woodworking without a woodworkers bench

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Ben Haberer posted 11-19-2012 06:22 PM 8026 reads 1 time favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hey all,

I’m looking for some advice on what to do to clamp down my work for things like sanding, hand planning and chisel work. Everywhere I look on advice on woodworking and the more I learn all I see is woodworkers with sweet custom workbenches with proper vices. Tasks like these are simple and most importantly safe for them because of these benches and vises but my problem is I simply don’t have the room in my very very small shop. I was wondering if there others out there in this same situation without the means to have these types of vices and what you do to properly clamp down your work pieces to work on the safely and easily in a severely limited space. Any advice on the matter would be greatly appreciated!


-- Ben - Dallas, GA

16 comments so far

View hoosier0311's profile


706 posts in 2025 days

#1 posted 11-19-2012 06:28 PM

maybe you could use one of those Black and Decker workmate type dealios? They don’t take up much room and they fold up out of the way.

-- atta boy Clarence!

View Mosquito's profile


9305 posts in 2292 days

#2 posted 11-19-2012 06:33 PM

Yes there are… Self included.

I’ve used quite a few different things, from hand to power tools. I’ve got a work mate, and a folding table that are my primary means of a “work bench” for now. I’ve also used a sitting bench with a clamp as a planing stop as well. There are ways, you just have to get creative, and sometimes think outside of the “normal” approach…

Get creative, but most importantly, if it doesn’t feel right or safe, it probably isn’t.

One of my favorite things to do is clamp parallel bar clamps to the folding table, and clamp the table to the porch beam

Used this with my router

Sometimes I use two tables, if I have to make a cut in the middle of a piece (jigsaw)

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Ben Haberer's profile

Ben Haberer

26 posts in 2048 days

#3 posted 11-19-2012 07:06 PM

Thanks Mos those are quite a few nice ideas, I’m really going to need to play around with a few ideas to find something that works for me and I think I might have to try out one of those workmates, I think that may work good for me. But the best piece of advice is “if it doesn’t feel right or safe, it probably isn’t.” I feel this all the time and I’m sure there are plenty of times I should have stopped and I didn’t, I really need to be more careful

-- Ben - Dallas, GA

View Fireguy's profile


132 posts in 3235 days

#4 posted 11-19-2012 07:40 PM

How about a woodworking bench from Harbor Freight?

-- Alex

View David's profile


198 posts in 2663 days

#5 posted 11-19-2012 07:44 PM

A pair of sturdy saw horses, some plywood, and a few sand bags for weight would be my solution. I’ve also used a pair of trash cans with plywood on top, but I don’t recommend it.

-- Perilous to all of us are the devices of an art deeper than we ourselves possess. --Gandalf the Grey

View JoeRPhilly's profile


172 posts in 2152 days

#6 posted 11-19-2012 08:22 PM

I’ve gotten by so far with just a workmate, certainly not ideal, but you can make it work if you want. The biggest problem with the workmate that I’ve found is the lack of weight to it, it’s hard to keep it stable. But it will hold your work, and you just need to get creative to hold the workmate! That said, using that as my workbench has driven me to build a real wood working bench.

View Ben Haberer's profile

Ben Haberer

26 posts in 2048 days

#7 posted 11-19-2012 08:31 PM

ok so here’s the question for those of you using the workmate. Do you use two of them or is just one? If you only use one do you wish you had two to lay large pieces across two tables? Or would having one be all you need along with a saw horse until you can eventually upgrade to a real workbench?

-- Ben - Dallas, GA

View Mosquito's profile


9305 posts in 2292 days

#8 posted 11-19-2012 08:37 PM

I’ve just got one. I could see how two might make some things easier, but when I’m working with larger stock, I’m typically hand planing it, in which case, I usually need to hold the workmate down with a foot, leg, or something. The other issue I have from time to time is it likes to wobble, a lot, when hand planing.

For cutting, I would recommend building a saw bench… It makes things a lot easier.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View johnnysilvey's profile


6 posts in 2032 days

#9 posted 11-19-2012 11:44 PM

I’ve had the same problem, making do with with a small saw horse can be tricky. Paul Sellers has an awesome video series where he makes a tool bench in his back yard with a couple saw horses, with the purpose being you don’t actually have a workbench yet. Hoping for this to be my spring project.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18717 posts in 2567 days

#10 posted 11-19-2012 11:56 PM

You can also just screw into you benchtop surface, what ever that happens to be. A portable screw gun and a handful of screws, along with some pieces of scrap makes for some pretty versatile clamping.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Raymond Thomas's profile

Raymond Thomas

189 posts in 2218 days

#11 posted 11-20-2012 01:02 AM

If you happen to have an opening along a wall in you shop, you might want to make a fold down workbench that is permanently mounted to the wall by means of a couple of hinges and a couple of folding legs so that you can pull the work bench up parallel to the floor, unfold the legs and you have a stable work bench.

-- Raymond, Charlotte, NC -------- Demonstrate the difference!

View Rob Drown's profile

Rob Drown

789 posts in 3833 days

#12 posted 11-20-2012 02:18 AM

I took a class at the local JC and used their shop, tools and benches to build my bench. Lot of folks took classes to build projects. Local colleges or craft centers or woodworking clubs my help you. Ask around. Us old guys enjoy helping younguns get started.

-- The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. Confucius, 经过艰苦的努力的梦想可以成真

View MT_Stringer's profile


3168 posts in 3231 days

#13 posted 11-20-2012 02:51 AM

@Ben – maybe this little guy would help you. I made this after seeing it in ShopNotes. LJ’s very own Serge made the original. It is a very handy work table and very portable. Bench dogs, clamps, whatever you need you can use on this thing.

My project is here.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Cole Tallerman's profile

Cole Tallerman

392 posts in 2185 days

#14 posted 11-20-2012 03:13 AM

bench cookies work great for me. just put them under a cutting board or anything else to sand or plane and its not going anywhere.

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3462 days

#15 posted 11-20-2012 03:20 AM

An old door on a couple of saw horses is what I had used for years.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

showing 1 through 15 of 16 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics