The Workbench Quest #1: The saga begins...

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Blog entry by GhostOfSidHartman posted 07-25-2009 09:36 PM 2116 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of The Workbench Quest series Part 2: Heavy Lifting »

Well, after much searching and procrastinating and general “making do”, I realize I need a real workbench. Now, SWMBO and I are planning on building a new place on 30 acres in the next few years, at which time she will have a nice big stable for her hayburners, and I will get a real workshop.

Not going to hold my breathe on that one though—it’s going to take a bit of time to figure out the details on that, so I know it will be more than 1-2 years before I have my own workshop!

Until then, I have been puttering around out of one stall of our garage. It does the job, but constantly having to move things around to get to other tools gets tedious. And there never seems to be enough flat surface to set things down.

I know that the first law of woodworking is you can never have too many clamps, but the first corollary to that has to be that you can never have too many flat surfaces.

So anyway, I don’t want to start anything like a Roubo or any bench with a hardwood top at this point, because…well, I can’t see myself actually finishing a project of that magnitude out of a single garage stall. After searching through many magazines, books, and on-line sources I’ve finally settled on a design that should work for a first real workbench. ShopNotes #89 (“Build a $100 Rock-Solid Workbench” it says on the cover!) should be just right – a workbench you can build without a workbench!! I also considered Tom Caspar’s “Workbench in a Weekend” (Woodwork, October 1996) but in the end decided I didn’t want to deal with the torsion box construction at this point – the base on the ShopNotes design seems a bit simpler to construct.

Tip Of The Hat to for all the links to Tom Caspar’s design and many other interesting links.

I have decided to incorporate the hand screw tail vise idea into the ShopNotes bench, so I will need to make the aprons a bit deeper, and I also hope to bring the corners of the edging around the MDF top together with dovetails instead of mitering them.

I’ve got the basic design all Sketched-Up (Sketch-Uped?) and a cut list ready, so it’s off to the BORG to purchase some future sawdust. Will try to keep you all posted.

Will probably attach Sketch-Up file later, after further refinement, putting in dovetails and vises, etc. Current file is merely to determine lengths/widths for cutlist – it ain’t real purty.

-- The beatings will continue until morale improves.

6 comments so far

View Cantputjamontoast's profile


416 posts in 2855 days

#1 posted 07-25-2009 09:58 PM

I’ll be watching this and hoping to learn

all the best to you.

-- "Not skilled enough to wipe jam on toast!"

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 3176 days

#2 posted 07-25-2009 10:18 PM

Might I suggest that you split the difference. Build something like the Roubo/Holtzapffel base and then the SN top. You then could come back later and build the matching top and you could use the current top to build the new top.

The reason? The lumber for the base will not put you out much more than the origanal base and it is reusable later on…...

Just my two cents….


-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View PineInTheAsh's profile


404 posts in 2690 days

#3 posted 07-25-2009 10:49 PM

Building new on 30 acres, and a real workshop!!
Sounds like exciting times for you and family.

I opened Tom Caspar’s link you furnished and the torsion box is a fabulous idea. Beautiful gem of a bench. One thing…on the page 1 picture, what is that long curved arm on the front right side of the bench? A beautiful holdfast? I’ve never seen anything like that before. Do you know how it works? The article does not seem to explain it. I would like to make one.


View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 2999 days

#4 posted 07-26-2009 03:20 AM

sounds like the start of something good

-- Custom furniture

View Splinterman's profile


23066 posts in 2783 days

#5 posted 07-26-2009 01:06 PM

Hey Three fingers,
30 acres……...sounds like a lot of fun for the future..well done.

View GhostOfSidHartman's profile


6 posts in 2698 days

#6 posted 07-26-2009 05:39 PM

PineInTheAsh – I just assumed it was a table leg or something he was working on to demonstrate the clever end vise.

3fingerpat – Hope this isn’t too disappointing, but I’m also a big baseball fan, and chose the moniker in honor of the HOF pitcher Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown. His pitching hand was injured in a farm accident as a child, and reinjured before it had a chance to heal – partial amputation of a couple of digits. Threw a wicked curve/slider, probably because of the injury. Known as Three Finger Brown. Seemed like a nice way to tie two interests together. I actually still have all my digits, and I hope to keep it that way!

sIKE – I actually had that thought, but then told myself “Hey, nothing wrong with two workbenches, right?”

Thx for the comments – hope to make some sawdust today!

-- The beatings will continue until morale improves.

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