Traditional Workbench tips/questions.

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Forum topic by Alonso posted 02-04-2010 01:41 AM 3410 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Alonso's profile


949 posts in 3235 days

02-04-2010 01:41 AM

Topic tags/keywords: traditional workbench help

Hello Lj’s

I have on mind start building my first “real” workbench. After attending the Lie Nielsen Hand Tool event in Cerritos College, we (my dad and I) decided to build a real, productive workbench, I’m really looking for the Traditional Workbench.

We currently have one workbench, where we been working on all the plane restorations, so you can imagine it shows lots of wear, and I want this new one for fine woodworking only.

I would like to ask anyone who can help me with any tip, to make this happen,
I’m not going cheap on this but will like to stay on a $600-800 budget if possible

Where’s the best place to get a plan for it?
About how much wood will I need? best place to get it close to (Norwalk CA 90650) (I don’t mind ordering online for outstate sources)
What’s the best wood for this kind of bench?
I will use most of the time hand tools (since I don;t have a planner or jointer) I will be using my bench planes to bring lumber to dimension, should this give me any issues?
How about the finish? what’s the best way to make it last longer,
Hardware sources?
Any technique I should be aware of?

again, any idea that you may have to help me accomplish this, I will appreciate it a lot.



-- The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me.

7 replies so far

View chrisl's profile


17 posts in 3717 days

#1 posted 02-04-2010 03:19 AM

Have you read Chris Schwarz’s Workbenches book yet? The Holtpaffel design is what I’m going to start soon. Its a very nice bench and an excellent book. He’s got two other designs in there as well, all are of traditional design.


-- Chris L from Beatrice, NE

View ChesapeakeBob's profile


366 posts in 3480 days

#2 posted 02-04-2010 05:33 PM

Alonzo, check the projects posted here on LJ the past couple of weeks. There is at least one and maybe two benches made from 2×4 framing materials, etc. The results look great and the cost I think has been under $200, maybe even less.

Good luck and I’ll be looking for photos of your completed bench!

-- Chesapeake Bob, Southern Maryland

View TheDane's profile


5423 posts in 3660 days

#3 posted 02-04-2010 05:54 PM

The Chris Schwarz book Chris mentioned was a good investment for me and I would recommend it before you start building.

My bench ( and was built with kiln-dried Douglas Fir, which I got from a local big-box.

All I did was buy a bunch of 2×12’s, rip them them to the size I wanted, then joint and plane for my laminations. I wound up with a solid, stable bench that geta a great deal of use.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View flyingoak's profile


68 posts in 3105 days

#4 posted 02-04-2010 05:57 PM

If you use conventional framinig lumber, use southern yellow pine or a harder wood. stay away from spruce because it is softer and more easily damaged.

-- where is the duct tape.....

View Alonso's profile


949 posts in 3235 days

#5 posted 02-04-2010 06:01 PM


That is a nice looking bench, great job.

I will give it a look at Chris Schwarz book like you guys said, it should be the starting point after all.

-- The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me.

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3645 days

#6 posted 02-04-2010 06:18 PM

this fits your price range precisely and will reduce the overall milling process for you:

it was mentioned on Chris Schwarz’s blog and was introduced at last years woodworking in america events. good materials, and a nice planned bundle.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View botanist's profile


167 posts in 3535 days

#7 posted 02-04-2010 06:25 PM

The bench that I’m working on is a bit of a hybrid because I couldn’t afford hard maple for the entire bench. I lucked out on the top because there was a guy in the vicinity who was trying to sell 11 hard maple workbench tops from a local high school, some of which were 7 by 8 feet and others that were 2 by 10 feet. The tops weren’t in the greatest shape, but I picked out the best looking one and decided to use the bottom side for the top of my bench. The bottom was in perfectly fine condition and just needed a little sanding. I got a 2×10 foot long section that was 2 1/4 in thick for $100. Keep an eye on Craigslist and the classifieds because you can get some good deals on materials. The rest of the bench is made out of fir or southern yellow pine, depending on what I could get from the local big box store. My design is based on some the designs in Chris Schwarz’s book, which was a very useful book to have. There’s also a great book by Scott Landis and another by Lon Schleining that should give you some good ideas (all three books are available through Amazon).

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