Workbench - strap style

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Project by Justus posted 03-11-2009 04:17 PM 5037 views 4 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was my first project where I extensively used the plug-it-&-strap-it-concept. The bench is made from construction grade timber with OSB panels resting in grooves. The top is a 24 mm baltic birch multiple ply board, the most expensive part of the whole bench.

The construction relies on the I-beam concept: the panels join two rails/posts in way forming an I-beam, provided there is some force holding it together. And that is provide by the straps. As long as the panels do not buckle out of plane, they can take the weight of a Soviet tank.

The bench is constructed in such that all rails and posts have their joinery cut into them (a kataba job), grooves routed where needed and then the appropriate rails, posts and panels get pulled together with the web clamps. A long strap runs the whole length right under the top and back under the bottom side rails. The top is screwed on using M8-machine screws. Two leg vises and a back vise complete the set-up.

At present the back vise is at the left hand side. All it would take to put it on the right hand side is to screw of the top, loosen the web clamps and reassemble the rails and accordingly. I am right-handed, but for some reason or another work always on the left side of the bench.

The bottom shelve is only half – that way my shop vac fits nicely (second picture). The front rail is flush with the top and commonly used as a clamping surface.

The panels may be a sore sight for a bench traditionalist – but boy, do they make the bench rigid! And at a very low cost.

Of course I keep on dreaming about building the next, truly nice bench, but this one works. And as already many other people noticed: it takes a bench to build a bench. You can see it from the fact, that the lumber of this bench is not planed: I did not have a bench to plane the lumber. It just does not work on a workmate. But it does work on a bench like this (picture 5).

As with most of my projects, there are plans available.

Cheers, Justus

11 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16280 posts in 4415 days

#1 posted 03-11-2009 05:10 PM

You must get a quantity discount on those strap clamps.

I’ll bet I know what’s holding the baby’s diaper on! :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Matt's profile


181 posts in 3569 days

#2 posted 03-11-2009 05:18 PM

Hahaha, you’re killin’ me. Nice idea, however.

-- Matt - My Websites - - Hand Tools :: - Small Shops

View PurpLev's profile


8547 posts in 3845 days

#3 posted 03-11-2009 05:19 PM

great idea, and it does look rigid!

like many have stated – a work bench gets beaten up hard! so this might be a more suitable work bench than a “traditional” hardwood “hand carved” bench… although, it is a woodworker’s dream to have that furniture grade bench… at least now you have a bench to build it on :o)

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

View JuniorJoiner's profile


488 posts in 3636 days

#4 posted 03-11-2009 07:32 PM

the bench looks great, very functional. I would seriously try to find a better way to run those cords though.
nice work

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View Derek Lyons's profile

Derek Lyons

584 posts in 3764 days

#5 posted 03-11-2009 08:25 PM

I’d check the tightness of those clamps on a regular basis – at least weekly. They aren’t meant to be used long term and any slippage/stretching that wouldn’t be noticed with normal usage, especially as you stress the bench, could really bite you on the butt.

Other than that caveat, you have a really clever idea there!

-- Derek, Bremerton WA --

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3970 days

#6 posted 03-12-2009 06:48 AM

Nice looking bench and work area. You have a beautiful family. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Justus's profile


30 posts in 3671 days

#7 posted 03-21-2009 11:20 PM

Derek, you are right, there are a lot of junk straps around – but for these projects I use swiss made industrial quality. 4 € each. I tightened them two years ago – no sign of fatigue yet. You can pluck them like a chord and the sound tells you the tension. I have been head of a polymer research department for quite some time and can tell you – use PES straps and the wood is going to give in first.

Cheers, Justus

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 3909 days

#8 posted 03-21-2009 11:55 PM

Nice shop and I think that is a unique way to make the bench. Best of all it works.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Pete_Jud's profile


424 posts in 3949 days

#9 posted 05-09-2009 07:08 AM

Love your natural lighting, would love to have that big window in my shop.

-- Life is to short to own an ugly boat.

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3773 days

#10 posted 05-13-2009 03:58 AM

thats one young woodworker

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View jason's profile


33 posts in 3571 days

#11 posted 01-10-2010 07:04 AM

That is one of the strangest ideas I have seen for a bench. Looks like it will work fine.

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