21st Century Workbench

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Project by Jarrhead posted 05-13-2009 01:59 AM 10246 views 51 times favorited 38 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, I finally finished it! Started this workbench back in January. Woodworking is a hobby for me, so I don’t get to work on it every day. Before I decided to build this bench, I did a lot of research. For anyone thinking of building your own bench, I highly recommend Christopher Schwarz’ “Workbenches” book. Most of the reviews on Amazon for this book were spot on. This is the modern reference standard IMHO. I actually wanted to build the same bench that is featured on the cover of Chris’ book. However, I know I have at least one more move in my not to distant future, and I could not conceive on how to build his design and still be able to get it out of the basement when the movers came. Enter the October 2008 edition of Popular Woodworking magazine and the splendid article by Bob Lang on his “21st Century Workbench”. This design had the criteria I was looking for with regards to heft and workholding options. Most importantly, it is designed in a “breakdown” format, to facilitate ease of movement.
This is far and away the most intense project I have completed to date. In terms of size and complexity. I learned an awful lot along the way. Some of it the hard way. For those of you that have read that article, and maybe considered building your own version of this bench, I would say go for it! This bench is an awesome tool. I have already put it to use, and don’t know how I ever accomplished anything in the woodshop without it before. You may notice some slight variations between my bench and Bob Lang’s. First, and foremost, I elected to eliminate the shelf on the bottom. Two reasons for this decision: 1.) The plan did not really address how the cleats mounted to the bottom rail for support. I felt that for it to look decent the shelf must finish even with the bottom stretchers on each leg assembly. There just wasn’t sufficient material on the rails below that line to make mounting those cleats worth the trouble.; 2.) I was concerned that if I built a shelf down there, I would be damn tempted to use it for storage. I was worried that whatever I put on the shelf would eventually become a hinderance to clamping operations in the future. I also made my tool tray out of three separate trays instead of four. I wanted the option of hiding slightly longer tools in there.
What was the most important thing I learned? I would have to say that ash is not a very user friendly species. I am new to hand planing, and I have nightmares about tearout now. I know my next big tool investment is going to be a Lee Valley Low Angle Jack plane. I like the split top for the extra clamping options it provides. However, you should be be aware that flattening two separate slabs in the same plane may eventually be problematic, particularly if your floor is uneven. Let me know what you think?

-- trn2wud

38 comments so far

View kiwi1969's profile


609 posts in 2533 days

#1 posted 05-13-2009 02:02 AM

very sweet! the rail joints look fantastic.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View a1Jim's profile


113833 posts in 2668 days

#2 posted 05-13-2009 02:02 AM

wow wow wow that’s one great bench fantastic.well done

-- Custom furniture

View Sean's profile


156 posts in 2706 days

#3 posted 05-13-2009 02:20 AM

Very nice…I particularly like the wedged tenons. Any in progress pics?

-- "Democracy is by far the worst system of government. Except all the others that have been tried." ~ Winston Churchill

View CharlieM1958's profile


16143 posts in 3309 days

#4 posted 05-13-2009 02:22 AM

The level of perfectionism evident on this site constantly amazes me!

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

View joeob's profile


69 posts in 2420 days

#5 posted 05-13-2009 02:26 AM

Fantastic bench. well done.

-- To finish something you must first start!

View flcopper169's profile


179 posts in 2431 days

#6 posted 05-13-2009 02:31 AM

Wow… that’s all I can say..


-- Happy and safe woodworking,

View Durnik150's profile


647 posts in 2413 days

#7 posted 05-13-2009 02:32 AM

Droooool!! You have a creation you can be proud of. The neat part is that you get to put it to use yourself whenever you are in the shop.


-- Behind the Bark is a lot of Heartwood----Charles, Centennial, CO

View woodworm's profile


14144 posts in 2682 days

#8 posted 05-13-2009 02:36 AM

Marvellous workbench that I will fetch if your shop is just 2 to 3hrs drive distance from my home.
Great job!

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

936 posts in 2484 days

#9 posted 05-13-2009 02:45 AM


-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View blockhead's profile


1475 posts in 2399 days

#10 posted 05-13-2009 02:50 AM

Absolutely beautiful William! Are you sure you want to work on that? I wouldn’t want even the smallest dent or scratch in it. Again, wonderful job!

-- Brad, Oregon- The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those who got there first.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13347 posts in 2764 days

#11 posted 05-13-2009 02:53 AM

Nice Workbench.

View tmblweed0429's profile


42 posts in 2402 days

#12 posted 05-13-2009 03:04 AM

Incredible. Absolutely incredible. I now have workbench envy! Thanks for sharing.

-- Trent Tidmore, Grapevine, TX

View Gary's profile


8388 posts in 2524 days

#13 posted 05-13-2009 03:14 AM

Great workbench….great work. Is that a LeeValley twin screw?

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View DocK16's profile


1167 posts in 3178 days

#14 posted 05-13-2009 03:46 AM

I’m glad I haven’t built my work bench yet cause I’just found the one for me.

-- Common sense is so rare anymore when you do see it, it looks like pure genius.

View seriousturtle's profile


98 posts in 2421 days

#15 posted 05-13-2009 03:54 AM

Beautiful workmanship. Very jealous.

-- ~the turtle

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