Work Bench - AskWoodMan-style

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Project by MJCD posted 11-09-2013 08:02 PM 3178 views 11 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Alan Little – aka AskWoodMan – designed and built the original (to my knowledge) version of this – his is much more robust and functional than mine; and I want to give him the credit for designing a very functional bench that is quite different from the defacto Euro-style.

This bench is approximately 100 lbs., 60” by 20”, Hard Maple, and includes two end pipe-vise clamps. This design includes several features: the leg tops can be used for supporting a horizontal board, when used in conjunction with the Festool Domino #10 dog holes – a second feature. The end-vise pads are 1” proud on three sides, to use as a backstop on both horizontal and vertical work.
I’ve added several jigs which provide support both above and behind work laid horizontal on the bench; as well as clamps that are inserted between the two aprons.

I’ve used the bench for the previous 6-months, and I’ll replace the pipe clamps with Veritas End Vises when my schedule allows.

Downsides: I need to determine a way to clamp down, not across: my current approach is to affix an F-clamp to the bottom of the apron, and close-down on the workpiece (laying either horizontal or vertical on the bench); also, the pipe vises are not sufficiently functional – Alan uses a Roubo-style, and I should have followed his lead on this.

If anyone is interested in this – either simply curious or wanting to consider building one – please let me know.
(mjcdorsam at yahoo dot com).

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

14 comments so far

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3030 posts in 2167 days

#1 posted 11-09-2013 08:21 PM

Your bench turned out really nice MJCD!

-- Tony C St Augustine FL, My high school shop teacher said "You can do it"... Now I can't stop!

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Kaleb the Swede

1369 posts in 784 days

#2 posted 11-10-2013 01:40 AM

Great job! I love watching Alan little. He thinks differently and his designs really make sense. If I built my bench over again I would do one of his.

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

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5583 posts in 1391 days

#3 posted 11-10-2013 01:48 AM

Interesting concepts, I like it.

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Rick M.

4824 posts in 1194 days

#4 posted 11-10-2013 02:25 AM

Well it eliminates the problem of detritus collecting atop the bench, or using the bench for small parts, or clamping to the top. It looks cool and is well made but functionally wouldn’t work for me. For the most part I like that guy’s ideas but every project is like 42 videos long and I don’t have the time or attention span to follow them.


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467 posts in 1186 days

#5 posted 11-10-2013 01:20 PM

Rick M.:

These are good points.

First, I’m happy to not collect tools on the top; as I think we all would be. For years, my assembly table became the horizontal surface of choice for drills, tape measures, clamps and chisels – somewhere along the way, after getting really angry with myself, I got religion about putting things in a dedicated space.

I’ve countered both the small parts and top-clamping issue with a small two-part T-Nut sliding jig which sits both inside and straddles the aprons; this allows small parts to be both held vertically and compressed (clamped) horizontally – Alan made something similar for his. The clamp-down issue is one of finding a more elegant solution to the F-clamp arrangement that I mention.
The bench is not ideal, by any stretch; but then it cost about 1/4 of an entry-level euro-style; and I don’t have the skills to flatten a surface that large; nor build the Roubo vises.
Again, excellent comments.

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

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5708 posts in 2400 days

#6 posted 11-10-2013 04:54 PM

Looks awesome to me could be store bought very professional . Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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669 posts in 528 days

#7 posted 11-10-2013 07:34 PM

From the images i do not clearly understand how you use the bench?
- Tryed to watch Ask Woodmans video on the bench but he talks so much and says so little that i gave up…

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

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467 posts in 1186 days

#8 posted 11-10-2013 10:06 PM

Alan has his own presentation style, no doubt. I have to admit that I did not go through the 34 episodes which he uses to build and describe the bench. I saw how he used it, and knew that it was more functional than a traditional euro-style bench – at least for the work I do.

I can appreciate that the bench takes a different approach to clamping something – the key is simple jigs which are placed onto the frame to hold the work. These make the bench functional – very functional.

Aside from the two end vises, the sides have rows of dog holes – to support wood placed on-edge (for planing) – the vise pads extend out from the bed sides, to allow wood-ends to be placed against, while the bottom edge rests either on the top of the legs or just on two or more dominos placed in the side mortises – a simple clamp holds the work to the side.

One simple jig creates a stop along the bench length – used in conjunction with the end-vise to clamp horizontal work. A second jig (actually 4 pieces), laps over the front and back aprons, with hard-stops on the rear, to rest horizontal work on and against – this allows you to work front to back: such as cutting a 90 degree miter with a circular saw.

The end vises work to clamp between the vises and the bench side edge.

Euro-style benches are both expensive and too large for my shop; especially when I have a large assembly bench in the shop, as well.

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

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669 posts in 528 days

#9 posted 11-11-2013 10:50 AM

Realy interesting. Would love to see an image of the bench in use wit one of your jigs!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

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467 posts in 1186 days

#10 posted 11-11-2013 12:35 PM

I’ll post later today. They’re not fancy… but they do work.

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

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467 posts in 1186 days

#11 posted 11-11-2013 07:02 PM

I’ve uploaded pictures of three simple jigs:
1) common pine holders, which straddle the two aprons, provide an abuse layer for working wood, as well as a backstop. This jig provides for working front-to-back – planning, crosscutting, or as a reference for general hold-down.
(2) The Legs and Dog Holes (Festool #10, with an enlarged width) work in-conjunction with the end-vise pad to hold wood on-edge for edge work. The multiple layer of dog holes provides for working varying width stock. The photo doesn’t show the two #10 tenons which provide support to the work’s lower edge. The final photo shows that two of the dog holes have inserted tenons.
(3) A two-part T-nut jig (fixture) which both inserts and straddles the apron, and allows the end-vise to hold long horizontal pieces.

There are other simple jigs which further add to the bench’s functionality. Again, this is effective for the work I do, and is not necessarily a replacement for a Euro-style, if that what your work demands.

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

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669 posts in 528 days

#12 posted 11-11-2013 09:22 PM

Thanks- its much clearer now. I love it when people rethink things that just look like what they do because they allways looked that way!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

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287 posts in 545 days

#13 posted 11-14-2013 06:18 PM

Interesting. Is it sturdy enough for hand planing?

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467 posts in 1186 days

#14 posted 11-14-2013 08:46 PM


Side-to-side – yes. it’s stable for planing; Front-to-Back, if I take a heavy shaving, I can lift the bench.

Alan’s design included a longer Leg-rabbet into the aprons, to accommodate move overlap of the legs – I’ve included a 4”x4” rabbet, Alan has a 5”-or-6”x3”: this does not appear to affect sturdiness, but I’ll mention it. More importantly, his bench is from Lyptus, which is twice as heavy as the Hard Maple; so his bench is much more planted than mine. My bench weighs about 100lbs, his goes about 220-230 lbs.

I’ve thought of attaching weights to the bench; but it’s not a high priority.

I hope this answers your question.

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

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