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Project by tyvekboy posted 11-01-2015 03:48 AM 4027 views 37 times favorited 32 comments Add to Favorites Watch
HYBRID SPLIT-TOP WORKBENCH RE-VISITED • No picture No picture No picture No picture No picture
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Oct 31, 2015

Although this was originally posted 3 years ago, I felt an update of this project could reveal a few details that were originally left out. (Due to the number of photos, loading time may vary)

If you are considering building a split-top workbench but can’t decide if you want to have just a 2 inch gap or a 6 inch tool tray between your bench tops, here is a design that will let you have both options while providing a sturdy work surface upon which to work.


Height: 35”

Bench Tops: 90” long X 12” Wide X 2” Thick

(NOTE: There is a 2” x 2” skirt glued underneath each top which makes the tops appear to be 4 inches thick. A 2” bench top is recommended for the Gramacy holdfast that I used.)

•• WEIGHT ••

Each leg sets: 70 lbs

Each bench top: 50 lbs

Approximate total weight with vises Installed: 375 pounds


Top: Laminated Beech and Maple

Legs, Rails & Deadman: Laminated Hickory

Stretchers: Laminated Plywood with hardwood bearing surfaces

Shelf: Plywood panels

Supports: Metal bands and angle iron


About 4 months


Configurable with 2 or 6 inch gap between split top bench tops
Sliding deadman
Front legs flush with front bench top
Free floating 2 inch spacers/tool holder
Free floating 6 inch tool tray
Heavy weight to stay in place
Light enough to be assembled by one person.


Workbench Caster – Set of 4
••••• Rockler (#43501) and Woodcraft (#158547) = $79.99
——- Right now (as of Nov 1, 2015) ROCKLER has it on SALE = $59.99
——- Rockler has a sale on this item every now and then. Get a set now because you’ll eventually need it if you’re thinking about building a workbench.

This caster set is rated at 100 lbs/caster … or up to a 400 pound workbench.

Gramercy Holdfast
••••• Tools for Working Wood ($35/pair)

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These are all the pieces that go into making this hybrid workbench.


The front and rear bench tops are made of 2-inch wide strips of hardwood that were laminated together on their wide faces. The glued-up tops were milled flat with a router milling jig.

After flattening both tops a 2 X 2 inch hardwood border (lips) was glued to the perimeter of the bottom of each top. Each top measured 90 inches long and 12 inches wide.

Each bench top weighs approximately 50 pounds each.


The first configuration of the workbench is two workbench tops with a 2” gap between them giving the bench a 26” overall width.

The free floating spacers in the gap in the flush position can be used to hold tools as you work. Any one of the five spacers can be removed to allow you to insert the head of an F-clamp through the gap and clamp something to the bench top.

With the floating spacers reversed, they project 1/2” over the bench top surface and serve as stops to work against. All 5 inserts are 18 inches long.

Here is an example of the reversed spacer flipped over and being used as a work stop.

To support the spacers these metal supports are screwed into the bottom of the workbench tops. Wood supports could be substituted.


With the ADDITION of 2 corbels that are held in place with a dovetail key and the REPOSITIONING of a block beneath the rear bench top, the REAR bench top can be moved 4 ” further away from the FRONT bench top making room for a 6” wide free floating tool tray with ramps and “dog houses“.

This configuration makes the overall width of the top 30 inches wide.

Metal straps screwed beneath the front and rear bench tops support the free floating tool tray. Wood supports could be substituted.


The leg sets are built with 5 X 5 inch hickory beams. The top rail supports the tops and the lower rail join the lower portion of the legs. Each leg set weighs approximately 70 pounds each and is a glued assembly.

The top of the top rail is located 2 inches below the top of the leg and even with the 2 X 2 inch rabbet cut on the outside of the legs. The workbench top support is shared by both the top of the rail and the outside rabbet on the leg.

The top of the leg serves as a TENNON that will later be use to mate the leg sets with the bench tops.

The joint between the top rail and the leg is a blind double mortise and tenon drawbore joint as shown above.

The joint between the lower rail and the leg is a double through mortise and tenon with wedges glued on the outside of each tenon.


