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Affordable workbench: Hybrid of French and English styles

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Project by Dallas posted 11-16-2011 01:28 AM 4208 views 6 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve always wanted a stable woodworking bench. I read the blogs, books and articles extolling the various options and styles. I’m on a budget, so I made a low-cost blend that suits my needs.

I started off with a pile of leftover wood from a home build graciously given to be. First, I took some of the builder’s sawhorses, slapped on a support beam joist, and added a large apron with dog holes. It took me all of two hours.

I built a few fundamental shop devices like a sawbench, bench hooks, shooting boards, miter boxes, etc. after that.

Happy with the thick top and apron, I chose to scrap the sawhorse base and make something more solid. $40 later I had some super soft white pine at my disposal.

With 2”x6”s, I laminated the sizeable legs. The center board in the leg lam. was 2” longer to form a natural tenon. I chose to make the long and short stretchers at the same height without top stretchers of any sort. I wanted beefy legs and less need for many cross pieces.

After drawboring the stretchers, I mortised notches in the top to receive the leg tenons. After much banging, I had a solid and stable top. Lastly, I added dog holes to the top and legs, plus elected to make one side with a large apron – British-style.

So far, I have no complaints. My Veritas Wonder Pup and cheapo 6” wilton vise on the french side handle most sawing and planing operations. Holdfasts for chiseling. I plan to add the sliding deadman, replace the small face vise with a leg vise and build a crochet and/or Moxon-style vise.

Less than a hundred bucks. Can’t beat it! You can see me working on it here.

-- If a tree falls in the neighbor's woods, and no one is there to hear it...can you take it home, mill it and turn it into a coffee table without your neighbor making a sound?





13 comments so far

View TechRedneck's profile

TechRedneck

738 posts in 1509 days


#1 posted 11-16-2011 02:22 AM

Nice blend of styles. Thanks for the post.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

View schuft's profile

schuft

122 posts in 1259 days


#2 posted 11-16-2011 04:32 AM

Looks like a great bench. And I dig the hand tools collection! Did you surface the lumber by hand?

View oluf's profile

oluf

256 posts in 1691 days


#3 posted 11-16-2011 05:10 AM

Bravo and “right on ” You are the man. I like it when people are original and do things thair own way.

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

View Dallas's profile

Dallas

64 posts in 1617 days


#4 posted 11-16-2011 08:36 AM

Thanks for the comments.

The legs are Home Depot 2”x6” lumber. I chose carefully and the guy there was nice enough to cut them down into smaller pieces. I did plane them down and knock off the rounded corners. You don’t have to do that if you don’t want to.

The top is basically two large lengths of a large basement joist. They are laminates, so pretty stable. I didn’t really plane them much as there is glue just below the surface. If I batter it too much, I’ll add a fresh thin top layer out of ply or hardwood boards later.

Planed the apron on the British side down four square by hand.

I used a drill and forstner bit to rough out the mortises, and a chop saw to cut the base pieces to length. Everything else was handwork.

Also visible in the pictures are the two plane stops – one across the length of the bench and a square peg on one end. They can be dropped down to be flush with the bench top.

Thanks for checking it out. I hope it helps others who suffer from the same “bench envy” and “analysis paralysis” that I did before I bit the bullet and slapped one together. My favorite part was getting the mortises to fit. I’d never done that before.

-- If a tree falls in the neighbor's woods, and no one is there to hear it...can you take it home, mill it and turn it into a coffee table without your neighbor making a sound?

View Ken90712's profile

Ken90712

14922 posts in 1841 days


#5 posted 11-16-2011 01:15 PM

Well done, looks solid

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View MasterSergeant's profile

MasterSergeant

1288 posts in 1340 days


#6 posted 11-16-2011 01:38 PM

Thank-you very much for posting!! You got my mind working on my bench improvement now!!!

-- Kelly, woodworker under construction

View rightguard73's profile

rightguard73

4 posts in 1414 days


#7 posted 11-16-2011 03:33 PM

That is great work without great resources! You’ve helped me decide how to build my new bench.

View SnowFrog's profile

SnowFrog

102 posts in 1198 days


#8 posted 11-16-2011 05:27 PM

That is superb! Love it!
That is what I like to see, full functionality that everyone can afford. I love the vertical apron with the dog holes, I think this is brilliant. I’ll sure incorporate this one my next bench design.

-- One can dream, about a passion not yet fully fulfilled!

View jusfine's profile

jusfine

2280 posts in 1578 days


#9 posted 11-16-2011 06:13 PM

Very well done, Dallas!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3302 posts in 1306 days


#10 posted 11-16-2011 06:54 PM

this is a very solid design. Great work and I like the walkthrough.

The tiny version of a bent for a sawhorse was cool too.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Mauricio's profile

Mauricio

6818 posts in 1803 days


#11 posted 02-08-2012 06:16 PM

very cool bench1

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View whitewulf's profile

whitewulf

446 posts in 1589 days


#12 posted 02-18-2012 11:55 PM

A very useful bench I’m sure.
As can be seen from my LJ record I’ve lurked & posted Opinoins,
I just can’t get started on my bench. I always wondered why others did not utilise both sides of thier benches.

-- "ButI'mMuchBetterNow"

View Dallas's profile

Dallas

64 posts in 1617 days


#13 posted 02-19-2012 06:04 AM

I agree whitewulf. Ignoring the other side of your bench is sort of like having a car without a passenger door.

-- If a tree falls in the neighbor's woods, and no one is there to hear it...can you take it home, mill it and turn it into a coffee table without your neighbor making a sound?

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