Portable (Milkmans) Workbench Version II

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Project by Woodbridge posted 01-15-2015 05:18 PM 3995 views 14 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I do not have a proper workbench at the cottage. There is a flimsy work table in the garage with no work holding capability. It would also be nice to be able to work outside and enjoy the view of the lake.

I first saw the Milkman’s Workbench in the June 2013 issue of Popular Woodworking magazine. I knew it would be a great little bench to have at the cottage. It easily attaches to a table top, or even a picnic table allowing me to work outside.

Last year, I made my first version out of leftover maple hardwood flooring: following the plans and dimensions outlined in the article. It worked great.

I still had some maple hardwood flooring around so I decided to make a larger version, for use this summer. The vice block is made from oak. I found some spalted mystery wood in my wood pile that I used for the knobs. The 1 1/4 inch diameter vice screws were made using the Beall wood threading tool. Instead of square dogs I went with 3/4” diameter dogs so that I could use my holdfasts.

It is a very handy little workbench with a great end vice and very useful face vice. I even use at home in my workshop. My small workbench in my shop does not have a face vice, so I use the portable bench when cutting dovetails.

The first bench measures 30” x 7 1/4” x 1 1/2”. The new version measures 36” x 9 1/2” x 2 3/4”. The face vice can handle wood up to 24” long and 3” wide. The end vice has a length capacity of 29.5”. I wanted it to be longer but because of a cutting mistake, oops, I lost about 1.5” in length.)

The bench is finished with some wipe on poly.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

14 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile


7656 posts in 2265 days

#1 posted 01-15-2015 05:51 PM


Not a mistake, an adjustment to the plans. ( I’m sure my friend Murphy was visiting while you were out. LOL!)

Looks like it fits your needs. How did you make the wooden screws to hold the pieces? Is there or was there a problem in this area? Thanks

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View CC's profile


17 posts in 1255 days

#2 posted 01-15-2015 06:03 PM

I’m sure you will get lots of use out of this with the wind blowing through you hair while at the cottage on the beach. The “mystery” wood has wonderful characteristic.

-- CC, Richmond Hill, Ontario

View Woodbridge's profile


3451 posts in 1840 days

#3 posted 01-15-2015 06:08 PM

Hi Doc, actually Murphy was sitting on my shoulder when I built this. There were a number of last minute adjustments to the plans as I went along.

The screws were made using the Beall wood threading kit. It was actually very easy (and fun) to use.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2757 days

#4 posted 01-15-2015 07:27 PM

You did a great job on these Peter. I have seen a few of these over the years, but I still don’t know why they are called a ‘milkman’s bench’, do you know? With it’s portability you should get a lot of use out of them.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Woodbridge's profile


3451 posts in 1840 days

#5 posted 01-15-2015 07:37 PM

Hi Mike, thanks

I did some Googling and here is what I came up with as to why it is called a Milkmans workbench.

Apparently the original version that was used for the Popular Woodworking article belong to the neighbourhood milkman.

This was from another forum

“Chris Schwarz saw a small portable workbench in an auction catalog, thought it was neat and was interested in it; later on, one of his readers forwarded him all sorts of photos and info of a similar example …...The original blog post called it the “Milkman’s Workbench”, because the original piece that Chris referenced, the one his reader forwarded information about, belonged to the neighborhood milkman.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1170 posts in 1136 days

#6 posted 01-15-2015 08:51 PM

Lovely bench!
Searched a bit and found more information and a video here
Thanks for sharing

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View Lumberpunk's profile


323 posts in 1759 days

#7 posted 01-16-2015 12:01 AM

I built a similar one about a year ago and I love it… it in combination with a moveable dog block on my outfeed table are my bench until I get a larger shop.

Nice work!

-- If someone tells you you have enough tools and don't need any more, stop talking to them, you don't need that kind of negativity in your life.

View kdc68's profile


2526 posts in 1699 days

#8 posted 01-16-2015 12:16 AM

My eyes lit up and the wheels began to turn….This may be in my future soon.

Great job on both ! Thanks for sharing !

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View kiefer's profile


4873 posts in 2089 days

#9 posted 01-16-2015 12:22 AM

Nicely done Peter
Should be a handy clamping device anywhere being portable and easely set up.
Those wood screws look nice with the fancy spalted wood handles .
Is there leather on the ends of the screws ?


-- Kiefer

View Woodbridge's profile


3451 posts in 1840 days

#10 posted 01-16-2015 12:45 AM

Thanks everyone for the comments.

It really is a handy little workbench. Version II however is probably as big as you want to go, before it starts to become less and less portable.

Kiefer, there is no leather on the ends of the screws, although that is a good idea and one that I can easily add.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Buckethead's profile


3140 posts in 1291 days

#11 posted 01-16-2015 12:48 AM

Wowie! Gorgeous.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View Oldtool's profile


2365 posts in 1613 days

#12 posted 01-16-2015 01:13 AM

Very nicely crafted milkman’s benches, look like they’re too pretty to use.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View johnhutchinson's profile


1172 posts in 1052 days

#13 posted 01-16-2015 01:18 AM

BRAVO !!! Great tool and also just a beautiful thing.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View Woodbridge's profile


3451 posts in 1840 days

#14 posted 01-16-2015 01:43 AM

Thanks everyone.

Oldtool – Some folks are able to keep their workbenches pristine. I don’t seem to have the discipline to do that, so they won’t be looking pretty for too long. Take a look at the top of the workbench it is clamped to for proof..

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

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