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Burr oak workbench

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Project by JayT posted 11-25-2018 08:17 PM 1202 views 2 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Decided to upgrade my workbench this year. My previous bench has been a workhorse for the past five years, but over that time how I work and the projects I’m focusing on have changed. In response, I decided it would be easier and better to build a new bench instead of modifying the previous one. Went back with a design based on a Holtzapffel bench, with some modifications to better meet my personal needs.

Made a visit to my sawyer to see what he had available for bench material. Among other pieces, he had a stack of short and wide 6/4 burr oak that all had defects so was willing to sell for a bargain price. I was able to sort through and come up with enough good pieces for legs, stretchers and vise. Then we went to look for a top. He had several possibilities of 8/4 that could be ripped and laminated and then showed me a few burr oak slabs. I have always loved the look of slab benches and this became my opportunity to build one. Sorted through and selected one. Hauled it all home and got ready to work.

For those out there that think a good workbench is going to cost an arm and a leg, that’s just not the case if you are willing to do a bit of work and understand that a bench doesn’t need to be made of furniture quality wood. By being willing to start with stock that was not desirable to others, whether due to length, warp or other defects, I was able to purchase all the wood for under $300.

Bench was built in a true hybrid manner. Hand planes to flatten, joint and smooth. Band saw, drill press and planer to dimension and rough out mortises and tenons. Took a few weeks longer than I had planned to get completed, but I’m very happy with the results. With careful selection and milling of the 6/4 stock, there was plenty for the base and I was able to use the pieces with more character on the front—QS for one leg and the vise chop and worm-holed pieces for the front stretcher and vise leg.

Bench is 38in tall, 60in long and ~20in deep, with the top being about 3-3/4 thick after working out some twist and flattening. The slab for the top ended up about 17-1/2 wide, so in order to get a bit more width, I decided on a tool slot across the back. I had found the end cap tool slot very useful on the previous bench, so this made a good opportunity to combine the benefits of a tool slot with the need for additional width.

Vise is a Veritas twin screw chain vise, purchased secondhand from fellow LJ woodcox when he upgraded recently. Jaws are leather lined. I wanted the rear of the vise to be the front of the bench, not an additional jaw that extended out even further from the bench. Instructions didn’t have any help for that eventuality, but some creative problem solving allowed it to happen. Front chop is chamfered to reduce the likelihood of hitting a sharp corner.

Bench is finished with Danish oil—dark walnut on the base and natural on the top and vise.

All in all, I’m very satisfied with the result. My old bench has served well for many years, but this one should be even better, due to a better understanding of how I work and my needs.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson





20 comments so far

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10756 posts in 1690 days


#1 posted 11-25-2018 08:28 PM

Impressive bud. You really knocked this one out.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Andre's profile

Andre

2223 posts in 2010 days


#2 posted 11-25-2018 08:49 PM

Very nice, love the character that Oak shows! Looking back wish I had made my bench a little nicer.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8525 posts in 2781 days


#3 posted 11-25-2018 09:51 PM

Now that’s a beefy bench, good job JayT!

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6305 posts in 3398 days


#4 posted 11-26-2018 12:25 AM

Stellar job on building the work bench…..A good sturdy work bench is a must have in the woodshop….Needs to be beefy, stout, and does not rack when applying pressure to the top as in planeing, sawing, etc…..You really knocked this one out of the park…..Excellent…..!! It will last you many years to come…..!!

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....!!

View Brit's profile

Brit

7545 posts in 3046 days


#5 posted 11-26-2018 12:35 AM

Well done Jay. That’s gonna be a pleasure to work on.

-- https://www.clickasnap.com/Andy61 - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

1721 posts in 778 days


#6 posted 11-26-2018 01:50 AM

Nice bench.

Thanks for posting, always fun to see bench builds.

-- Think safe, be safe

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

7143 posts in 1342 days


#7 posted 11-26-2018 02:16 AM

Nice work Jay. Something about a beefy oak bench just feels right. Well thought out and intentionally executed should make for a lifetime bench!

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View swirt's profile

swirt

3447 posts in 3176 days


#8 posted 11-26-2018 03:26 AM

Excellent work on that bench.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10756 posts in 1690 days


#9 posted 11-26-2018 03:27 AM

Yeah. My next one is gonna be red oak :( I hate. Red oak. I will think of this one wistfully when working my red oak.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View JayT's profile

JayT

5961 posts in 2415 days


#10 posted 11-26-2018 03:37 AM

Thanks all for the comments and compliments

Fridge, if you want to make a long road trip, I’d send you the name of my sawyer. I was really hoping to do a locust top, either black or honey, but the only slabs he had were the burr oak. All the locust was 8/4, so would have to have been laminated. Slab top took precedence over species preference.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

10170 posts in 2655 days


#11 posted 11-26-2018 04:24 AM

Great bench Jay, you should be set for life. I like the grain on the legs as well as the chop. Good looking work overall.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Don W's profile

Don W

19018 posts in 2771 days


#12 posted 11-26-2018 09:47 AM

Excellent work JayT. Your going to love working on it.

-- http://timetestedtools.net - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

8166 posts in 3002 days


#13 posted 11-26-2018 02:33 PM

Really nice work! A very personal bench with a lot of your thought and planning built in. You will be able to enjoy that every time you use it. You can’t beat that feeling.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese! http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

View woodcox's profile

woodcox

2160 posts in 2216 days


#14 posted 11-26-2018 02:51 PM

Congrats with the new workbench, JayT. Fine work sir.

-- "My god has more wood than your god" ... G. Carlin.

View ToddJB's profile

ToddJB

8294 posts in 2334 days


#15 posted 11-26-2018 04:31 PM

Looks like a heck of an addition to the shop. Congrats, JayT

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

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