My Workbench #3: Getting Close to Being Done

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Blog entry by Jimi_C posted 08-24-2009 03:12 PM 1911 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: First Glue Up Part 3 of My Workbench series Part 4: Phase 1 Nearly Complete »

If I never have to cut MDF again, it will be too soon… Unfortunately I’m going to have to trim the edges of the MDF with my router, since I decided to be sloppy and clean it up that way rather than try to make perfect cuts with my circular saw (not likely). At least all the sheets are cut, so I’ll probably take these outside when I’m trimming so I don’t spend another hour vacuuming my garage.

Overall, things are getting close to wrapping up, for the primary part of the bench anyway. I will have to add the dog hole front later, but I should have the main structure of the bench complete in another day or so. Here’s an action shot of me (courtesy of my wife) creating the outer frame for the torsion box that makes up the center of the base:


The blue Irwin clamp is holding a piece of scrap to the board butting up against the side. This kept the boards flush while the speed square with c-clamps held the two boards together at a right angle for pre-drilling and screwing. This seemed to work pretty well, as I was only about 1/16” out of square for every box I built this way – way better than the 1/4” I was off for the top box.

So all the boxes are done, just waiting to glue the MDF panels on. Here’s one leg, you can just barely see some scrap I glued to the face of the MDF panel – I did that for reinforcement of the MDF where the threaded rods go through. I was afraid the bolt/washer would rip through the MDF if tightened too much.


You can also see I laminated two 1×4s for the leg top and bottom. I wanted to have plenty of support for the lag bolts to go through the top as well as for the feet.

Here is the center of the base with the holes drilled through it for the threaded rods:

Center of base with holes

And here is the one completed leg (next to my new pipe clamps):

Completed leg

My plan tonight is to complete the glue-up of the other leg, and then the base center. Once everything’s glued, I’ll trim off all the excess bits of MDF hanging over edges. Finally, I’ll drill the holes in the sides to assemble the base, and then attach the top.

I bought a face vise, but it’s a bit small at 6” (only cost $30 on ebay after shipping), so I haven’t decided if I’ll just use it and bolt in some over-sized boards to make it bigger, or if I’ll just disassembled the whole thing and use the mechanism to create a bigger face vise. I also haven’t decided if I’m going to create the tail vise the way Tom Caspar did it (using a Jorgenson handscrew), but I probably will in the end.

Finally, I’ve used a lot less material than I thought I would. I bought 18 8’ 1×4’s, and I’ve got 4 left so far. All told, that means for wood I’ve got less than $100 in material for this workbench. I also bought an extra sheet of MDF (assuming I was going to make lots of mistakes), but it doesn’t look like I’ll need it. I may build a 4’x4’ torsion-top assembly table out of the scraps, so we’ll see what’s left at the end.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

3 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3066 days

#1 posted 08-24-2009 03:39 PM

looks good, the design seems interesting. definitely waiting for the next steps to see how it all comes together.

as for cutting the MDF ON-THE-LINE to avoid routing – don’t sweat it, you made the right decision, since sometimes, things get out of square, and sometimes things get cut slightly smaller, so by leaving yourself with room to spare, and routing the MDF to the exact size at hand you’ll be left with a good flush looking piece, as opposed to a ‘tad-too-small’, or a misaligned cut.

make sure you wear a GOOD dust mask when working with MDF – it creates nasty (as you should already know) dust that does NOT clean easily- but lingers in the air, and stays in the work space for months. a good dust collection setup is crucial when working MDF – or , work outside, and make sure all doors are closed, and blow the dust away when you’re done – you do NOT want this dust to follow you inside after all is said and done.

good luck! looks like great progress.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View a1Jim's profile


115167 posts in 2995 days

#2 posted 08-24-2009 05:19 PM

Looks like good progress look forward to more photos

-- Custom furniture

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 2652 days

#3 posted 08-24-2009 08:10 PM

@PurpLev: The design is one of the things I liked about this table. 4 torsion boxes – that’s it. Seemed simple enough, and with the bill of materials being 1x and sheet stock with no special tools required I was sold on it. I had my garage door open with fans going, so the dust settled or was blown out pretty quick, just messy and a pain. Don’t think any got in the house though, I will definitely be trimming these up outside, as a quick test run showed me the router pretty much just vaporizes the MDF on contact.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

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