Australian hardwood workbench

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Project by aussiegreg posted 09-30-2016 06:07 PM 1348 views 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a partially finished workbench made out of re-cycled and old seasoned hardwood. The bench itself is finished apart from the addition of dog-holes, and there will be some double sided tool drawers under at a later stage. I will also be adding a leg vise based on the fantastic design by Shipwright’s V8 degree …. I just love his use of simple wedges and I will be developing some clamps based on these simple techniques.
The finished bench will weigh over 300kg so I made it so that it can be dismantled if need be. The two end frames are complete and the top and side rails can be unbolted. The front face of the bench is completely flush so that large panels can be held in the future leg vise with a support cleat clamped to the RH leg.
The timber used for the frame is a mix of Ironbark and Spotted Gum both seasoned for a minimum 15 years….. anyone experienced with Australian hardwood would know how hard that is and I think that you could just about weld it! I had a stack of 120×35mm and decided to use that and laminate the end frames and top rails where I needed substance (the legs finish 115mm square). As I did not want any racking in the bench I relied on tight mortise and tenon joints and the laminating method meant that it is very easy to get extremely accurate joints through and stopped joints with extra strength coming from dowelling the laminations.
The top is made of 60 year old recycled Red Ironbark floor joists with the old nailholes drilled and plugged. This timber has a Janka hardness rating of 16N (3500lbf) so is harder than ebony or cocobolo. Due to its mass and hardness I chose not to use a really thick top such as a Roubo style. The top is 35mm thick and supported on cross joists at approx. 300 cs so is very solid for my purpose as I do not do wood carving. Future dog holes will be at the joists so will be 65mm deep and can be deepened further if required by local addition under the joist. This arrangement allows for maximum flexibility with clamping which is important for me as I need to glue up panels, doors, etc. The space between the joists allows for cauls to be slipped under the top which helps clamping but also allows for extending the width for gluing from the 800mm bench width to over 1500. The middle section of the top is Bloodwood with the tool tray and the reversable planing stop being removable so that a variety of clamping options are possible in the middle of the bench. The flexibility of this top leads to a number of clamping options and I have several in mind using cauls and wedges. I would be particularly interested in any ideas from Shipwright or other Lumberjocks that have an interest in using imagination together with simple wedges, etc.
This is a work in progress with a lot more to do before completion, but already it has given me a lot of pleasure as it is so good to work on, even better than the pair of sawhorses and sheet of MDF that I have used for 40 years!
I hope you find this interesting and thanks for spending the time to look at my project.
regards aussiegreg

ps. I apologise for the standard of the photos as I had trouble loading bigger and better files. If anybody can give me advice I would like to post some better photos.

-- aussiegreg, Toowoomba Australia

3 comments so far

View MilFlyer's profile


941 posts in 1907 days

#1 posted 09-30-2016 08:27 PM

Wow! Now THAT is a good lookin’ work bench. I’d end up treating it like furniture and not doing any work on it for fear of scratching it! Seriously, great lookin’ work!

-- VR, Richard "Fear is nothing more than a feeling. You feel hot. You feel hungry. You feel angry. You feel afraid. Fear can never kill you"--Remo Williams

View bobasaurus's profile


3546 posts in 3419 days

#2 posted 09-30-2016 09:12 PM

That looks super sturdy and very useful. And your workmanship is amazing, it’s basically fine furniture.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View BurlyBob's profile


6030 posts in 2501 days

#3 posted 09-30-2016 11:22 PM

I’ve got to agree. Wood that beautiful should be treated like a workbench. One thing that I noticed was how you placed the tool crib at one end of the bench. How very interesting!. Something I’m going to consider when I start my bench.

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