My Father's Workbench Gets a New Home

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Blog entry by ~Julie~ posted 04-08-2010 03:05 PM 1391 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My father was always very supportive of whatever I did. He was always amazed to see things I had made and liked to tell people about his daughter the woodworker. His workbench sat in the basement of the home my mother still lives in for many, many years. While he wasn’t a woodworker, he sure did tinker a lot with appliances, household things, toys and cars. He used the bench as a place to glue, solder and fix many different items. Since my mother had no need for the bench, she gave the okay for me to take it and move it to my new workshop which is about 4 hours drive from her house.

The workbench actually is an old science desk that was once used in a high school in the Hamilton area. Someone my father knew gave it, or sold it to him at least 40 years ago as far as I can figure out. I’m not sure what type of wood it is, but it has a nice reddish brown colouring to it and the top is painted or stained black.

The bench could not be removed in one piece as it had to go up some stairs and into the back of our pickup truck. The top came off easily enough and the middle portion is like a cabinet sitting under the bench, so it could be removed as well, leaving the outer frame.

Outer frame:

Inner cabinet with flat panels in the door and sides:

Inside of door showing raised panel facing in:

Top of door showing mortise and tenon in frame:

Inside cabinet (cabinet has a door that opens on each side, so there are back to back shelves):

The bottom cross pieces that held the cabinet to the frame of the legs: (These had to be broken at the dowels to get them out, but were soon repaired with new ones where needed)

View of side of cabinet and holes for dowels:

View of top of leg:

The top was made of pieces of tongue and groove wood. One of the tongues broke off in transport, leaving the top in two pieces with one of the grooves filled with the old tongue. I used my small router to clean out the grooves and made a new tongue to glue into both sides:

The cabinet sits under some wood framing that holds the top on and leaves a space for drawers:

Unfortunately I only have one drawer, I suppose at some point I could make another one and try to match it to the original. There were some funny drawings and words and names written into the drawer, remember this was once at a high school:

The back of the drawer has initials along with the words “GRAD CLASS OF 1959” I wonder where these people are now?

An old newspaper lined the drawer, The Hamilton Spectator, Fri. Sept. 2, 1966 (Hamilton, ON) At that time you could get a “split cowhide briefcase” for $10.19 and calfskin loafers for $17.98 and Dr. Zhivago and Born Free were playing at the movie theatre:

Here is the workbench put back together and sitting in my new shop. There is missing molding at the bottom along with the missing drawer. I didn’t do anything to finish or neaten the wood, I’m just leaving it as it is:

My father passed away in 2004 and I miss him very much, he would have been 89 years old today.

-- ~Julie~

11 comments so far

View skeeter's profile


233 posts in 3363 days

#1 posted 04-08-2010 03:10 PM

That is acually a really cool design for a bench, totally different. i love looking at old newspapers too.

-- My philosophy: Somewhere between Norm and Roy

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3671 days

#2 posted 04-08-2010 03:13 PM

congratulations on the transfer, of both the workbench, and the experiences it holds within

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

View beatlefan's profile


56 posts in 3121 days

#3 posted 04-08-2010 03:34 PM

That is just so neat—the memories of your dad working on things on that bench are priceless-My dad had a work bench that he built in our basement in 1960, nothing fancy but I wish I had taken it when we sold the house a few years ago—but we left it there—I am so glad you have those memories and the work bench-thanks for sharing Julie !

-- Tony --

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 4014 days

#4 posted 04-08-2010 03:42 PM


Thanks for posting this; it made me smile. I have always enjoyed discovering thing like this in old furniture, etc…

Having lost my father a year ago this month I understand what it’s like to look at these things that he built or worked on. A lot of memories come flooding back in an instant… :) have a great week and enjoy the workbench!!

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View rustfever's profile


752 posts in 3333 days

#5 posted 04-08-2010 03:44 PM

Desk is neat. Memories are priceless!

-- Rustfever, Central California

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 3765 days

#6 posted 04-08-2010 05:20 PM

Great bench and wonderful story!

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 3326 days

#7 posted 04-08-2010 05:27 PM


Nice bench.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3196 days

#8 posted 04-08-2010 06:22 PM

I love stories like this—the connection.

I always remember—in ‘96—after losing MY dad—talking to a friend whose dad died when my friend was young.

“Think of it this way,” John told me, “You know how tough it could be to talk to your dad? Now you can talk to him any time you want.”

And he was right.

May you remember your dad, fondly, every time you use that oh-so-cool workbench/desk.

-- -- Neil

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4100 days

#9 posted 04-08-2010 06:25 PM

There is nothing better than something like this to bring back good memories of someone you love. Every time you use it he will be there with you!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3326 days

#10 posted 04-10-2010 03:10 AM

what a awesome bench…so very cool to have the very thing your dad worked om for so long..and now you will work on it for so long..its an heirloom…..for sure… sure your going to preserve the papers in some acid free covers…have you thought about making a frame for them…thanks for the post…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View hjt's profile


835 posts in 3161 days

#11 posted 05-06-2010 07:05 PM

Julie – that’s beautiful! Such a great story and so nice to read of your memory and how proud your dad had been with “his daughter, the wood worker.” If you have read my profile and blog on my workshop, you know that I have my dad’s tools. Now I wonder if my son or daughter will want them when I go to the “big dust collector in the sky.” God Bless you!

-- Harold

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