A Workbench's Progress #12: Home Base at Last!

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Blog entry by TheGravedigger posted 07-31-2007 05:41 PM 3102 reads 4 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: The End's in Sight! Part 12 of A Workbench's Progress series no next part

Well, it’s finally done. The workbench base is done and has been mated to the top.

I gave the finished base three coats of finish. The first was equal parts turpentine, BLO, & spar urethane. The next two were just BLO & spar urethane 50:50. All were applied with a rag & then rubbed dry like all finishes of this type. This gave me a good seal for the wood, and gloss wasn’t really a consideration. Yes, I know lots of folk will go for a proper finish, but I’ve already dinged the base a few times just moving it around. It IS a workbench, after all.

We then inverted the base onto the upturned top & checked for any gaps between the top of the legs and the top. There was only one, & I applied a shim to it rather than sand the other five down. I also plan to shim the gap in the foot mentioned in the previous installment.

Once this was done, I drilled the top of each leg to accept a 3/4” oak dowel to a depth of 2”. The dowels were then cut to extend 1” above the top of the leg. These locations were then transferred to the underside of the bench top, which was drilled with 1” holes. This gap was to allow for wood movement, but (hopefully) no play in the top.

Finally, we cleared everything away, set the base in position, and added the top. As hoped, the top slid easily into place on the dowels, but had absolutely no lateral movement once in place. This will make it easy to disassemble the top from the base if I ever need to move the bench. The end product is below:

Completed Base & Top

The 38” total height ended up being perfect. I’ve gotten used to working on “standard height” structures for so long that it felt strange at first. However, I quickly realized that it would save a lot of strain on my back. I highly recommend customizing your bench & counter heights whenever possible if you’re taller or shorter than average.

The 30”w x19”h x23”d spaces between the legs are just begging for a pair of storage cabinets, so I guess that’ll be the next phase of construction. It’ll have to wait awhile, however, while I work out the details of drawer layout & design. Till then, it’s time to clean up the shop.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

12 comments so far

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4329 days

#1 posted 07-31-2007 05:45 PM

Wow! I enjoyed the journey, thanks for sharing and great job!

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4333 days

#2 posted 07-31-2007 07:17 PM

Great bench and posting. You should have many years of productive work on this bench.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View VTWoody's profile


95 posts in 4079 days

#3 posted 07-31-2007 07:20 PM


I love your bench and will be building one in a similar way as soon as my lumber dries out a little more. I have a few questions, though.

1. I may have missed the overall dimensions, but how long is your bench, and with that in mind, did you have any particular reason for adding the the third leg unit?

2. This question is for you and for all those who already have workbenches…Round dogs, or Square, or a combination of the two? And the reasoning behind that choice, of course.

3. Did you offset the locations of the holes on the underside of the bench top, or is it just so heavy that it doesn’t move?

Great work!

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 4046 days

#4 posted 07-31-2007 07:37 PM


The benchtop is 74” long, 26” wide, and 3 1/4” thick. The surface is 38” high to match my 6’4” height. The third leg served two purposes: First, it provided additional support for the spruce top. Despite the thickness, I was afraid the soft spruce would sag over time, making a flat top difficult to maintain. The second was that it would reduce the run of the stretchers, which should cut down on bowing when force was applied along the length of the benchtop (as in planing). This should in turn put less stress on the mortise and tenon joints. The center legs are thicker to allow opposing 2” long tenons.

I used round dogs for one reason – I could easily bore round holes after the top was assembled, & didn’t have to make provisions for square holes during construction. As for which is REALLY better, we’ll have to rely on the experience of those that have had them for a while.

I’m not sure what you mean by “offset”. The 3/4” pegs were inserted into holes in the middle of each leg, and then went into 1” holes in the top. If by “offset” you mean that they were placed to bear against one side of the hole in the top, no. The holes are concentric to the pegs, and theoretically have 1/8” clearance all around. I have experienced no shifting so far. The top weighs about 150 pounds with the vises installed, and the top of the legs were left a little rough, and the top just stays in place.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4019 days

#5 posted 08-02-2007 06:08 AM

You made it to completion! Turned out super!

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

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4116 days

#6 posted 08-05-2007 03:40 PM

Great bench, Gravedigger. Congrats on the completion. What the first project to break it in?

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 4046 days

#7 posted 08-05-2007 06:54 PM

Hmm… not sure yet. I need to make a drill press stand, but my wife wants a movable plant rack (guess who’ll win that one?). For right now, though, I’m putting a lot of energy into finishing the loft over my woodshop area. Those who have seen my shop tour know how much I’ve got left to do. At least now my new Gorilla Gripper makes getting the plywood decking up the ladder a snap!

I figure the drill press stand and (also needed) grinder stand will give me a chance to hone my drawer-building technique prior to doing all the matching drawers needed for the cabinets that will go under the bench.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4116 days

#8 posted 08-09-2007 05:23 AM

I’d be interested in seeing your stand for the drill press. I need to do the same thing. I want to build a some sort of a combination stand for the small drill press, grinder and possibly the planar. Lots of ideas in the noggin’ but nothing on paper. Maybe we should compare notes/ideas?

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Hersh's profile


106 posts in 3737 days

#9 posted 03-26-2008 05:13 PM


I’m new to LJ, and just finished your whole blog. I have to tell you that your story of the workbench is a pleasure to read and ponder. I’m strating a 24’ X 24’ shop and a maple work bench is my first real need when I get moved in.

Really a great job. I love this site. Thank You,

-- Hersh from Port Angeles, WA - Gotta Complete That Project!

View HallTree's profile


5664 posts in 3790 days

#10 posted 03-26-2008 09:03 PM

Very nice, well done.

-- "Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life" Solomon

View jeanmarc's profile


1899 posts in 3738 days

#11 posted 08-02-2008 10:44 PM

Great bench,

-- jeanmarc manosque france

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3695 days

#12 posted 11-28-2009 01:26 AM

Nice workbench!

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