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My Perfect Workbench

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Project by jaysuzi posted 05-09-2016 07:00 PM 4790 views 22 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I don’t think there is such a thing as a single perfect workbench, but I think this one will fit my needs very well. I have just recently relocated my shop from my basement to my garage, where I have a lot more room. In my old shop, the only working surface that I had was a 2 foot by 4 foot table that served as my workbench, assembly table, and outfeed of my table saw. For this bench, the following were the key factors that I was considering:

1. It had to be fairly big. This will have to serve as both an assembly table and workbench, and be big enough so that I can have multiple small projects going on at one time.
2. It had to be fairly heavy and have a solid vise. I do not do a lot of hand tool work at this time, but I do look forward to doing more. When I had to do something in the past, it was always a pain and the only clamp I had was on a small Harbor Freight workbench that I really just use as a table for my sanders. It never held things solid.
3. I wanted to have quick access to my most used tools, but also have additional storage.
4. It needed to be mobile. I will want to occasionally bring one of the cars into the garage, so I needed to be able to move the bench to the other side of the garage.
5. It shouldn’t break the bank. I knew I would spend a bit on this, but I was trying to watch what I spent.
6. I was not looking to make an heirloom. I wanted to get something built relatively quickly and that I wouldn’t mind abusing.

I spent a lot of time looking at different designs and watching different videos trying to get ideas of what I wanted and even looked at purchasing a workbench, but the ones for sale didn’t meet all of my needs. Plus, I wanted the challenge of building one.

My main inspiration came from two sources. The first one was Wood magazine Issue 166 November 2005. In reality, this is about 90% built based upon following those plans. The second inspiration is from Jay Bates of Jay’s Custom Design. He recently did a build of a work bench and used construction grade material. Well if it is good enough for one Jay, it’s good enough for another.

Here is a breakdown of the components:

1. Top: I followed Jay’s pattern here, but made mine from 2×4 instead of 2×6. I jointed, planed, glued up in 4 board sets (so that I could rerun through my 6” jointer) then into 8 boards sets (2 – 4 board sections) then 3 of those into the final top at roughly 32” wide. I cut it down to 7 foot to take out any snipe or issues at the ends. Unfortunately, I had a slight crown in the center (which I could probably have hand planed down) and a dip on one edge. A dip is a lot harder to deal with than a high spot. After watching a Marc Spagnuolo (aka The Wood Whisperer), I followed his method of flattening a work bench with a router. My dip was fairly significant, so I planned on doing the flattening in two passes. It was going great and I was working on the final pass when disaster struck. My router bit dropped from the collet. I didn’t realize right away and put a big grove across the width of my table. Well, that meant another pass and in the end, the top is less thick than I was originally planning, but it is flat and plenty sturdy for my needs.
2. Base: I followed Wood magazine plans fairly closely here with the design. It is done with split-mortise, through-tenon joints, so it can be done on the table saw without hand chisels. The stretchers are stub tenon along with mechanical fasteners, which required just a little bit of hand tool cleanup. The top and base are also held together by mechanical fasteners. This will allow me to take it apart if I want to move it, or upgrade the top or base later on. This design does not allow for leg clamps or clamping large pieces to the side of the workbench. For some, this would be a major design issues, for me, this is not a big deal. I work on small projects, and I have never had a need to do this.
3. Storage: I built an under-bench cabinet. Again, following the Wood magazine’s plans fairly closely. However, their design had doors on one half. I decided that I wanted 6 drawers instead. Then from watching Jay’s video, I decided to go with a split design so that I would have a set of drawers on each side of the bench. I think this will work out well. I haven’t figured out exactly how I will organize it, but feel I will dedicate sides for different types of work.
4. Addition storage: Also from Wood magazine was the idea of the hanging tool trays. This allows for a convenient place to put the tools instead of having them on the workbench. I made one for each side. For me, I like this design better than the split top bench.
5. Vices: I was heavily influenced by Jay on these. The side vice was bought on a whim. I hadn’t decided on what vice I would go with, when I watched Jay’s video. In the comments, he posted a link to the one he used. When I went there, Amazon had an open boxed one at a great savings. I picked it up. It is a 10 inch quick release, very heavy vice. More than I needed, but the price was right. The end vice is another recommendation by Jay, using bar clamps. For about $36 I got a very solid end vice that can open up to a crazy amount. I left the bars long for now and may actually use them for some glue ups.
6. Casters: I usually buy cheap casters and then am disappointed with them. I knew for this project I wanted something good, but also something that lifted up so that the bench sat on the ground. Woodcraft had a sale of these just at the right time,
7. Paper Roll: Since this will also be an assembly table, and even finishing table, I wanted to protect the top a bit. This is another idea from Jay. Having a roll of craft paper this handy will mean that I will actually use it.

