My journey in workbench design #3: More thoughts on Workbench Design

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Blog entry by Mike Lingenfelter posted 01-09-2008 03:03 AM 2587 reads 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Final Sketchup Images Part 3 of My journey in workbench design series Part 4: Sources for Large Wooden Screws »

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to which bench design would work best for me. I still like the first bench I designed, based on a Frank Klausz style bench with a few modifications. As I started to think about building the bench I knew it was going to be ambitious, in skill and time. I went back to the drawing board so to speak. I reviewed all of the information I had gathered in my workbench research. One bench started to standout and it was the Holtzapffel bench, which Christopher Schwarz had built. It was always one of the top choices when I started this quest. Somehow it got pushed to back of my mind. It really is a simpler design, yet still very functional. It will more than meet the requirements for the type of projects I will be working on.

I drew it up with large wooden screws for the face vise. I’m not sure if I will go with wooden screws yet, I’m still researching that. I can always go with metal screws if the price is too high for wooden screws. I’m still enamored with the Wagon Vise. I really only see the tail vise being used to clamp flat boards between the dogs. In my mind the Wagon Vise does that very well. It’s also pretty easy to work into the bench, and should be very cheap to buy the parts.

I thought about adding a toolwell to the bench, but in the end I chose not to add one. I did include a simple tool rack to the back of the bench. I designed it so that I could easily remove it, if it doesn’t work out.

Here are some Sketchup drawings of the bench. I left off some of the details in the drawings, it would’ve take too much time to draw it all in.








11 comments so far

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3759 days

#1 posted 01-09-2008 03:19 AM

Nice looking design. I’m planning my bench too, so it’s very cool to see what someone else is doing on just such a project.

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4077 days

#2 posted 01-09-2008 03:22 AM

There are a few workbench blogs here on LJ. Do a search and you will find some others.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3925 days

#3 posted 01-09-2008 04:55 AM

Each bench must fit it’s owner. I build my new bench last summer to suit me and it does very well. I’m very pleased with the result. I hope you will be as well, Mike.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4077 days

#4 posted 01-09-2008 05:16 AM

Yes, benches can be a personal thing. I’ve built a couple over the past couple of years, and I think I’m narrowing in on what will work for me. I hope this will be last one for awhile.

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 3960 days

#5 posted 01-09-2008 06:27 AM

Looks good – how would the top be attached to the base?

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View gizmodyne's profile


1776 posts in 4053 days

#6 posted 01-09-2008 07:23 AM

Looks good. You might think about putting a second set of rails at the top of the base.Then you can attach the top. It would add stability to the base otherwise the it seems like the top could rack in several directions with force applied.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4077 days

#7 posted 01-09-2008 04:49 PM

I should have done an exploded view of the bench. The legs use mortise and tenons to attach to the top, and eachother. I thought about adding stretchers around the top, but the original design didn’t have them. It’s still a possibility for me. I’ll try and add an exploded view of the bench tonight when I get home. The bench also uses drawbore pins to secure the tenons. This is one of the details I didn’t put on the drawing, along with the bench dog holes. Also not included on the drawing is board that runs along the end of the left side of the bench. This board can move up and down and works as bench stop.

View johnjoiner's profile


160 posts in 3856 days

#8 posted 01-09-2008 07:01 PM

Hi Mike.

Nice sketchup drawings.

I just finished Schwarz’s workbench book. Excellent stuff if you haven’t seen that yet. I keep going back and forth between Holtzapffel and Roubo. I’m also really enamored with the wagon vise. For some reason that really appeals to me.

On your drawing you have the bread-board-like end capping the right end where the wagon vise is. I don’t think you need that. Schwarz added that to his bench because he retrofitted the top with the wagon vise. I think if you build that vise in during the initial construction it’ll be fine without the end cap. Just one less piece to simplify this wonderfully simple design.

For those who haven’t seen the book, or the magazines with Schwarz’s bench designs in them, the key thing that doesn’t show in these drawings is the massive scale of the few parts. The top is 4” or more thick, and the legs are, iirc, 5” x 5”. So with some good pegged mortise and tenons these are timber-frame structures.

-- johnjoiner

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4077 days

#9 posted 01-09-2008 08:21 PM


I also assumed the massive scale of the legs and top is why there were no top stretchers. It was something I was going to keep in the back of mind when it came time to build the bench.

I added the end cap piece to the drawing as a reminder to me, to consider the construction of the Wagon Vise. I think you are right, it might not be needed if worked in correctly.

A few more thinks for those interested.
A video Demo of the bench by ChrisS
A Blog by ChrisS
Also, if you search Chris’s blog you will find many other articles on the Holtzapffel bench.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3951 days

#10 posted 01-10-2008 02:20 AM

I like some of your ideas, but it’s too late for me.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4077 days

#11 posted 01-10-2008 04:04 AM

I added a couple exploded views for those of you that are interested.

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