|Project by Brian Shourd||posted 04-21-2011 08:57 PM||3122 views||9 times favorited||20 comments|
After beginning woodworking last year, I realized pretty quickly that my little workmate knockoff wasn’t cutting it as a workbench. I built one of those fold-down workbenches that fits in between two of the studs in my workshop (garage), which was slightly better, but still had far too much play and not enough room. I also found that I didn’t like having one side permanently against the wall – I’d much rather be able to move around the bench and see all four corners.
So this year, my first project of the year was to make a new workbench. I wanted something sturdy and big, but not too expensive. I really like the look of the classic European bench that I see around all the time, but I just don’t have the resources or the experience to justify the laminated maple top.
The top on this bench is three layers of 3/4” birch plywood, and the rest is simple pine. I chose the birch because I understand it to be nice and hard, and the pine because of the relative expense. It’s joined with mortise and tenon, although the top is attached with threaded inserts and and stretchers are attached with a key block and long bolts. This is to allow me to tighten the bench if it gets loose from wood movement, and also to allow me to take the bench apart when I need to move. The finish is several coats of BLO. I actually really like the grain pattern in the plywood I got, I think that it is quite nice. Almost makes me feel bad when I’m banging on it.
Right now, I only had money to install a single vice. It’s a cheap Pony vice that I spray painted black (who wants a big orange hunk of metal on their bench?). I buried one jaw of the vice under the banding on the bench top. I’m still finding out my style as a woodworker, and my preferred tools and working method. As I figure out what I would best use, I will decide on other vices to install. For now, there is a small groove in the underside of the table on which I can hook clamps to clamp things to the sides when needed. This let’s me put clamp long boards in the vice along the front of the bench.
All in all, building the bench was great fun, although a bit difficult without a bench to work on. The only major mistake I made was in drilling the dog holes. I meant to make them 3/4”, so that I could use the standard bench dogs and accessories, but I accidentally grabbed my 7/8” bit instead! I didn’t notice until I went to put in some bench dogs and they fell right through. So it looks like it will be shop-made accessories for this bench, unless I decide to drill some more holes. From now on I’ll be measuring my bits before I drill.
Note that in this picture the bench is turned backward from how I usually use it. That way when I am at the front of the bench, all my tools are hung on the wall behind me.
Thanks for looking, let me know what you think. I really like my bench, but I might be just a little biased.