Nicholson Work Bench

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Project by BrettMcD posted 05-03-2012 04:13 AM 12386 views 29 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well just barely finished my take on a Nicholson workbench and thought that I would share.


23 inches wide X 72 inches Long X 32 inches High

After agonizing and agonizing over which kind of workbench I wanted to build and have the “perfect” bench, I finally decided that I was going to go crazy if I read through Sam Allen’s book or Scott Landis’s book one more time. I searched everywhere I could on the Internet for way too long, this was driving me crazy. Then I finally stumbled onto Mike Siemsen’s blog and Bob over at the Logan Cabinet shoppe. I thought, “Hey, I have a fighting chance of actually completing that workbench.” So, long story short, I decided that a six foot long workbench was just a bit more than my tiny shop could handle…so that is how long I made it. I used to have a four foot workbench, and I LOVE the extra length. Best part about the workbench.

My wife got me the Large Front Vise from Veritas along with other wooworking tools for Christmas, so that is what I put on the front. Yep, she is absolutely a keeper. I really like how compact and well behaved this vise is. Not a lot of racking so far, I think I will eventually make a bunch of spacers for it. For now I just use whatever scrap piece of wood is lying around.

I am extremely proud of the vise handle as it is my FIRST ever turning on the lathe. I think it turned out really nice. I figure I spent about 6 hours on it and spent $10 on sand paper to replace a $6 vise handle. What more can I say? It was still a ton of fun.

No tail vise. Just a split top and a planing stop modeled after Ian Kirby. Simple, cheap so far. It is a fairly elegant solution, only time will tell if I want to get the Benchcrafted wagon vise if I ever build another workbench someday.

Front Apron is a 2X10 with a backer board behind it. The apron adds a ton of rigidity to the bench. It is absolutely stable even without stretchers on the bottom of the legs. Apron also has holes drilled into it for the Gramercy holdfasts. I’m really happy with that so far. The bench is extremely solid; I am very pleased with that.

In conclusion if you don’t have very many tools or clamps this is an excellent style to build. So far I am very impressed with the decision. NO workbench is “perfect” but this design has a lot going for it I like it. Thanks!

25 comments so far

View JohnnyB's profile


102 posts in 1808 days

#1 posted 05-03-2012 04:49 AM

I like it, particularly the way the split can be used to hold bench stops. I would add a couple more holes in line with the top holes in the apron to allow you to put in pegs to support longer workpieces for edge planing. That’s probably easier and quicker to use than holdfasts. This bench should serve you well.

-- JohnnyB - - Sometimes determination can substitute for skill.

View rmac's profile


198 posts in 2479 days

#2 posted 05-03-2012 05:34 AM

Nice bench!

To keep your vise from racking, try one of these gizmos. They work great:


-- My table saw laughs at hot dogs.

View MayflowerDescendant's profile


414 posts in 2206 days

#3 posted 05-03-2012 06:20 AM

AWESOME bench! The most important thing is that the design works for you. Congratulations. Enjoy! Thanks for sharing.

-- Glen - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

View Ken90712's profile


16864 posts in 2608 days

#4 posted 05-03-2012 07:39 AM

Great looking bench, well done.

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

View steliart's profile


1817 posts in 2107 days

#5 posted 05-03-2012 08:04 AM

very nice

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions - --

View schloemoe's profile


700 posts in 2357 days

#6 posted 05-03-2012 09:56 AM

I like the bench should be in my shop though.LOL ….........................Schloemoe

-- schloemoe, Oregon , http://www.

View Martyroc's profile


2711 posts in 1725 days

#7 posted 05-03-2012 11:41 AM

Great looking bench, nice work.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View sarahss's profile


258 posts in 2068 days

#8 posted 05-03-2012 01:20 PM

That looks great! Where did you find plans, or did you design it yourself?

View John's profile


341 posts in 3217 days

#9 posted 05-03-2012 01:30 PM

Nice bench! So those gramercy holdfasts have enough gripping surface on 2” thick lumber? Or does the backer board add thickness for more purchase? Some pics from the side and underneath would be awesome

-- John - Central PA -

View Dave's profile


11394 posts in 2259 days

#10 posted 05-03-2012 02:14 PM

A wonderful bench

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2074 days

#11 posted 05-03-2012 04:16 PM

The pics on this are great. This is the second time I have seen pictures that make something full size look miniature…it’s a very cool effect. How did you do that?

Also the bench is great…looks very fuss free and easy to build. I would love a picture of the guts of the bench as well…I am curious how the thing went together.

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

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3068 days

#12 posted 05-03-2012 04:52 PM

looks like a great bench, nice size, dimensions seem very balanced out, and from the sound of it – it works great too – which is all that matters really (although it helps that is looks this good too ;) )

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

View StumpyNubs's profile


6830 posts in 2220 days

#13 posted 05-03-2012 09:53 PM

I really like the Nicholson style bench. When we built the mini-cabinet maker’s bench on Blue Collar Woodworking we almost made it this style. But it was not suited to the compact size we wanted.

You’ve done a great job!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View oldreddog's profile


160 posts in 1752 days

#14 posted 05-03-2012 09:59 PM

I love this, I would like any plan info please.

-- oldreddog

View tsangell's profile


216 posts in 2112 days

#15 posted 05-03-2012 10:34 PM

Love it. The Nicholson bench is a great tool.

showing 1 through 15 of 25 comments

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