Workbench Challenge #2: Getting Started and the Plans

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 11-22-2013 08:11 PM 6309 reads 11 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Best bang for the buck Part 2 of Workbench Challenge series Part 3: Ripping the Pieces Without a Tablesaw »

I know that I said I would post the Sketchup at the end of the build but after some thought I have decided to post it now even though there may be some changes made during the build. I think it will make the blog easier to follow. If anyone wants to look for mistakes (proof read) feel free, I’d like this to be glitch free when it’s done.

I will format the rest of this blog as building instructions and will try to do it to suit beginning woodworkers so please bear with me if you are more experienced.

Here’s what I’m building (Click the photo for the Sketchup 3D Warehouse to download.)

I have been having some pack rat problems both in the shop and in my car that have kept me from getting started with this project but they are getting straightened out and I got about an hour and a half in yesterday.
I started with the dog hole strips because they are the trickiest part of the basic bench and it’s nice to get them out of the way.

If you look at the SU model, you will see that the two sheets of plywood can be cut at the source to four pieces each and fit in a car. That’s great but all the pieces aren’t the same so make sure you use the right piece to cut any given parts.

This is the 47 1/2” X 22” piece (upper right part of the lower sheet) and I have laid out the strips that will make the dog hole parts and the filler pieces that go with them. These are pieces K,L,M,N,and P. The 1/4” MDF assembly at the left is a simple jig to make circular saw cutting accurate.

Here’s the jig in action.

... and here is the piece cut off with the parts letter marked as in the SU. Also notice that the dog holes are marked.

In preparation for routing the dog hole halves, take a quick measurement from the cutting edge of your bit (3/4” core box) to the edge of the router base. This doesn’t have to be terribly accurate so a tape is fine.

Next clamp a straight edged scrap to the plywood, square to the edge and your router measurement from the nearest side of the groove layout lines.

Now you can set your bit to a depth that will give you half of a 3/4” diameter hole. Do this by grooving two pieces of scrap and putting them together over a 3/4” dowel. Adjust the bit until the hole is round and the dowel is a nice fit. When you know you are set up you can rout the groove. It would be nice to do this in several shallow passes but unless you have a plunge router with an accurate stop it will mean a lot of re-adjusting of the depth for all the holes. Just move slowly and even a cheap bit like this one will do a fine job. If you aren’t used to doing this try it on some scrap first . The important thing is to keep pressure on the guide stick so you don’t wander.

When you are done the first five grooves separate the long strips (K,L) from the short ones (M,N), again using the $1.50 table saw and cut the remaining two grooves in the long strips only.

Now you have one long strip with seven hole grooves and one short one with five holes and two spacers (P) that will be cut off. (The cut line for the “P” parts here was changed after these photos to give the last dog hole more beef. The SU reflects the change)

Now you have to cut the two halves of each piece apart. This takes a little alteration in the technique. As you don’t have enough to clamp the jig to, just screw it down on your mark. Use screws long enough to extend into the piece below to stabilize the whole thing for the cut. Of course when making plywood cuts over other plywood, always sight under the cut line to make sure you won’t be cutting the piece below. Here it is ll set up nice and stable and clear of the “bench” piece that it is screwed to. (The piece that does appear to be under the cut line is a couple of pieces down and out of the way)

Here’s a dry fit of the two strips. The “P” pieces are not yet cut off.

That’s as far as I got in the time I had but it’s a start. I’ll try to get some time in over the weekend. It shouldn’t take long. (famous last words)

Thanks for looking in,


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

16 comments so far

View JeremyPringle's profile


321 posts in 2498 days

#1 posted 11-22-2013 08:23 PM

This is really interesting.

View Patricelejeune's profile


375 posts in 1944 days

#2 posted 11-22-2013 08:25 PM

Cool, I want to see that bench.

-- Patrice lejeune

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3358 days

#3 posted 11-22-2013 08:37 PM

Off to a good start Paul. Great blog fun to watch.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3906 days

#4 posted 11-22-2013 09:07 PM

You are a clever boy.
Good work Paul.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3948 days

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

Hey Paul, You should send this into a few wood working magazines they may pay you for it or at least do it as a featured article. Great job

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20594 posts in 3129 days

#6 posted 11-22-2013 09:28 PM

Looks like you are building ‘er real sturdy. That will be the place everything else is made so it has to be good!!

Cheers, Jim

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

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2563 days

#7 posted 11-22-2013 09:45 PM

Paul this looks fantastic. I myself have a $1.50 tablesaw… Can’t wait to see it come together!

-- I never finish anyth

View Boatman53's profile


1056 posts in 2220 days

#8 posted 11-22-2013 11:32 PM

Hi Paul I agree with Sandhill. You should submit this to a couple of magazines. I’ve seen worse/ill-conceived benches published.

-- Jim, Long Island, NY home of the chain leg vise

View MrFid's profile


876 posts in 1928 days

#9 posted 11-23-2013 12:10 AM

Very cool Paul I’ll be following along.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3327 days

#10 posted 11-23-2013 03:06 AM

yea i learned a long time ago…when i expect it to take 3 hours, make it 6….its just the way it is,,,things are looking might fine, however i have to say im suprised that there is a ryobi router in the house…lol…i was expecting something of a bit more quality…..but…whatever works i guess….

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

View shipwright's profile


7992 posts in 2822 days

#11 posted 11-23-2013 03:10 AM

Quality doesn’t come from the tools Bob. You know that. ...... :-)

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

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3327 days

#12 posted 11-23-2013 03:17 AM

yes, you are so right, shame on me for dissing ryobi….heck if people judged my projects on how i looked, i would still be in kindergarten…lol…have a good weekend.

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

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 3854 days

#13 posted 11-23-2013 04:44 AM

Paul the sketch up model looks great…you have really increased your skill level! I like the technique here and using the core box bit winds up giving you a nice round dog hole.

What do you think about just gluing the two pieces of plywood together and drilling a 3/4” hole with one of those new speed bore bits? They chew through plywood like butter. Would that be easier? What am I missing?

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View shipwright's profile


7992 posts in 2822 days

#14 posted 11-23-2013 05:02 AM

Thanks Mat,
I’m trying to get it done with cheap basic tools. Without a drill press it would be tricky to get accurate holes square to the top. It could be done of course, six of one …...half dozen of the other. I will use something like that to drill the top and bottom using the existing hole as a guide.

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

View tinnman65's profile


1357 posts in 3438 days

#15 posted 11-23-2013 04:04 PM

Great start Paul, I like how all your blogs are very clear in the procedure.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

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