The 2 stretchers that join the 2 leg sets are approximately 2 inches thick and 5 inches tall. Each stretcher consists of (2) 3/4 inch and (1) 1/2 pieces of laminated plywood.

The ends of the leg stretchers are haunched-dovetail-wedge joints that allows easy assembly and disassembly. Hardwood was added to the bearing surfaces of the ends.

The top of the front stretcher has a triangular guide (rail) upon which the bottom of the sliding deadman rides.

A cleat is installed on the inside of each stretcher to support the shelf panels.

The end of each leg stretcher is inserted into a complex haunched half-dovetail mortise …

… and secured with a wedge.

Due to the position of the sliding deadman rail glued to the top of the front stretcher, a pair of wedges are required to remove these wedges if disassembly is required. The wedges are pounded in towards each other to push the wedge out.

This is the assembled leg sets and stretchers. We are now ready for the tops.


Three pieces of 2 X 2 hardwood blocks are screwed on the bottom side of the bench tops to form a mortise for the leg tennons. Two blocks go from front to back lips and the third block is positioned to form the mortise. This photo shows one of the mortises for the front bench top.

Depending on the configuration of the bench, the mortise on the rear bench top can be different from the mortise on the front bench top. This picture shows the blocks that create the mortise positioned for the 6-inch tray configuration for the rear bench top.

This mortise would look similar to the previous picture if the rear bench top were to be configured with the 2 inch gap between the front and rear bench tops.

Because these 3 pieces of 2 X 2 ‘s that form the mortise are just screwed in place, reconfiguration is easy.


The key to the dual personality of this workbench is the use of this corbel.

This corbel not only supports the rear bench top but also allows the rear bench top to be moved 4 inches rearward to provide the space for the free floating 6 inch tray between the two bench tops.

This corbel is NOT used if the bench is configured with the 2 inch gap between the bench tops.

This corbel sits in the 2 inch rabbet on the outside top of the rear leg and is held in place with a dovetail key for easy assembly by one person.

With that explained we are now ready to install the front and rear bench tops and sliding deadman.


A slot is routed in the bottom of the front lip of the front bench top to receive the top rabbet of the sliding deadman.

The top of the sliding deadman is rabbeted to fit into the slot under the front lip of the front bench top.

The bottom of the sliding deadman rides on the rail glued to the top of the front stretcher.

As the front bench top is installed, the bottom of the deadman is placed on the guide rail attached to the top of the front stretcher and the top of the deadman is inserted into the slot routed under the front lip of the front bench top before the top is fully lowered onto the front leg tennons.

The shelf consists of sections of plywood that sit on cleats screwed to the inside of each stretcher.


Once the rear bench top is placed on the rear of the leg sets with the corbels, metal straps are screwed beneath the front and rear bench tops to support the free floating 6 inch tool tray. Wood supports could be substituted.

If needed, this tool tray can be removed if clamps are needed to secure something to the workbench top.

At either end of the 6 inch tray is a “dog house” with covers in which to store bench dogs or pegs used with the deadman. There is a ramp that goes from the top of the “dog house” to the bottom of the tray to make removing items easier.

The weight of the tops alone are enough to keep them in place. However, 4 angle brackets with 2 screws in each bracket are used just in case you try to lift up on the bench top.


Dog holes 3/4 inch in diameter were drilled in both tops. More dog holes were drilled in the front bench top.

The left front edge of the front bench top was machined to receive a quick release woodworking vise.

This is the left front vise installed.

The right end of the front bench top was also machined to receive another quick release woodworking vise.

This is the end vise installed.


A pair of Gramercy holdfasts are a necessary workbench accessory. (See hardware list above)

The holdfasts are stored in holes drilled in one leg.

Storage boxes were made to make use of the open space in the leg sets …

… and are held in place with a cleat on the outside and wooden turn buttons on the inside.

A workbench caster set was added for workbench mobility. (See hardware list above)

Because of the weight of the workbench, a bottle jack at either end is used to raise the workbench when deploying or retracting the workbench casters.

Rather than attaching a machine vise to the bench top, a floating machine vise platform was used to mount a machine vise. It is held in place with a holdfast.

A cleat on the front of the floating platform that projects below the bench top front edge and a dowel that fits in a dog hole on the bench top further helps keep the floating platform in place.

