First project - hard maple workbench

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Project by Lou_S posted 07-13-2011 05:22 AM 6165 views 9 times favorited 31 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My first real woodworking project. I started it August 2010 and I finished it February working mostly nights and some Saturdays. It started out as a butcher block that my father-in-law actually butchered on in the 60s until they went to plastic butcher tops in the late 60s. He kept it in his basement as his workbench until 2009, but the original top was deeply gouged with many valleys and dips because the butchers would clean it with giant wire brushes that over the years wore away the hard maple. Some valleys were about an inch below the original top making the original top unusable for what I had in mind for a workbench. So I flipped it over and used the bottom surface (which was not exactly flat either but much better) as my new top. I joined the new edges to add square dog holes and end-caps on the long-ends, so you cannot see the original top unless you look underneath the bench. You can see the color difference between the new wood and the original butcher block. I flattened the new top with a track jig and router, and finished with a random orbital sander. I also added a Veritas twin screw as a side vice and a front vice that I found in my wife’s grandfather’s basement. For the legs I used 16/4 hard maple and 8/4 for everything else. The base is designed to knock-down the long stretchers, and has leveling feet since my garage floor is very uneven by design. I finished with Minwax Tung Oil Finish, which is probably the wrong product to use, but it is what I had at the time. 100% pure tung oil or Watco would probably have been better.

Overall I am happy with the result and it is solid as a rock. Eventually I may add drawers, but that long top stretcher, which was probably overkill, takes away a lot of useable space.

-- Lou

31 comments so far

View MShort's profile


1789 posts in 3417 days

#1 posted 07-13-2011 05:39 AM

Nice Bench.

-- Mike, Missouri --- “A positive life can not happen with a negative mind.” ---

View dwlckn's profile


47 posts in 2562 days

#2 posted 07-13-2011 06:34 AM

Nice bench, to nice I’d be afraid to use it but maybe if my bench was hard maple it wouldn’t get damaged so easily. Keep up the good work.

-- “Enjoy what you do, or do something else!”

View Transition's profile


340 posts in 2542 days

#3 posted 07-13-2011 06:49 AM

Very nice! I like the dovetailed end. May I suggest that you start working on toys… now!

-- Andrew, Orange County, CA -

View Transition's profile


340 posts in 2542 days

#4 posted 07-13-2011 06:51 AM

And I love the history! My Grandfather’s ghost stands behind me. I just wish that I could hear him as I’m sure I’d make fewer mistakes!

-- Andrew, Orange County, CA -

View Chris Wainscott's profile

Chris Wainscott

24 posts in 2690 days

#5 posted 07-13-2011 07:23 AM

very nice indeed


View Konquest's profile


171 posts in 3442 days

#6 posted 07-13-2011 07:25 AM

You’ve got a bench haunted by the spirits of thousands of slaughtered cows, pigs, and chickens. Don’t be surprised if you hear some barnyard noises coming from the garage at night.

-- 9 3/4 fingers remaining.

View Hallmark's profile


432 posts in 3105 days

#7 posted 07-13-2011 11:24 AM

Very nice story and a great looking sturdy bench. It looks like another generation will add too it’s legacy.

-- Style is simple, but not my execution of it.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4217 days

#8 posted 07-13-2011 02:23 PM

Great story… great bench!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Lou_S's profile


17 posts in 2509 days

#9 posted 07-13-2011 02:40 PM

Thank you for the compliments. My wife did wonder why we had a workbench that was nicer than the dining room table, but that was a few months ago and there are some nice gouges in it now. :)

-- Lou

View A Slice of Wood Workshop's profile

A Slice of Wood Workshop

1071 posts in 3172 days

#10 posted 07-13-2011 02:43 PM

Lou, really great looking bench. It looks very nice. I like the dovetails ends a lot, i think it changes the looks from plain to fancy.

@konquest- haha you never think of animal ghosts, only human ghosts remaining.

-- Follow me on YouTube-

View Bertha's profile


13528 posts in 2692 days

#11 posted 07-13-2011 02:44 PM

It’s fantastic! Did you leave the underside gouged or did you plane it? If it’s still gouged, I’d love to see a picture of it. That’s too freakin cool.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View fernandoindia's profile


1081 posts in 2942 days

#12 posted 07-13-2011 03:45 PM

Welcome to LJ´s Lou. Have fun.
Nice story on the bench, neat idea turning the top.

-- Back home. Fernando

View Willie1031's profile


141 posts in 2536 days

#13 posted 07-13-2011 05:04 PM

Thats the table I envisioned when we were getting under our desks during tornado drills. Very nice.

-- A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval. -- Mark Twain

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3647 days

#14 posted 07-13-2011 05:34 PM

looks great and solid! has a very polished look to it (top/joinery/etc).

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3049 days

#15 posted 07-13-2011 06:39 PM

That looks like a great workbench that should serve you well for many years. I like the history behind it as well.

I agree with the others in that it has a nice solid, well-built look to it, with the extra details being the icing on the cake (dovetails, etc.).

Welcome to LumberJocks!

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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