My first workbench build

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Project by louxwe posted 08-13-2013 05:41 AM 3186 views 11 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Okay so I read Chris Schwarz workbench book and a couple others and multiple online searches and I ended up stealing a bit from everyone and coming up with a great solution for me. First of this isn’t one of those beautiful handcrafted work of art workbenches who wants one of those things (well me actually but I don’t have the money to buy one nor the skill to build one yet), so I designed something that could be made out of Lowes/HomeDepot crappy cheap wood, some of it from the el cheap’o throw away bin (used my DeWalt planer to plane it down a bit in thickness and get it mostly straight). I didn’t want to have to try to make complicated mortise and tenon joints, but I wanted the thing to be super beefy and thick, so the legs are made out of 4 pieces of 2×6 with strategically cut slots by the jigsaw so that when it is all glued up I have holes for the legs and cross members.

The top is 4 sheets of 3/4 MDF (heavy as hell) and most everything is glued and screwed and also used the KREG pocket jig (I love that damn thing) I started by cutting the 4 sheets of MDF to exact size and laying them down on the floor, then I cut the wood for the outer skirt to exactly fit the MDF sheets, glued and screwed it together, then glued and screwed supporting members for the bottom all while it was upside down on the floor, then I glued up the legs, and cut holes into the bottom 3 layers of MDF to mate up with the legs, then attached the legs, braces, and the top skirt all together then just put each layer of the MDF on and screwed each down and then the top layer of MDF went on. I like this because, I didn’t have to find good straight lumber to glue together and then plane down to absolutely flat…. not sure I am good enough to do this, plus now when the top layer of MDF is all old and dirty and mangled and can just take it off and replace the top layer.

I also put on and end vice and made a leg vice with a ACME screw and a linear bearing to keep it straight (saw this on the internet and looked really cool, it works okay but not as good as the one I saw on Wood Whisperer, I had a brass bushing, in the bench leg to support the ACME screw but it was too tight so I put in a piece of PVC pipe but it is too loose???) I added a shelf underneath to hold all of my tools and the shop vac just barely fits underneath (yeah sure I planned it that way !)this is great because I have a very small shop so now the vac is out of the way and it is very easy to attach the hose to my tools as I am working at the bench. I also added those cool wheels the pop the legs up so you can move it, I followed Chris’s advice and made it as long as I could but still be able to roll it outside. Since I live in Phoenix it is nice to be able to roll it outside and work in the fresh air basically 9 months of the year.

Biggest problem is that from the last picture you can see that the middle of the MDF sheet on top is not exactly flush with the skirt of the bench… it’s not perfect but still the top seems pretty flat to me…. good enough for the girls I go with, but I might try to fix it later. Also not so sure where exactly to put all of my 3/4 holes for dogs and clamps, any suggestions.

Overall I am really pleased since, 1) I got all of the basic functions that I wanted thanks to Chris’s workbench 2)saved quite a bit of money over some of the fancier ones, 3)Damn that thing is heavy as hell and rock solid and it will be a good bench for me to get better at more traditional woodworking but I can use it for a bunch of other tasks 4) the wheels are really great and well worth the money for being able to roll it around and you can also pop the wheels up to raise the bench and do other tasks that work better with a higher bench.

If anyone has any questions about building something similar let me know I have Google SketchUp plans and a whole bunch of pictures of the construction steps.


16 comments so far

View hoss12992's profile


4071 posts in 2066 days

#1 posted 08-13-2013 05:58 AM

Great job, Im sure you will get alot of use from your new bench

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View Ken90712's profile


17592 posts in 3361 days

#2 posted 08-13-2013 09:00 AM

well done,,, should serve you well.

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

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 1997 days

#3 posted 08-13-2013 10:47 AM

Very nice bench…looks like you should get quite a few years of enjoyment out of it.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View Belg1960's profile


1075 posts in 3238 days

#4 posted 08-13-2013 11:30 AM

Great worker!!! It doesn’t need to be super fancy to be a great bench. The only thing that has me a little wondering is the mdf top and the end vise. How did you attach it?

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15647 posts in 2791 days

#5 posted 08-13-2013 11:47 AM


I want to read your paragraph but keep losing my place. Would you consider an Edit to add some paragraph breaks in the text?

Love the bench, looks like a heavyweight for sure!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View louxwe's profile


16 posts in 2117 days

#6 posted 08-13-2013 03:15 PM

The skirt around the top is about 5+ inches and the 4 MDF pieces for the top are about 3 inches so I have a couple of inches underneath to put the mounting for the end vice and didn’t have to cut into the bottom layers of MDF, just had to cut about a 1 inch notch in the bottom side of the skirt. So far the end vice has gotten a lot of work, it is very long so I have been using it with my circular saw to cut up larger pieces of wood. Still haven’t quite got the quick release mechanism working smoothly? Is there some kind of trick to that?

View baileyst's profile


50 posts in 1946 days

#7 posted 08-13-2013 06:58 PM

Looks like a great bench. I’m kinda of in the same boat as you I love the high dollar fancy benches but I think my wife would kill me if I spent that kind of money. So my bench will probably be made from supplies at lowes I hope mine turns out half as nice as yours. You built a great bench.

-- Bailey Indiana

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15647 posts in 2791 days

#8 posted 08-13-2013 07:03 PM

Sorry, no quick release on my end vise, but one I used to have just needed a turn counter-clockwise to release a cam underneath. The vise could then be pulled out.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Belg1960's profile


1075 posts in 3238 days

#9 posted 08-14-2013 12:25 AM

Ive taken mine apart completely used some dry lube(teflon) and filed any casting ridges on the nut. Make sure it is in properly as I had mine confused at one time which was a duhhh moment, but I was in a hurry to finish AGAIN!! Live and learn.

-- ***Pat*** Rookie woodworker looking for an education!!!

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3156 days

#10 posted 08-14-2013 01:38 AM

great job on the build. it may not be a roubo; but you’ve got big flat, heavy, work surface with a vise.
you’ll see this alone will be a big asset to better woodworking projects!

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 2041 days

#11 posted 08-14-2013 01:44 AM

A smart build. This is a bench that is simpler to build, and less traumatic to scar. A fine tool to have.

I’m wondering if you will be using this bench with any hand tools?

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6239 posts in 3367 days

#12 posted 08-14-2013 01:45 AM

Stellar job on the work bench build…..If this is your first bench you’ve built, then it looks good….

-- " It's a rat race out there, and the rats are winning....!!"

View recover82's profile


4 posts in 2023 days

#13 posted 08-14-2013 02:05 AM

This turned out really nice. Great job!

View qsawn12's profile


7 posts in 1925 days

#14 posted 08-14-2013 02:24 AM

Wow. Nice work

View louxwe's profile


16 posts in 2117 days

#15 posted 08-14-2013 03:39 AM

Yeah I have pretty much been a power tool guy but I am hoping to use this to learn how to use hand tools. Up next Chris Schwartz book on Hand Planes, got a pretty decent set of chisels, and hoping to have my Japanese inlaws get me some nice Japanese hand saws (got one now and I love it). Will use the bench to start building some small projects with more hand tools.

showing 1 through 15 of 16 comments

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