Workbench Challenge #1: Best bang for the buck

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 11-19-2013 08:38 PM 3725 reads 17 times favorited 36 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Workbench Challenge series Part 2: Getting Started and the Plans »

I have just arrived back in Az for the winter and have decided I need a good workbench. The one I have at home in Canada is great but it’s too big for my little carport shop here so I have redesigned it a little and am going to take it on as a challenge to build the”best bang for the buck”workbench.

It is really a challenge for myself but if anyone wants to take it up and give me a run for it you are absolutely welcome. With luck the outcome will be a cheap, easy to build, excellent bench that even a beginner with a low budget can tackle.

The rules I’m using for myself are:

1) Cost........ I want to be honest about the cost so all material will be accounted for as well as the cost of the tools that the builder would have to acquire to build it. Additionally, I will stay away from “good deals” I was lucky enough to come upon and bits of hardware that I “just happened to have”, the thinking being that at my finished cost, anyone could do it, lucky or not.

2) Function...This is going to be my bench and I expect it to be full function (although small) and be capable of all the clamping and supporting roles that I ask of my bench at home.

3) Simple Construction.. I want this to be a bench that a relative beginner with a few tools can feel confident to build.

4) Flexible Design..... My bench must fit in a small shop but that is not the case for everyone. The design has to be easy to scale up or down.

5) Accessible Materials.. All materials will be common readily accessible BORG quality stuff.

When I’m done I will post a full Sketchup and anyone who likes the idea can have full free access to both it and my help.

So here’s my starting point.
It is two sheets of so-so 3/4” plywood off the top of the pile at HD, some glue and about all the tools I plan to use. I will likely have to add a few tools and parts later but I think the basic bench can be built from these.
The vices will probably involve a little solid wood but I may even try to get them from PW.

I call the one I have at home The V8 Workbench after it’s vertical 8 degree wedge vices. This smaller clone I have dubbed The short Block V8.

Thanks for looking in .........and wish me luck….... :-)


-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees.

36 comments so far

View Sodabowski's profile


2113 posts in 1650 days

#1 posted 11-19-2013 08:43 PM

Sounds promising

-- Holy scrap Barkman!

View SPalm's profile


5004 posts in 2699 days

#2 posted 11-19-2013 08:47 PM

This will be fun to watch. I remember being in on the beginning of the V8. A short block is a good challenge. I will be paying attention.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View shipwright's profile


5513 posts in 1615 days

#3 posted 11-19-2013 08:48 PM

Welcome back Thomas!

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees.

View gbear's profile


434 posts in 2916 days

#4 posted 11-19-2013 08:55 PM

This sounds like fun!

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4166 posts in 1673 days

#5 posted 11-19-2013 08:56 PM

Sounds like a fun one Paul
Have fun :)


-- 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 Steven Davis's profile

Steven Davis

114 posts in 1731 days

#6 posted 11-19-2013 08:56 PM

I’ll follow this closely! Your last bench was great.

-- Steven Davis - see me at and

View Schwieb's profile


1617 posts in 2278 days

#7 posted 11-19-2013 09:02 PM

I wish I had the time to jump in on this but I will enjoy it vicariously. Thanks for leading the way. This could be a starting point for many who need a smaller but very functional bench. I’ve got a couple of bench vice screws I’ve collected somewhere along the way that I always wanted to make a bench for. This may be the lead I need. I hate working from plan books, I’ve just never done it, so an original approach is something I am interested in.

Thanks Paul,


-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View stefang's profile


13905 posts in 2151 days

#8 posted 11-19-2013 09:07 PM

I’m sure this will be a excellent solid bench Paul and it will be a great inspiration for others needing a good but economical easy to build bench. I doubt that anyone with your woodworking skills needs any luck to make this bench, but good luck anyway just for good form, and I will be watching this build with great interest.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

12500 posts in 1922 days

#9 posted 11-19-2013 09:08 PM

Hi Paul. i might be able to see it in person this winter. I wish I could bring you a worksurface down from Steelcase. They are laminate covered, real flat and glue cleans off of them real well. They come about 1 1/4” thick . I have two benches with them and love using them.

See you in Feb…..................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Underdog's profile


568 posts in 853 days

#10 posted 11-19-2013 10:13 PM


What’s your estimated cost right now?

View waho6o9's profile


5592 posts in 1394 days

#11 posted 11-19-2013 10:51 PM

Good luck Paul, this will be fun & thanks for posting.

View grizzman's profile


7301 posts in 2120 days

#12 posted 11-19-2013 11:12 PM

i dont see any of your fancy veneer here paul…so i take it we wont have to go to england for any of the wood we might need….lol…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


15419 posts in 2493 days

#13 posted 11-19-2013 11:28 PM

Good luck building up that short block ;-))

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Druid's profile


747 posts in 1612 days

#14 posted 11-20-2013 12:01 AM

Sounds like an interesting project, and I’m eager to see the outcome with all of its features.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View justoneofme's profile


616 posts in 1297 days

#15 posted 11-20-2013 12:15 AM

Great to know you and Elinor arrived safely and have settled into the Southern Lifestyle. I for one, will be watching with interest … being the novice carpenter!

Now … get to work! cause you’ve got precious veneer to play with!!

-- Elaine in Duncan

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