Hand Tool Journey #5: More Bench Progress

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Blog entry by Blake posted 10-20-2009 09:47 PM 2358 reads 2 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Building a Work Bench Part 5 of Hand Tool Journey series Part 6: Stanley No. 62 Low Angle Jack »

Once I had my two larger bench sections glued up I ran them through the planer…

And chopped the ends square

I used my biscuit jointer to align the two laminated “slabs,” since after this glue up it will be too big to run through my thickness planer:

Two slabs glued up:

And now glued up with the tool tray:


I spent $18.00 on 4×6 and 2×6 Doug Fir for the base at Home Depot:

A little shaping of the feet on the bandsaw, and oak pads added:

Mortise cut on the RAS (I do it this way because it is fast)

Leg assembly:

The assembled base (screws and glue… but the screws are well hidden)

A little preview of the whole thing together with the huge old Craftsman vice from the flea market:

By the way, the base alone is MASSIVE. It will weigh a ton with the solid oak top sitting on it.

The top will still get wide edges that wrap around all four sides. This will give the sides more surface area as well as make the top look more substantial (the base won’t look so disproportionately huge.)

I haven’t decided whether to stain or paint the base (maybe black?)... or leave it natural. I think something darker would look nice and de-emphasize the fact that I used construction-grade lumber.

Any thoughts?

Also, what kind of finish do I use on the oak top? Just oil?

-- Happy woodworking!

14 comments so far

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8810 posts in 3187 days

#1 posted 10-20-2009 10:00 PM

Just oil it. The top will be really easy to care for if all you do is keep it oiled.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Cory's profile


750 posts in 2507 days

#2 posted 10-20-2009 10:04 PM

I think that a black or dark stain would look really cool on the bottom. It will definitely make the top look larger, too.

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

View dbhost's profile


5426 posts in 2319 days

#3 posted 10-20-2009 10:23 PM

For a finish I would go BLO / Wax and call it good. Why hide the base under paint just because there are a couple of knots? Consider them character and move on. It is a workbench after all, and not a china hutch…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2703 posts in 2374 days

#4 posted 10-20-2009 11:13 PM

I was surprised to see the Dewalt radial arm saw in one of your pictures. I grew up using one like it in my dad’s shop. And yes, that was a long time ago! I think my brother may still have it. Brings back old memories, some of them actually good.


By the way—Nice bench (And I would use oil on the top, and maybe stain the base darker and then oil it too)

-- She thought I hung the moon--now she just thinks I did it wrong

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8810 posts in 3187 days

#5 posted 10-20-2009 11:32 PM

I simply oiled the legs of my workbench, that is the one that acts as an out feed for my tablesaw. It is 4”x4” doug fir and looks like yours.

Over time the legs have turned dark and they look great. They have been dinged and dented but there is no film finish to flake off.

I have also splattered them with paint or finish and I just used a rag dampened with solvent to wipe them off.

A card scraper is used to scrape off dried stuff and I apply more oil. Taking care couldn’t be easier.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13347 posts in 2760 days

#6 posted 10-21-2009 01:14 AM

Looks great, Blake.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2909 days

#7 posted 10-21-2009 02:18 AM

Blake, this bench certainly is looking pretty good. It is an inspiration for me to get in the shop and get started on one of my own.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View stefang's profile


14932 posts in 2422 days

#8 posted 10-21-2009 10:01 PM

Hey Blake a dark color for your base will show dust pretty easy. If you want to paint it I would suggest a lighter color. Some of those Shaker benches I’ve seen with painted bases look great to me. It also give the shop a nice atmosphere. I’ve got a lot of painted stuff in my shop and I really like it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Tony's profile


978 posts in 3118 days

#9 posted 10-22-2009 06:22 PM

Do not hide the natural beauty of the wood, let nature take its course – Fir takes a lovely patina quite quickly – maybe some oil or wax to help prevent splashes of stain or paint spoiling the wood too much – whats the difference between construction grade Fir and Fir that you have cut your self? apart from the cost

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View a1Jim's profile


113822 posts in 2665 days

#10 posted 10-22-2009 06:48 PM

Looks super sturdy good job

-- Custom furniture

View bfd's profile


502 posts in 2894 days

#11 posted 10-24-2009 08:18 PM


This is looking great. I am on the fence about painting the base. I think painting it black would look very cool & unique but at the same time leaving with just some oil as Todd and others have mentioned would look great too. Equally impressive as the build is the budget at which you are building this bench. What are the overall dimensions of the bench?

View Blake's profile


3442 posts in 2962 days

#12 posted 10-25-2009 12:15 AM

About 2’ by 4’

I’m gonna paint it black. Don’t worry, it will look good.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3027 days

#13 posted 10-25-2009 01:24 AM

Blake says, ”Don’t worry, it will look good.

For some that might be bragging. However, Blake, it’s a natural consequence of your work. I cannot imagine you leaving even a workbench plain and unadorned. You’ve got a great eye and your work always looks good. This bench is no exception.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Blake's profile


3442 posts in 2962 days

#14 posted 10-25-2009 03:23 AM

Thanks, man.

-- Happy woodworking!

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