My Not So Big Workbench

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Project by Sandra posted 06-20-2013 05:20 PM 4404 views 31 times favorited 62 comments Add to Favorites Watch

At long last, my workbench is done. If you’ve read any of my posts, you will know that I owe a lot of thanks to many lumberjocks who answered my questions along the way and gave me a few good doses of encouragement.

Design – This is designed by Ed Pirnik at Fine WoodWorking. I chose this bench in part because of the smaller size, but also because I was able to purchase the paper plans and watch the video segments on the Fine WW website.
This was invaluable to me. I learn best by watching and I watched each segment numerous times.
The videos are well done and move along at a reasonable pace.
I also chose this project to challenge myself and learn new skills. Huge understatement. I still can’t believe I actually did it.

Size – The finished dimensions of my benchtop are 58” x 23” x 2.5. I altered the plans slightly so that the finished height was 34.5” which works well for my height.

Materials. The base of the bench is made of yellow birch and held together by 16 pinned mortise and tenon joints.
There are two large boxes that house the drawers, each is made of 3/4 ply, held together with splines.
The drawers themselves are box jointed plywood and the drawer fronts are walnut.
The bench top is hard maple.

Finish – The drawers and base have a coat of wipe-on poly. The bench is still bare. I may leave it that way for now, while I’m still working on my hand planing.

All the lumber was purchased rough.

Firsts -
splines, box joints, mortises, recessed drawer pulls, large glue up, dressing large amounts of stock, etc etc…

Biggest challenge was the benchtop. Physically, it was a challenge dealing with all that hard maple, which I bought for $1.50 bf (!!!) The glue up was difficult and flattening the top was brutal. I think I’ve traced the problem back to jointing. I must be doing something wrong on the jointer, because that would explain why my router sled didn’t give me good results (jointed the rails) and why the glue up was a challenge.

At the end of the day, the top is flat, albeit with several small areas of tear out and a few router marks. I decided to keep it that way, because while I’m pleased with how the bench looks, it’s a workbench and I intend it to get many dings, dents and marks along the way.

Plane stop – photo 5 shows the plane stop partly pulled out. It’s stored in a routered slot under the bench. DUH! photo 6 shows the plane stop in the vise. I just realized however that the benchdog is on the wrong side. When I actually use it, I’ll have to slide the stop to the other side.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

62 comments so far

View Sanding2day's profile


984 posts in 692 days

#1 posted 06-20-2013 05:27 PM

Awesome bench Sandra, grats on its completion, and the magnificent deal on the maple… Lucky Certain the bench will serve you well… Thanks for sharing…

-- Dan

View Brandon's profile


4145 posts in 1797 days

#2 posted 06-20-2013 05:28 PM

Very nice, Sandra! This is an excellent bench and should be a great tool for your all your woodworking projects to come. Congrats on finishing such a fine project.

Love the way those SW chisels look in the drawer, too!

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Sandra's profile


5441 posts in 921 days

#3 posted 06-20-2013 05:30 PM

Thanks gents.
Brandon, I have more Kaizen foam just waiting for me…... Not sure which other drawers I’ll do.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View Sodabowski's profile


2123 posts in 1679 days

#4 posted 06-20-2013 05:30 PM

Way to go lady, way to go! I don’t know of many girls that would attempt building a workbench, let alone complete it. Now to add some glitter and pink paint? :)

-- Holy scrap Barkman!

View Sandra's profile


5441 posts in 921 days

#5 posted 06-20-2013 05:33 PM

Thanks Thomas. No pink paint for me. Unless I cut my finger with my chisel while using white paint. ;)
I appreciate the comment. I still get funny looks at Home Depot sometimes.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View Sodabowski's profile


2123 posts in 1679 days

#6 posted 06-20-2013 05:34 PM

Kidding of course ;) So, what’s next now that you have the perfect workbench?

-- Holy scrap Barkman!

View Sandra's profile


5441 posts in 921 days

#7 posted 06-20-2013 05:35 PM

Now that I have a sturdy bench, I was thinking I’d try my hand at something smaller, like a tea box.
No big glue ups for awhile…

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4166 posts in 1702 days

#8 posted 06-20-2013 05:37 PM

Sandra, very well done. It looks the dogs …......... really nice.
That is going to be a pleasure to work on.
I bet that you have muscles you never knew about after that.
The sky is now the limit.
My bench top is still sitting on an old steel frame :(, fancy finishing
mine? Scotland is nice this time of the year.

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Sodabowski's profile


2123 posts in 1679 days

#9 posted 06-20-2013 05:37 PM

Sounds like handcut dovetails and marquetry to me!

-- Holy scrap Barkman!

View luv2learn's profile


1987 posts in 1148 days

#10 posted 06-20-2013 05:37 PM

This is a great looking bench Sandra. Kudos to you for jumping right in on a project of this caliber. You said you learn by watching, you might also add you learn by doing. You identified some problem areas during your build and now you will investigate some solutions. That is the essence of becoming a better woodworker. Again, great job.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View Airspeed's profile


425 posts in 748 days

#11 posted 06-20-2013 05:38 PM

Your bench looks great! I’m jealous!


View DamnYankee's profile


3275 posts in 1408 days

#12 posted 06-20-2013 05:40 PM


-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View BigRedKnothead's profile


6504 posts in 828 days

#13 posted 06-20-2013 05:45 PM

Yippee! I’m so glad you built instead of bought. Bet you learned a lot. Seeing yours, now I really wanna use walnut for the drawer fronts on my next bench. Careful, after some time passes you might start thinking about what you would do if you built …..another bench;-)

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View waho6o9's profile (online now)


5760 posts in 1422 days

#14 posted 06-20-2013 05:53 PM

Love me some recessed drawer pulls.

Congrats on a fine work bench Sandra!

View Ed Pirnik's profile

Ed Pirnik

83 posts in 1676 days

#15 posted 06-20-2013 05:58 PM

Fantastic, Sandra! So glad you posted the photographs and that you successfully completed the build!

-- Ed Pirnik, Fine Woodworking Web Producer

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