Nicholson Workbench

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Project by David Bareford posted 05-18-2015 02:03 PM 3279 views 12 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I got into wookdworking about three years ago, and for the last two or so have become a dedicated hand tool user. I’ve been “making do” with a too-high garage counter and a Black and Decker Workmate for about two years now, and I’ve dreamed of a “real” bench but figured the materials alone were out of my budget (read: Craigslist free ads), to say nothing of the vise hardware I would need.

Then I ran across Mike Siemsen’s DVD on the Nicholson workbench build (available from Lost Art Press). Mike takes a 5-gallon bucket of old hand tools, shows how to tune them up, and then proceeds to build a great bench using only those tools. I took the plunge and ordered the digital download (which came with a Sketchup file, pdfs of different views, and even transcripts of the videos.

What a great video! Mike not only makes it look easy, he makes it easy. I built the bench in a weekend, spending less than $100 on materials, and his bench has enough ingenious features that I can do all my workholding without the need for a vise! How’s that for a deal?

Here are some photos of the process, starting from the lumber (mostly 4 2×12x10s) through the finished bench. With the addition of a pair of Gramercy holdfasts, this bench does everything I need it to and it is a joy to work on! Already started the first project on it…

11 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


22669 posts in 2286 days

#1 posted 05-18-2015 02:06 PM

This is a nice heavy workbench and will serve you well. It will be a great addition to your shop.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View waho6o9's profile


7119 posts in 1997 days

#2 posted 05-18-2015 03:20 PM

That’s an awesome bench.

View Tim Royal 's profile

Tim Royal

202 posts in 906 days

#3 posted 05-18-2015 03:37 PM

Excellent work, thanks for sharing your work and the story behind it!

-- -Tim Royal... Always reminded of this when I see the amazing work LJ's do (I have no choice but to be humble!), "Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real." -Thomas Merton

View SPHinTampa's profile


566 posts in 3105 days

#4 posted 05-18-2015 03:46 PM

Nice looking bench

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

View lumberjoe's profile


2893 posts in 1668 days

#5 posted 05-18-2015 08:26 PM

I built is bench back in December. I use it every day. I agree, Mike makes it really easy


View Ken90712's profile


16864 posts in 2608 days

#6 posted 05-18-2015 11:17 PM

Great looking bench, wish I had room for one of these beauty’s

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Mauricio's profile


7115 posts in 2571 days

#7 posted 05-19-2015 02:12 AM

Love it

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Mauricio's profile


7115 posts in 2571 days

#8 posted 05-19-2015 02:15 AM

No post on the tredel lathe?

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View David Bareford's profile

David Bareford

66 posts in 1027 days

#9 posted 05-19-2015 12:39 PM

I should do a treadle lathe post in the future. That is, if I can get the hardware bits of it working to my satisfaction…

View mervillehomesteader's profile


31 posts in 1017 days

#10 posted 05-19-2015 02:03 PM

Nice bench. The treadle lathe looks like a season 18 episode 6 of Roy Underhill. I have a bunch of 2×14 rough cut fir air drying as we speak. Waiting to do the exact same thing. I should look into that video, hand tool benches are a tough design.

Lets see a post on the lathe. Been mustering the courage to take the time to build one of those too.
Maybe you could inspire me.

-- Perfectly Imperfect. Thats my style!

View BenR's profile


319 posts in 2048 days

#11 posted 05-19-2015 06:46 PM

What! No roubo with $1000.00 worth of Benchcrafted hardware! Bet yours works just as well. Love it!

-- Ben in Va

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