Workshop Make-Over #1: Workbench Update

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Blog entry by Tony posted 07-04-2007 05:21 PM 1685 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Workshop Make-Over series Part 2: Current Shop Layout »

I have some spare time between projects, so I have decided to make some long-needed changes to the workshop. This short series will log the events as they have and as they happen.

The first thing that needed to be done, which I started some time at the beginning of May, was to update the work bench. The drawer system I am still not happy with for the following reasons.

1. When working at the bench, I tend to leave the drawer open partially (bad habit) and the drawers tend to fill with sawdust.
2. The drawer containing my planes and scrapers has become too full – but even with only the hand planes in the draw – it is too heavy and does not slide that easily – it really needs some full extension runners, but the design does not allow for this. – I have tries various things to make the drawers slide easier, but only the reduction in weight works.
3. I am getting older and the drawers are getting too low and all the constant bending is not doing my back much good.

I will update the tool storage system sometime in the near future, but not in this make over.
The update to the bench is a new work surface/Top. The old one I made about 3 years ago, but it was a lamination of different materials- it stayed nice and flat, but the actual work surface was made from Alder (that’s all I could get at the time) and it was definitely too soft. I could have skimmed the top ½” off and re-surfaced it, with a harder wood, but then I would have all the trouble with realigning the “bench dog” holes so I decided to make a new top.

The new top is made from 8/4 Beech, the dimensions are exactly the same as the old one (2m x 0.86m {76 ¾ “ x 34” } . There are a couple of pieces of White Oak and Birch, but these are from the vices, I did not want to remake these as they were in good condition (I remade these in April).
I also reduced the number of bench dog holes (round) – hopefully less sawdust will fall into the storage space beneath the workbench.

The top was surfaced machine planed, then glued together. The final levelling was hand planed and scraped – and finally had hand sanded down to 120g to remove the shine.
The top is finished with 2 coats of poly, thinned with 40% White Spirit (mineral spirit) and a thin coat of paste wax. I just wanted some protection against glue spillage or stain.

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The new workbench top

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Just another view of the work bench and part of the layout of the current shop.

Part 2 will be the table saw Upgrade.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

12 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


13753 posts in 4062 days

#1 posted 07-04-2007 05:54 PM

The bench looks great Tony. I’m looking forward to seeing your solution for storing planes. I’ve been kicking quite a few ideas in my head for how I am going to address them.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4264 days

#2 posted 07-04-2007 06:10 PM

A great looking bench. I have the same problem with my bench dog holes. My drawers get messed up. I was thinking of gluing a strip of wood underneath them.
Thanks for sharing.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4001 days

#3 posted 07-04-2007 10:02 PM

The top looks great, Tony!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4141 days

#4 posted 07-04-2007 11:14 PM

Very nice, Tony. I love the look of the bench and the overall look of the shop layout. It looks super clean – is this normal?

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 4051 days

#5 posted 07-05-2007 03:17 AM

Nice job Tony. I’d kill to have your shop. I like how all the surfaces work together.

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 3989 days

#6 posted 07-05-2007 03:45 AM

Nice bench top. Having just completed one myself, I can appreciate the work involved. I’m still in the concept phase of my under-bench storage design, and envisioned something similar to your setup. I’m anxious to hear your insights on you intended changes, as I’d rather not make similar mistakes if I can avoid it.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4103 days

#7 posted 07-05-2007 08:56 PM

Tony – Great looking bench! I am enjoying your posts on your shop. Thanks!


View Tony's profile


983 posts in 3995 days

#8 posted 07-05-2007 10:14 PM


Don – Yes, I clean the place during the day and at the end of the day where possible. Every Sunday, I spend an hour with the respirator on and an air hose – I blow all the dust of the shelves and machines. I have to keep it clean, it is such a small place, I cannot work in a mess or clutter. It also means that a clean workshop is a safer working environment.

Bob – I should be posting the next part tomorrow, where the worktops are finished.

Robert – I think the original text covers most of the pitfalls of the tool storage under the bench – When I do change it will be for a wall mounted tool cabinet.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3953 days

#9 posted 07-05-2007 10:38 PM

Great bench top. I love Beech for things like that.

Beech also steam bends really great, and when sanded with a real fine grit and then buffed it will shine.

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

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4275 days

#10 posted 07-08-2007 06:34 AM

Fantastic! Great looking bench top.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4042 days

#11 posted 05-18-2009 05:27 AM

this is a beautiful set up…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View a1Jim's profile


117062 posts in 3542 days

#12 posted 05-18-2009 05:36 AM

Nice job looks great. Hey tony if your really board My shop really could use some of that great work.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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