Modified FWW Workbench underway.

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Blog entry by dbhost posted 07-23-2009 04:38 PM 15447 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

First off, I’d like to thank Marc Spagnulo (The Wood Whisperer) for giving me a clue about Lumberjocks. Had no idea this site existed prior to seeing the lj widget on his site…

Now on to the business of my entry…

I have been working on my own copy of the Fine Woodworking Getting Started in Woodworking design workbench, with a couple of either brilliant, or brilliantly stupid modifications. Not sure yet…

Basically speaking, I love the base dimensions, but the top left a little bit of room for growth and improvement.

So the base pieces with the known dimensions have been cut, and routed. Oh, sans the top groove. I am using cleats screwed and glued instead. My personal preference is all…

My original plan was to use 4×4 fence posts that were blowdowns from Hurricane Ike, but after hearing about the concerns with toxic stuff in the sawdust and seeing some of the beautiful examples of this being done with kiln dried 4×4s, I am changing that bit. Now just WHERE do I find kiln dried 4×4s in the Houston Metro area?

Okay so that bit gets set aside under the table saw for now while I figure out sourcing. So moving on with the project I source other items.

I need a vise. I have a “Workbench” for lack of a better term that features Simpson Strong Tie construction that has a Wilton 7” Woodworking vise mounted up to it. It works more or less, but after seeing the video about that Groz fast action vise, I knew I HAD to have one with quick release. Well with a Harbor Freight close by, I went by with my 20% off coupon and grabbed a Central Forge 9” Quick Release woodworking vise. Pretty much like the rest of my shop. VERY effective, but not going to impress many people. Anyway, a quick mount up to the old bench, mounting some scrap wood faceplates (3/4” birch ply) for temporary testing and some testing show this vise to be very steady with very little tendency toward racking. I am happy with my $47.00 vise purchase!

On to the top. While this is still on the drawing board as it were, I have the details ironed out.

I will be using the same glues & screws MDF lamination, in 24” x 72” size, The top side will also get topped with 1/4” tempered hardboard. Due to the extreme humidity I deal with on the Gulf Coast, the exposed MDF on the bottom will get a liberal coating of Kilz primer, and then some chocolate brown latex house paint. (It’s what I have sitting in the shop). I have the MDF cut to 72” length, I simply need to get my 24” cuts on it lay out the grids on the lower piece and start drilling.

The entire top will be edged with 1” wide x 1.75” thick solid wood. Species etc undetermined as of yet, but it is entirely possible that I may simply rip some clear SYP 2×4 stock I have had in the shop for several years to size. Also I am trying to decide if I want to peg & glue or use biscuits to attach the edging. I am leaning HEAVILY toward peg & glue especially after seeing the black walnut dowel stock at Woodcraft… The top will be mounted centered, and the vise will be mounted on the left hand side with the full row of dog holes.

The top will be screwed directly to the cleats on the spreaders.

The lower shelf will sit between the spreaders, in a similar lamination, but lacking edging.

The narrow end openings of the base will be filled with pegboard to hold things like extension cords etc…

Unlike the FWW video, almost all of the work on mine is being done on the table saw, or the miter saw… The circ saw hasn’t even left its storage bag.

If I go with the SYP all the way around, the finish will be Minwax Golden Pecan stain, topped off with several coats of Minwax semi gloss poly.

Especially during the heat of the summer, my shop time is precious little, and my budget can be fairly tight, the simplicity of the basic project makes for a great skill building project, but I wanted to stretch further than the base project was designed to do. I have made more than a couple of mistakes, and messed up some perfectly good wood. But as progress moves forward, I learn more than I ever did in High School wood shop.

Unfortunately one less I seem to never learn is, that if you cut a board too short, you can’t stretch it to the length you need….

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4 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3675 days

#1 posted 07-23-2009 04:46 PM

next lesson is – even if you cut a board twice, it’ll still be too short ;)

sounds like you’re doing great progress, and I agree with you, a workbench project gives you great practice which is as valuable if not more than the workbench itself. I just posted my FWW style workbench in my projects a few days ago, I used 4×4 kiln dried douglas FIR that I got at homedepot, it’s clean and doesn’t have any treatments on it.

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

View dbhost's profile


5726 posts in 3258 days

#2 posted 07-23-2009 06:50 PM

Must be a regional thing. I can get kiln dried SYP from the local shops, but HD and Lowes only carry PT 4×4 around these parts…

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View Micksda's profile


5 posts in 2815 days

#3 posted 06-06-2011 09:32 PM

I’m trying to make this bench too but am having some trouble with the legs. There’s only 1/16th of an inch clearance between the truss rods that run side to side and front to back. Two legs came out fine, the truss rods go in without hitting each other. But on the other two legs, the holes intersect. I’ve started filling the holes with dowels to plug them and will try again but wondered if you had any tips for hand drilling?

View dbhost's profile


5726 posts in 3258 days

#4 posted 06-06-2011 09:41 PM

Honestly, a drill press is your best bet, but perhaps a Drill Guide would work for you.

I am not sure about your own abilities, but I personally can’t hold the drill straight enough to do it without some mechanical help… I know, I tried…

Would it be possible for you to beg, borrow, or steal some time on a drill press?

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