My current bench is an eight-foot long plywood and 2×4 monstrosity that takes up a huge chunk of space in my teeny attic workshop. It’s too high to get good angles when using hand tools. And it’s all wibbly-wobbly.
Time for a new bench! I’ve done some projects with wood before, but nothing this complicated. I started doing some research and got pretty freaked out by all the roubo-style benches with gorgeous woods and the hours and hours of blood sweat and tears (and money) pumped into them. I found Tom Caspar’s Torsion Box workbench. Hope! Still seemed a little too complicated for what I wanted. More research. I watched the early New Yankee Workshop episode where Norm makes a simple workbench with cheap lumber. Bingo, let’s do Norm’s!
I wasn’t crazy about his top design. I didn’t want to bother with square dog holes and having to plunge-cut the hardboard top. So… to SketchUp!
I compromised – my bench design has a top made of two layers of 3/4” MDF with a sheet of hardboard on top, framed with some maple 1×4’s from Home Depot, sitting on a pretty simple frame made of 2×4’s. Slap on some cheap vises, drill some dog holes, and boom – done. (Dog holes are missing from my model.)
I’ve struggled with this project – it’s taking a lot longer than expected (hitting the end of two weeks of a couple hours a night and weekends) and I’ve made some mistakes, tried to take shortcuts, and occasionally used the wrong tools. It’s coming along though, and every mistake I’ve made I’ve learned from.
I flipped the bench over, fully assembled for the first time tonight!
I need to re-do a couple things – I tried to get the maple flush with the hardboard top, but it’s not. I realized I should have attached it a little high and planed it down to meet the hardboard. I have to pop that all off and reattach it a little higher, then level it off.
The vise faces didn’t line up with the top either, so I’m going to remove them and cut from the bottom to the holes I drilled so I can adjust them.
-- Justin M Schmidt | Somerville, Massachusetts | http://jusbot.com