Workbench help

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Forum topic by Betsy posted 10-28-2007 03:01 AM 1405 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3392 posts in 4137 days

10-28-2007 03:01 AM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench

Need some design help and some advise on vises (isn’t that cute!). Sorry fellas.

ok – I’m not a designer, but this is what I’m trying to do. I want to make a small workbench to use in my living room. I know I know, what about my shop bench. That’s the issue—it’s in the shop. I’d like to have a bench I can use while sitting.

I’m thinking of a bench about 30 inches long x 18 deep. I’m not sure of the leg system. Maybe a trestle table type configuration. It has to be low enough to sit in a typical dining room chair. And perferrably the whole system will be light weight enough that I can move it without to much trouble. I’d like to have a chisel rack on one end. I have a four-drawer plastic cabinet that’s on wheels that I plan to use for supplies like sand paper, pencils, measuring things, etc.

For the top I am thinking of using some ash that I have. That can be covered with either 1/4 or 1/2 mdf that I can change out if it gets manky over time.

The table, of course, needs to be sturdy enough to handle chiseling, etc.

As to the vises. I want a face vice at the very least. I know I’ll need a hobbyist vice. I’ve looked at the web and about the only thing I can find are the 7” bench vice from Rockler, Rockler’s pony vice and Woodcraft’s portable hobbyists vice. I’ve googled vices and could not really find anything else. (It is amazing the number of hits I got though.) Does anyone have one of these vices? If so, what do you think of them. I tried to find tools for miniature hobbyists but came up empty.

I’m not sure about bench dogs, I may have to settle on some type of hold down system.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

10 replies so far

View Karson's profile


35154 posts in 4641 days

#1 posted 10-28-2007 04:42 AM

Betsy here is one I made It was made from a bowling alley and is quite heavy, even though I made it to be portable. I take it to the woodworking meetings if I want to put on a presentation.I use a chair or a small work stool to work at the bench. I use the Veritas Bench dogs as a vise. They work great.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View WayneC's profile


13809 posts in 4338 days

#2 posted 10-28-2007 04:56 AM

Check out the one that Tom made. It is pretty nice.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4335 days

#3 posted 10-28-2007 05:01 AM


A variation of the bench I made might suit your needs. Although, I’ve seen Karson’s and it’s pretty cool.

My bench is from a design in FWW. It is pretty versatile and easy enough to build. The beauty part is it can be easily transformed to any dimension/height you feel is appropriate. I’m quite pleased with mine and would share the sketchup drawing if you would like to fiddle with the deminsions. There is additional information on the first entry of the blog.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4401 days

#4 posted 10-28-2007 12:36 PM

You mentioned a craft vise. I have a vice from Dremel I think. It’s small and I’ve used it for a lot of small projects.

And someone just posted a table ( looks like a ” C “) and the feet go under the chair/couch. This might give you some ideas as well. When your legs/back aren’t feeling right you might want to be sitting back in a nice comfy chair while you work. The table might be made to tilt to your position rather than you having to lean over…

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4231 days

#5 posted 10-28-2007 02:34 PM

It all depends on just what you’re doing. I’m kinda in the dark here and you haven’t posted any projects…Just what do you want to create? Carved signs would clamp best on a flat bench with bench dogs, but I have a buddy that carved his sign on his lap with no bench support needed. Other carvings that might need a vise??? How about a “parrot” vise? Check out Also Craftsman, Harbor Freight tools, Toolking, etc. There’s also a vise made just for carving busts or dolls, etc. Has a big screw in the bottom to hold your project.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Betsy's profile


3392 posts in 4137 days

#6 posted 10-29-2007 01:59 AM

Daado – I’m planning to use it for making small boxes and other mininature things. I also figure that I can work on practicing dovetails, box joints, etc.

Debbie——that’s a great idea! I’ve seen TV trays that slip under the couch. Will have to look at that.

Jeff – your bench looks like it has some good ideas for me. I really need one much smaller than yours. But I think I’m getting a different idea from your blog. Thanks!

Will keep you all posted.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Betsy's profile


3392 posts in 4137 days

#7 posted 10-30-2007 06:57 AM

Giving this more thought. I think I will use my abundance of red oak to make the top. Will probably use at least one piece of walnut so satisfy my feminine side (:-)

So the first step will be to gather up the oak from the recesses of my shop, figure out which is best to use and start with that. I am going to get the woodcraft hobby vises.They are small enough to do what I envision myself doing in my living room.

I’m considering a two side legs instread of a treslte system to provde mre stablity. We’ll see. Once I start buidling Im sure things will change.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Betsy's profile


3392 posts in 4137 days

#8 posted 11-19-2007 06:52 AM

ok – so I’m getting back to the workbench issue. I enjoy working on little things that I can do in the living room while watching my sports on TV. The bench, has not turned out like what I had intended, but it’ll do the job. (I needed Dusty’s blog before I started building about planning things out.)

The top is large enough to handle most of my crafty type things, study enough to handle my mini-lathe (although I seriously doubt I’d do lathe work in the living room – but it’s nice that I could If I so desired), quite ample for box assembly, study enough for any pounding I may desire to do. The vise is stronger than I thought it would be.

I’ve drilled holes for bench dogs should I need them. Most of my work though will not require dogs. I foresee doing mostly assembly and fine tuning things on this table.

As far as where my tools would rest – the ones that I am not using will be quite handy on the brick seat/wall at the edge of the living room. It’s just the right height.

Anyway so here are some pictures of the workbench in all it’s glory. (I’m still not sure why I can’t get my pictures to be seen full instead of some of it being cut off.)
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Comments, suggestions always welcome. I learn everytime someone replies.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View polarktb's profile


5 posts in 4088 days

#9 posted 11-19-2007 09:39 AM

A seperate bench for your living room? Love it! You’ll definitely have to add that to the “You might be a Lumberjock if…” thread. I asked Kat (my fiancee) if I could do the same thing… she was less enthusiastic.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4203 days

#10 posted 11-19-2007 02:25 PM

Well, Betsy, it looks sturdy enough. It sounds like you are happy with it and that is the real test.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

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