Workbench #2: The internet is great

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Blog entry by HungryTermite posted 03-05-2010 07:30 AM 2263 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Entering the Design Phase Part 2 of Workbench series Part 3: Tail Vise Mockup »

Let’s see, I haven’t really written any blog posts lately because I have been bogged down with work and grad school part deux. However, since I spend almost every waking minute not spent on those other things thinking about my workbench project as well as many countless hours on the CAD system, I thought it might be time to update some of my thinking on the design features I am thinking about as well as mention something I thought was really cool.

Internet is cool moment #1. This isn’t really a big deal but it made be happy today so what the heck. I’ve been reading Chris Schwarz’ blog lately as a result of reading his books and deciding I really enjoy his writing style as well as feel that I could learn a thing or two from him. I also check out his podcasts from Popular Woodworking. Well, I left a comment on his blog yesterday about the new workbench he is building. Today in my email I found a reply! It was a brief comment on my comment that proved that what I had been thinking about for my own bench wasn’t as crazy as I thought it might seem, and that Chris seems to be every bit as nice as his writing would imply.

Internet is cool moment #2. There is a rediculous amount of information on the internet on building Roubo style workbenches. I have found a few in particular to be extremely helpful and I think without them that my bench design would not be as nice as it seems to be. I really enjoy the blog at the Khalaf Oud Luthiery (KOL) and think I learned a great deal about some of the joinery by reading his blog. That along with some of the project blogs on this site have helped immensely.

One annoyance I have come across is that it really seems like it takes a bench to make a bench. I almost wish I had a bench so I could go build a bench. Every blog or video or book I have seen shows the subject workbench being built on a finished workbench. I plan to build mine either on the floor or on some saw horses, but I am not sure how easy it will be to plane boards down on a pair of saw horses. I suppose that depends on how sturdy the horses are.

I don’t have any images prepared yet (I will have them in my next post) but here is a list of things I have settled on or am thinking about settling on for the workbench:

  • I am going to go with a leg vise and I also plan to add roller wheels and some bearings similar to the benchcrafted glide leg vise. I was already thinking of something along those lines when I saw the blog at the KOL and loved his design. I have already purchased a vise screw from Lee Valley that seems like it will work nicely.
  • I decided to include a tail vise (wagon vise) similar to the design in Tim Landis’ book. I apologize but I do not remember who was credited with the design in the book. It will be some sort of hybrid between that one and what the folks at benchcrafted did with their tail vise. I have my design almost complete and I think all the hardware can be found rather cheaply. With the design I have laid out I can clamp anything flat to the top from 4 inches to 90 inches long and I can clamp up to a 2×10 vertically in the hole.
  • I am going to make the legs out of 6×6 Douglas Fir posts.
  • I am very close to deciding to make the top out of 2 pieces of 6×14 Douglas Fir so I only have 1 glue line and don’t have to laminate the top. It will be very similar to what Chris S. is doing with his new bench. I don’t mind the extra thickness and the lumber isn’t that much more expensive but it will save me a lot of grief since I don’t have a planer or jointer or any friends who have one.
  • I purchased the grammercy holdfasts and so I plan to have lots of 3/4” round holes in the top so I can place them everywhere.
  • As a result of wanting to use holdfasts anywhere and also partly because I don’t think I am going to laminate the top, my bench dogs will live in round holes. I bought a 3/4” auger bit to drill the holes which should work well in the Douglas Fir because it will be a little green.
  • I am thinking about putting a dog hole in the top of the chop on the leg vise as well as a row of holes between the left legs. I havent seen anyone do that so I don’t know if it is a good or bad idea but I have seen people do it with other styles of vises.
  • I am working on what will hopefully be a clever idea on how to make the bench mobil. I don’t want it sitting on wheels full time but I need to be able to move it around the garage so we can still part in it.
  • I am investigating putting rollers and a track on the bench so the sliding deadman can be a rolling deadman.
  • I am going to add a crotchet just to see what I think. If I don’t like it I can always take it off.
  • I am going to add the planing stop. If I don’ like it I can figure out something to put in the hole.
  • The bench will be built with bolts on the legs so I can take it apart. I only rent my apartment now and will need to move it at least once. I am going to probably use a through tenon dovetail on the top.

I think that is about it. I am almost done with my CAD model and can then start making some drawings and taking some pictures and procuring the rest of the hardware. I am going to try to buy all the hardware I need before starting so I have everything planned out. I am going to be trying some joinery I have never done before so I want to have step by step plans laid out.

Oh yeah, at some point I will need to buy some wood too. :)

-- Good Judgement Comes From Experience. Experience Comes From Bad Judgement.

5 comments so far

View Derek Lyons's profile

Derek Lyons

584 posts in 3561 days

#1 posted 03-05-2010 08:32 AM

Check out Marc Spagnuolo’s video on prepping sawhorse for building an assembly table – might give you an idea or two.

Clicky Linky.

-- Derek, Bremerton WA --

View JohnnyW's profile


83 posts in 3024 days

#2 posted 03-05-2010 12:18 PM

You’ve put an impressive amount of thought and planning into this bench. I look forward to seeing your progress.

Have you read brklnguy's blog on builing his roubo in his apartment? He planed his top on the floor in his living room, so he might have some useful advice for you.

-- John

View DoctorDan's profile


281 posts in 3008 days

#3 posted 03-05-2010 12:35 PM

If it helps benchcrafted uses these wheels:
I tried to get my hands on them without success.

-- Daniel -

View DoctorDan's profile


281 posts in 3008 days

#4 posted 03-05-2010 12:36 PM

when are we going to see some pics

-- Daniel -

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3319 days

#5 posted 03-05-2010 01:11 PM

I know what you mean by “it takes a bench to build a bench”. When you have little time, it makes the process really long.

I bought a router table so that, some day, I can make a nice router table. At my pace I would have waited years…

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