By using a floating platform and a holdfast, it is possible to have a machine vise installed at any point along the workbench front. It can also be completely removed from the workbench top.


I hope this revisit was worth the read. The purpose was to give you a better insight on the design and build of this dual personality workbench. Maybe you can incorporate some the ideas into your own workbench.


Comments, favorites and questions are welcomed, encouraged and appreciated.

Thanks for looking.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

32 comments so far

View smitty22's profile


694 posts in 2369 days

#1 posted 11-01-2015 04:29 AM

Thanks, lots of details that I was interested in!

-- Smitty

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

9330 posts in 3475 days

#2 posted 11-01-2015 04:41 AM

Very cool design! Very well thought out!

What makes it a Hybrid?

The Rough Cut guy mentioned, the other day, about the recessed tool tray in the benchtop…
He said “If he would do it again, he would leave it OUT”... was becoming to be a pain to keep clean, etc. etc.

I like Shipwrights (Paul) benches… and his Shop Made vices, etc. ... all out of plywood… I would like to make one of those someday… Very simple design…

The FineWoodworking New Fangled work bench is cool too… flexible… & easy…

Your bench is awesome & very well built… You did a great job on it… Looks like it will serve you well for many years!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View BurlyBob's profile


3485 posts in 1688 days

#3 posted 11-01-2015 04:52 AM

I agree thank you for posting this. There’s a lot I find interesting and useful about your bench. I’m particularly interested in the wheels. Where did you get them?

View UncleStumpy's profile


707 posts in 1735 days

#4 posted 11-01-2015 05:58 AM


-- "They don't want it perfect - they want it SPECIAL"

View bushmaster's profile


1255 posts in 1705 days

#5 posted 11-01-2015 06:00 AM

THANKS for posting all the details. The workmanship and design. Is beyond anything I have ever seen. All your work is very professional well thought through and executed. It is a privilege to have you as a buddy.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

917 posts in 1735 days

#6 posted 11-01-2015 09:50 AM

A brilliantly detailed posting! You have enough materials here for a book on the subject. Some excellent ideas that could be incorporated in other (existing) benches.
Many thank.

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View Schwieb's profile


1792 posts in 2884 days

#7 posted 11-01-2015 11:31 AM

Excellent post Alex

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View Roger's profile


19714 posts in 2227 days

#8 posted 11-01-2015 12:08 PM


-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 1715 days

#9 posted 11-01-2015 12:54 PM

Outstanding! Great photos and detailed write up. Thanks for posting.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View kiefer's profile


4873 posts in 2090 days

#10 posted 11-01-2015 12:59 PM

Thanks for the elaborate update Alex it is an interesting read and certainly will be of much use even if just some of your excellent ideas are used in a bench update or a new bench is constructed .
The many pictures you have included are much appreciated and of help to follow along .


-- Kiefer

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

16810 posts in 2528 days

#11 posted 11-01-2015 01:00 PM

Sweet bench, super build job. I love seeing it in kit form, too.

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Buckethead's profile


3140 posts in 1291 days

#12 posted 11-01-2015 01:23 PM


Amazing detail, incredibly involved build, and perfect execution. Such a bold undertaking.


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

View John Stegall's profile

John Stegall

477 posts in 2939 days

#13 posted 11-01-2015 01:33 PM

Very interesting read with lots of unique solutions. I built FWW’s newfangled bench and have never been satisfied. I may incorporate some of your ideas into a new one. Thanks for the details.

-- jstegall

View JoeinGa's profile


7383 posts in 1430 days

#14 posted 11-01-2015 03:23 PM

Nice job !

There’s no way on earth I could EVER post a picture like this…

Because everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) I’ve ever built I have assembled as I cut. Cutting out all the pieces and then assembling is something I could NEVER DO! My hat is off to you Sir !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Thinkerf's profile


48 posts in 1225 days

#15 posted 11-01-2015 04:30 PM

Now this is a work bench…almost too pretty to use!! Very efficient and it looks like it would be comfortable to work at no matter what shape or size your material might be. I like the caster idea..have the same on mine – two stationary at one end and a swivel at the other so I can move the bench anywhere in the shop very easily. Beautiful project and craftsmanship. It will be in your family for generations. Congrats Tyvekboy

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