Starting up a workshop the second time around. #2: Workbench plan

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Blog entry by David Kirtley posted 06-16-2010 10:07 PM 1302 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Background and gathering the resources. Part 2 of Starting up a workshop the second time around. series Part 3: Sometimes you win..... »

While I am waiting for my vise to get actual measurements, I have been working on what I want for my bench this time. It is going to be a lot smaller than my last one. It is also going to be made from dimensional lumber and sheet goods. A solid hardwood bench is pretty but it is so impractical. It usurps a lot of expensive lumber and you have to spend so much time preparing stock. Straight out of the big box store for this one.

I am going with only once vise. I have ordered a knock-off patternmaker’s vise from woodcraft. I used to have one of the AMT vises on my old bench and wished I had started with it. My current “so called” bench has some really cheesy vises and it is worse than not having any. They rack and slip. They don’t meet up evenly with the top of the bench. It is an exercise in frustration. I am also going to drill a whole series of holes on the top and on the skirt front for holdfasts.

The footpads and top rails are doubled up 2×4s on edge and the rest of the frame is plain 2×4 lumber with 1” for the tenons by 1/4 in taken off all around. Nothing pretty or complicated. A radius on the front of the footpads and top rails to have less to stub your toe.

Enough description, lets get started.

Basic through mortise and tenon with a 4’ x 2’ top. The top will be bolted onto the top rails through the skirt. Not pretty but no real sense in making it hard to access to take the top off. Gravity will go a long way in making it stable. A quick sneak peak under the edging and you can see how it will be made up:

Three sheets of 3/4 hardwood ply or MDF (undecided at this point) and topped with a replaceable 1/4 piece of tempered hardboard on top. It is tough, smooth and easy to not get attached to. After my last one of hard maple that I laminated, flattened by hand with scrub plane and jointer, smoothed and finished, it pained me when it would get dinged. No more for me. This bench will be a tool and not a piece of furniture. It is going to get banged around with some metal work as well.

The bottom sheet will have a cutout for the back end of the vise:

I am actually going to put storage in mine. Probably drawers. like this:

I might splurge and do some hardwood for the skirt around the edge. Less likely to splinter when abused.

If you are interested, I have shared out the model in google’s 3D warehouse.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

3 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3072 days

#1 posted 06-16-2010 11:05 PM

good luck. looks like you know waht you want, and have planned it out very well. good start!

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

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 2441 days

#2 posted 06-16-2010 11:06 PM

You sound like a man with a plan and I’d say it will do the job and then some.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2421 days

#3 posted 06-16-2010 11:09 PM


Yeah, I have been thinking about it for a while and sketched it out for myself. Once I got there, figured I would go ahead and post in case someone was interested.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

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