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Norm Abram Workbench

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Project by joph posted 05-20-2015 12:05 PM 2696 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I eyeballed a lot of the dimensions from this video.

This was the second project I built.

The joints are rabbets and dados with just screws holding them in except for the bottom shelf which is not attached at all – it just rests in the groove cut in the leg. Wood is construction 2×4s for the frame, plywood and hardboard for the work surface, pine for the vise, and oak for the surround.

It’s two years later and I’m not happy with it. It racks an awful lot and I’d like better storage underneath than just one open shelf. Building a work surface over a chest of drawers should solve both of these issues.

-- There's no such thing as a weekend project.





9 comments so far

View ohwoodeye's profile

ohwoodeye

1731 posts in 2614 days


#1 posted 05-20-2015 12:15 PM

Looks good.
Should make your woodworking more enjoyable.
Well done.

-- Directions are just the Manufacturer's opinion on how something should be assembled. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

View ChrisK's profile

ChrisK

1809 posts in 2542 days


#2 posted 05-20-2015 12:40 PM

You can add some 5mm ply to the back legs to tie them together. Maybe a piece 16” tall by the width. That will help with the racking.

-- Chris K

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13713 posts in 2079 days


#3 posted 05-20-2015 12:48 PM

Screws means it can come apart for the next iteration! Experience is a great teacher, now you know what doesn’t work And what you need in a bench.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1141 days


#4 posted 05-20-2015 02:40 PM

It looks like you did a good job with the build. Do you miss not having a front vise?

I built the same bench as my first real bench and if you glue the joints it works ok for a mostly machine workshop but the bench has some flaws for hand tool work. The half lap joints and single 2X4 legs are to flimsy to ever be a stable bench. I think if you double upped on the legs and created bridle joints at the top and mortise and tenon joints at the lower stretchers it would be a lot more stable bench especially if you pegged the joints. Even so I found the top a little light for heavy chisel work.

I am not knocking the bench however. It’s a lot better design than 90% of the commercial benches out there and for machine based shops it’s a good bench. It just was never designed with heavy hand tool woodworking in mind.

View joph's profile

joph

13 posts in 1108 days


#5 posted 05-20-2015 03:25 PM



It looks like you did a good job with the build. Do you miss not having a front vise?

I built the same bench as my first real bench and if you glue the joints it works ok for a mostly machine workshop but the bench has some flaws for hand tool work. The half lap joints and single 2X4 legs are to flimsy to ever be a stable bench. I think if you double upped on the legs and created bridle joints at the top and mortise and tenon joints at the lower stretchers it would be a lot more stable bench especially if you pegged the joints. Even so I found the top a little light for heavy chisel work.

I am not knocking the bench however. It s a lot better design than 90% of the commercial benches out there and for machine based shops it s a good bench. It just was never designed with heavy hand tool woodworking in mind.

- Richard H

You pretty much nailed everything I don’t like about how I made this bench.

-- There's no such thing as a weekend project.

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1141 days


#6 posted 05-20-2015 04:49 PM

You pretty much nailed everything I don t like about how I made this bench.

- joph

The one other thing I learned from this bench is I hate tool trays. Mine ended up being full of sharp tools covered in sawdust and shavings all the time that always seemed to have the tool I needed buried under the assembly I was trying to work on. I will never build another bench with open tool trays on the top. I’m also not a huge fan of lower cabinets but that’s me. I use holdfasts a lot so would need a opening between the top and the cabinet and anytime I had a piece clamped to the face of the bench I know there would be something in the drawers I needed. If I did build them I would make the drawers open from both sides so I could get to things from either side of the bench and leave a 12” or so space open between the cabinet and the top of the bench.

However I don’t regret making this bench even though it’s long gone. It was a good starter project that taught me a lot about what I do and do not like. I’m on my 3rd bench now which I consider a temporary bench and i”m hoping my 4th one will be my last.

View Woodwrecker's profile

Woodwrecker

3925 posts in 3036 days


#7 posted 05-20-2015 08:12 PM

Any project including the name of “His Royal Highness” Norm Abram gets a look.
Very nice job.
That should serve you well.

-- Eric, central Florida

View Blackie_'s profile

Blackie_

4531 posts in 1973 days


#8 posted 05-20-2015 09:20 PM

Once my cabinet work station is complete my next project was to build a new workbench and I was planing on using Norm’s design, I’m glad I found this project and the comments were helpful, looks like I’ll be using mortise and Tenon with extra cross bracing, I’ll also have a front vice instead of the vise he used.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at http://www.facebook.com/randy.blackstock.custom.wood.designs

View NormG's profile

NormG

5499 posts in 2464 days


#9 posted 05-22-2015 01:38 AM

You can add support and drawers to solve you racing issue. Nice bench

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

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