Final Cost:

-- Jay in Pennsylvania, http://hobby4charity.org/





15 comments so far

View Sergio's profile

Sergio

462 posts in 2083 days


#1 posted 05-09-2016 08:06 PM

Great job, enjoy it!

-- - Greetings from Brazil - --

View fivecodys's profile

fivecodys

547 posts in 1027 days


#2 posted 05-09-2016 08:08 PM

Looks like a great bench to me!
Love the floor too.

-- Chem, Central California

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

22527 posts in 2257 days


#3 posted 05-09-2016 08:30 PM

You did a nice job on this bench.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- 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 pottz's profile

pottz

709 posts in 375 days


#4 posted 05-09-2016 11:06 PM

you did a great job on that,and your right their is no one size fits all i just completed my own ultimate bench that works for me but might not for others.i like how you used the pipe clamps,you dont need expensive vises to hold something as long as it works why spend more.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View Woodwrecker's profile

Woodwrecker

3886 posts in 2966 days


#5 posted 05-10-2016 04:15 AM

Nice work Jay.
That came out great and will no doubt up your game.

-- Eric, central Florida

View Colin's profile

Colin

157 posts in 754 days


#6 posted 05-10-2016 06:00 AM

Nice bench Jay – I particularly like the paper roll – can I steal please?

-- Live Forever...............or Die Trying

View albachippie's profile

albachippie

756 posts in 2426 days


#7 posted 05-10-2016 08:05 AM

Very nice bench indeed, and very nicely made. I like the attention paid to the storage drawers etc. I can see something like this in my future when I make my new bench next year.

Is the frame and top all pine?

Excellemnt Work,

Garry

-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Garry-Macdonald-Woodwork/425518554215355?ref=hl

View jaysuzi's profile

jaysuzi

139 posts in 1191 days


#8 posted 05-10-2016 12:23 PM

Thank you. Yes, the top and frame are all construction grade pine. The Wood magazine article suggested using Ash, which would have been great, but still would have been a bit too much to spend at this time.


Very nice bench indeed, and very nicely made. I like the attention paid to the storage drawers etc. I can see something like this in my future when I make my new bench next year.

Is the frame and top all pine?

Excellemnt Work,

Garry

- albachippie


-- Jay in Pennsylvania, http://hobby4charity.org/

View CincyRW's profile

CincyRW

156 posts in 1041 days


#9 posted 05-10-2016 12:42 PM

Thats a great bench. Is that a removable tool tray in the front? If so, what a great idea. I also really like the idea of putting a roll of kraft paper at the end. I have a new bench in my future – maybe in another year or so. Seeing these ideas are helpful.

View jaysuzi's profile

jaysuzi

139 posts in 1191 days


#10 posted 05-10-2016 05:38 PM

Yes, the tool trays are removable and I have one on each side. I can’t take credit for either of these ideas. The trays are from Wood magazine and the paper is from Jay Bates and Nick Ferry, but I do know a good idea when I see one.


Thats a great bench. Is that a removable tool tray in the front? If so, what a great idea. I also really like the idea of putting a roll of kraft paper at the end. I have a new bench in my future – maybe in another year or so. Seeing these ideas are helpful.

- CincyRW


-- Jay in Pennsylvania, http://hobby4charity.org/

View JRAP's profile

JRAP

45 posts in 1340 days


#11 posted 05-10-2016 06:20 PM

Great job… love the end vice… I think you ended up with an heirloom anyway.

-- -- Jim, Cumberland,RI -- Life is all the other stuff you do when you're not in the shop. - http://www.woodshopshed.com

View majuvla's profile

majuvla

8346 posts in 2258 days


#12 posted 05-10-2016 06:43 PM

Realy clean and proffesional work. It’s full of smart solutions and good ideas and details. Proof that with some effort man can make such wonderful bench for his needs.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Will50's profile

Will50

22 posts in 723 days


#13 posted 05-11-2016 05:12 AM

Super nice bench. I’m planning a new bench for my shop and yours has a lot of the elements I want in a bench. Great job!

-- Our's is not to reason why, our's is but to shuck and jive!

View DPWoodworking305's profile

DPWoodworking305

41 posts in 137 days


#14 posted 05-11-2016 01:18 PM

Beautiful!! Great job!

-- D.Pesic

View JSB's profile

JSB

736 posts in 1469 days


#15 posted 05-20-2016 01:31 AM

Looks great and good job on the cost tally :)

-- Jay - http://www.jayscustomcreations.com

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