|Project by lumberjoe||posted 320 days ago||4025 views||38 times favorited||21 comments|
The Goal Build a workbench for not a single penny over $100.00, and get it done in less than a week (working only a few hours a day). We just moved to a new house and our savings took a massive hit. Also according to my wife, the inside of the house needs some attention too so I can’t spend all my time in the garage. Apparently I’m the only one that is not bothered living out of boxes :)
The Plan Super simple. The frame is made of laminated 2×4’s. Rather than cut half laps, I just boxed the joints in. This added a lot of mass and drastically cut down on construction time (hot hide glued and screwed). As anyone who as made a bench knows, getting the top flat is not easy. I decided to make it easy buy using a Jeld Wen solid core door. This thing is HEAVY and only cost me about $45.00
The Challenges Solid core doors are not solid wood. They are filled with MDF like fluff. Since I would be using bench dogs, I knew that would be an issue. When we moved in, the previous owners left some super ugly 12’ long 6/4 oak in the garage. I sent it through the planer and cut a couple long strips and attached them under where the dog holes are. I’m hoping that does the trick, but am a little weary. Option B will be to buy 1 1/2” maple dowels, insert those, then drill them out for dog holes.
Also since I could spend exactly 0 dollars on any hardware, I obviously need some sort of vises. I have a 30 year old 6” Craftsman screw that was my dads. Over my life I have probably used this vise more than he has. It works, but isn’t a fits’s all solution. I put it at the end. At the other end I made a 6” solid wood extension where I store my Woodriver bubinga handled chisels, some measuring tools, and I cut a pencil tray because I always lose pencils that roll off the bench.
The Awesome Part Is Paul’s (Shipwright’s) 8 degree wedge powered leg vise. This thing is a miracle, innovative, and an absolute pleasure to use. It was an afterthought on this bench, but it worked out perfect. I cannot thank Paul enough for his help and for this amazing design. It didn’t take me long to make and after a few tweaks, it works awesome. I could elaborate on the design, but Paul tells the story better than I do, and I have already written enough. I also copied his “dog hole deadman” design.
This vise is exceptionally easy to use once you figure it out. Figuring out took me about 5 minutes. It is also exceptionally strong. During the installation and tinkering, I clamped down this 4 foot long 8/4 piece of ash and was able to lift the entire bench off the floor. I could not shake it loose.
The Other Details
The finish is BLO followed by 2 coats of danish oil. The 2×4’s are painted with some leftover super expensive Bear paint we had from our old house. It could use another coat or 2. Why isn’t the vise finished? Because Paul was kind enough to offer me the same V8 marquetry logo that is on his vise. I have used this bench a bit in the process of building it – including face jointing that 8/4 ash leg vise with a Stanley No7. It worked really well! Absolutely no racking or dancing around, and I put everything I had in me behind that plane (the ash was rough sawn and uncooperative) .
I am using poplar dowels for bench dogs now, but ordered a set of the Kreg ones from woodcraft. They are about 8$ for 4 of them, and they can also be used as bench cookies as they have a non-stick pad on the top of them. Once our savings recovers a bit I am also going to get a couple holdfasts.
All said and done, it’s nice to have a “proper” bench. It’s not going to win any beauty contests that’s for sure. But I am confident even a woodworker much more experienced than myself would find this bench is up to the task. If you are on a tight budget, it’s worth a shot.