its not being used. This was important because a car needs to be parked in this garage sometimes too. Thanks for looking!


3 syp 2X10X10FT BOARDS: $33
3/4” dowel: $3
1/2” dowel: $2
4 Bolts & Nuts & washers: $4
Veneer press screw: ($15…but I got it for Christmas)
Pipe clamps: ($30 total for clamps and pipes, but I bought those years ago)
Screws: Not sure, but I had enough lying around.
Maple & Walnut for face vise: Free
Plywood for tool well: Free scraps (not attached yet)

TOTAL COST TO ME: $42!!! :-)

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

6 comments so far

View GrandpaLen's profile


1651 posts in 2447 days

#1 posted 02-27-2014 01:50 PM

$42.00 for a Solid Woodworking Bench???!!

Life is Good!!
Nicely appointed and well executed.

Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len.

-- 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 natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 1971 days

#2 posted 02-27-2014 04:28 PM

I’m thinking I might just steal this idea.

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2558 days

#3 posted 02-27-2014 05:20 PM

The rear legs are splayed, but even so, It needed some more low weight to prevent front to back tipping, so I have some concrete blocks hidden behind the back legs to prevent that. It doesn’t rack at all, but the entire thing is, of course, fairly small, so i also put non-slip pads under the legs so it wouldn’t move. As it is now it is quite stable. It is also tall at 36”, and I may cut it down lower after working on it a while.

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

View stefang's profile


16063 posts in 3508 days

#4 posted 02-27-2014 05:28 PM

A great bench that is bound to serve you well. It just proves that with a little creativity, even a really good bench can be made very cheaply.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Grumpymike's profile


2317 posts in 2489 days

#5 posted 02-27-2014 06:56 PM

‘Ya gotta love it …

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View waho6o9's profile


8481 posts in 2751 days

#6 posted 02-27-2014 09:00 PM

Great work bench 12 strings, good job.

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