A Solid Foundation to build a future - My New Workbench

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Project by bfd posted 10-22-2009 06:42 AM 6731 views 43 times favorited 35 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This has been a project that I have been working on off and on for the last 10 months or so between commissions. Even longer if you count the year that I took to figure out what type of workbench I wanted to build for myself. Finally I can call this complete with just a few minor things to finish up. For those who don’t know I blogged my of my process here This bench needed to do triple duty in my modest shop. 1) I needed a stable flat workbench that was idea for working with handtools and that had storage for thoses tools. 2) I needed a run off table for my table saw. 3) I wanted a bench that reflected my sense of style that I could also use to show potential clients an example of my work. I purchased the laminated bench top which is 1-1/2”thick and then built the 4”Thick x 1-3/4d apron. The half blind dovetails are all hand cut. I decided to drill 2 rows of 3/4”round dog holes for both front and side vise. Each vise is 13-1/2” x 4” and the hardware is from Lee Valley. The legs are set flush with the front apron to give me even more clamping options. The legs and storage are my own designs and are what I think make my bench unique. The case acts as the lateral support and is extremely rigid. The legs are built up lamination of 5 layers of particle board with solid wood and veneer overlay. The bench weighs a ton! I veneered the storage case in Walnut. There are 4 drawers that hold all my hand tools in the order which I use them. From top to bottom. Marking & measuring, hand saws, chisles and mallet, and card scrapers and hand planes. Each drawer is solid beech and I have used a different joint for each drawer.

Top drawer is butt jointed and pinned with exposed dowels. The second is box jointed, the third is dovetailed using a router and jig while the bottom drawer are hand cut dovetails. Each drawer I have either routed out for each tool (french fit) or have come up with a way to give each tool its own spot. I can add more storage on the outside of each leg in the future if needed (see rendering in blog). I have been using the bench for the past two months and have already scratched and dented the top so I no longer have to worry about the first scratch. I should have this bench in my shop for the next 50 years.

There are a few design changes I made along the way from my rendering. I decided to omit the alum. track as I feel for now I have enough options for holding my work. I also ended up having to push the top to the left a bit in order to acount for the front left vise. In my design I had the overhang on each side of the legs equal. I also still need to route the top with miter slots that match my table saw so I can use my cross cut sled.

Finish: 3 coats of Wiping Poly
Dimensions: 30”d x 60”w x 34 1/4”h (not including vises)

35 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3572 days

#1 posted 10-22-2009 06:49 AM

Very nice bench Brian a project that will last for years in your shop.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View BarryW's profile


1015 posts in 3901 days

#2 posted 10-22-2009 07:01 AM

Oh my…..drool, drool, drool. Sorry, I didn’t mean to…

-- /\/\/\ BarryW /\/\/\ Stay so busy you don't have time to die.

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4089 days

#3 posted 10-22-2009 07:01 AM

Nice job bfd. I like how you didn’t flush the storage against the bottom of the benchtop. makes it hard to use holdfasts that way ;)

I agree you should have that for 50 yrs (or more). Love the cutouts for the tools in the drawers. I want to do something similar some day.

How do you like the length? Mine, although not near as sturdy, is about that length and I’m always wishing for more.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Kerux's profile


812 posts in 3879 days

#4 posted 10-22-2009 07:31 AM

Great day! How would you work on that? I’d be to afraid to marr it up.


View Thuan's profile


203 posts in 3813 days

#5 posted 10-22-2009 07:57 AM

If there was a game where one has to match a workbench to the lumberjock that built it, yours would be the first one solved. Clearly it is you, from the clean contemporary style to the old fashion details of your joinery. I can see why you had spent so much time on this. It goes from being a floor sample to show clients your craftsmanship, style and drawer upgrades. Then it goes on to its duty as the very thing that you would build the commissioned pieces on. This is a GREAT bench because it is as much a selling tool as it is a building tool.

-- Thuan

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3986 days

#6 posted 10-22-2009 08:18 AM

Hooray!!! Looks amazing, very, very cool, love it. Great work as always Brian.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


706 posts in 3268 days

#7 posted 10-22-2009 08:36 AM

Absolutely exquisite!

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 3241 days

#8 posted 10-22-2009 08:55 AM

Beautiful bench! I espically like how the legs and storage, not just a box of drawers plopped on top of stretchers.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View woodworm's profile


14468 posts in 3585 days

#9 posted 10-22-2009 10:46 AM

Great workbench.
Now you will woodworking in style, Brian.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Ken90712's profile


17556 posts in 3184 days

#10 posted 10-22-2009 10:55 AM

Something to be proud of…..I would be afriad to get stain or have take its first booboo, its so nice. Love the contrast in the shelves!

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

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1567 posts in 3560 days

#11 posted 10-22-2009 12:26 PM

Very nice! Yes it will out last you and probably the next few woodworkers too!

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Splinterman's profile


23074 posts in 3356 days

#12 posted 10-22-2009 12:39 PM

Hey Brian,

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1229 posts in 3994 days

#13 posted 10-22-2009 01:49 PM

Man o man, I love this bench. Very impressive. It’s sort of like by but 3 times as good! :-) I like the design with the solid legs. I would have used MDF but I suppose this works also.

The thing I’ve stuggled with is how to move it around easily. If you put wheels on it, it shakes a little when using a saw. How do you plan to move this?

Great job on the apron and especially the tool box.

This is a home run project for sure!!

-- Bob A in NJ

View TheDane's profile


5423 posts in 3658 days

#14 posted 10-22-2009 02:09 PM

Ten months? Time WELL SPENT! Nice work.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3817 days

#15 posted 10-22-2009 02:17 PM

Brian, this is a beautiful bench. It harkens back to a time when a woodworker’s accessories, tool tote for instance, served as a medium of advertisement that actively displayed his/her skills. Most of us focus on the functionality of shop furniture first and tend to forget that it can also look good as well. You certainly have married both form and function with this bench.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

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