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Forum topic by Bryan posted 08-10-2010 07:04 PM 1393 views 1 time favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Bryan's profile


51 posts in 2857 days

08-10-2010 07:04 PM

I want to build this workbench. Here is a link to it. I like to work with handtools to do the whole bench. Here is my question: What tools do I to build this bench? Now i know a huge aresnal of tools would be the way to go but I am on a budget and everybody says the way to buy tools is to only buy the one you need as the need arises. That is what I want to do. I have the layout tools already like squares, marking gauges, So please be very specific, like do I need a hand plane and if so what kind, in terms of chiesles how many and what size, saws I have no clue so all help would be great. I have other post about tools but since everyone says buy tools as you need them I am trying a different approach.

15 replies so far

View TheDane's profile


5423 posts in 3662 days

#1 posted 08-10-2010 07:08 PM

What tools do you have now?

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

View Bryan's profile


51 posts in 2857 days

#2 posted 08-10-2010 07:21 PM

Currently I have a tri-square, an adjustable rule, a marking gauge, I have had access to a freind of mines shop but he just moved! He had everything you could think of! I have only built one project and it was a table but my friend had a vast arsenal of power tools that i do not have. So I guess what i am looking for is a bare minium list of handtools needed for this project and really have nothing other than layout tools

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3115 days

#3 posted 08-10-2010 07:46 PM

you can pretty much see what you need in the text and in the pictures
but a handbrace and eggbeater instead of drill/drillpressand mortiser
and you can you a chesiel instead of a mortissecheisel
sizes the tennon after one of your cheisels
and a good choice is a tennon there is a 1/3 th of the wood
so if your wood is 1½ inch the drillbit and cheisel shuold bee a ½inch
and then you need a jackplane/a smoothing plane and a low angle blockplane for the endgrain
the last one you can use a very fine set smoothplane instead
and then of course clamps alot of them as you can see :-)

this was just a very quick 2cent opinion and I proppely forgot a few things
best of luck to you in the building of your new bench


View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3074 days

#4 posted 08-10-2010 07:54 PM

You will need a crosscut hand saw to cut the boards to length. You will also need a stiff backed saw for cutting the tenons. You can do the mortises with a method to drill holes and a chisel and hammer. You will need at least 4 clamps, perferably 6.

I think you will find it challenging to cut the tenons and mortises with hand tools, especially if you have little experience. I would encourage you to look for a design that does not call for mortise and tenon joinery. There are designs that use bolts to secure the legs in place.

Planes, as Dennis suggested, are necessary to make the piece look good. If your only objective is functionality, you can get by without them and have a rougher appearance.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3761 days

#5 posted 08-10-2010 07:54 PM

Check out Chris Schwarz’s Roubo workbench on the Popular Woodworking site;

Editor Schwarz built this bench with hand tools, with the exception of one rip cut on a table saw. I understand that the managing editor, Megan Fitzpatrick, is now building one on a slightly smaller scale for the “Woodworker’s in America” confweeence.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2951 days

#6 posted 08-11-2010 07:34 AM

I agree that finding a bench plan without tenon joinery is a good way to go if you have limited tools. I have suggested to others in the past to check out a bench plan posted on They have a beginner’s level bench without tenons. It uses construction grade lumber for the base and an MDF top. It is held together using threaded rods. I built the same bench (with a different top) for my shop and it is VERY strong. There is a video build series showing complete construction to guide you through each step. It took very little time to build and I did it with a small assortment of tools.

After almost two years of use, my bench is still rock solid. To help with weight, I built a small cabinet underneath for some tool storage and have yet to have a problem with tipping, moving, etc during planing and chopping operations.

Good Luck!

-- Mike

View Bryan's profile


51 posts in 2857 days

#7 posted 08-11-2010 03:37 PM

Thanks guys but I really want to build this bench, I have an unlimited supply of yellow pine, I do not like mdf, I have built with metal all my life and now I want to learn to work wood, I see no better place to start than this bench. I built a table using a limited supply of power tools, So once again my question is this, What are the bare essiential tools needed to build this bench I really want to build this bench, I have been told it is tough to do it by hand but I have plenty of time and patients and that is why I want to work wood by hand, no noise, which is important due to the area I live in and most of my work is done at night while my kids are in bed on the back pourch

View TheDane's profile


5423 posts in 3662 days

#8 posted 08-11-2010 03:57 PM

Bryan—I don’t think anybody is trying to dissuade you from building what you want … they’re just offering some advice based on experience.

As you look around, you will find many artisans who build with nothing but hand tools, and some (especially those with very modest means) turn out some fantastic work with very primitive tools.

Dennis is right … you need a brace and bit. You also need a decent saw (Rich suggested a good crosscut saw). You also need some hand planes (my first hand plane was a #5 jack plane … by second was a #7 jointer, followed by a #4 smoother, then a block plane). You can get by with a set of bench chisels … you can spend a lot of money on chisels, but a decent starter set will run you about $75.

You also need a way to keep your tools sharp (decent set of stones or sandpaper sharpening system). You would be surprised how good a cheap tool that is kept sharp can do the job for you!

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

View helluvawreck's profile


31096 posts in 2866 days

#9 posted 08-11-2010 04:20 PM

Right of the bat I can think of one thing that you can do if you’re short of clamps. I assume that you have a drill. For your top boards you can drill a series of holes through the boards in the same locations along the lengths of the board. Then get you some threaded rod – maybe 1/2 or 3/4 or even 1 inch – along with washers, lock washers, and nuts. These can go through the board crosswise to glue the boards together. If you cut the threaded rod long enough for your aprons you can even use them for that too. When your boards are dry flatten your top and then you can remove the nuts and washers; drill holes in your aprons with large enough counter sink holes in your aprons and then put the aprons on with the nuts. Your nuts and washers will be countersunk in the aprons. If you don’t want the nuts to show you can countersink the nuts and washers in the top and the aprons will cover them up or you can get some wood dowel and cover up the nuts with that. If you don’t won’t the threaded rod to remain in the top at all you can just remove it all together. However, even though the glue is very strong even stronger than the wood, I have seen most people who have done this just leave the rods in place as added reinforcement. of course if you do this you don’t want to drill a bench dog hole into the rod so know where they are and be aware of them.

Also, although you probably know this being a metalworker, you can get very good acme threaded rod from Mcmaster Carr and other sources. They also have several types of nuts. You can get this threaded rod in 2ft, 4 ft, and 6 ft lengths. You can use this for vice screws and various presses. Acme threads are great for wood vises. If you have the type of vice that uses ways and screws then cold roll shafting will work good for this. Incidentally, Mcmaster Carr also has a wonderful selection of materials that can be useful for woodworking jigs and fixtures. Knobs, handles, pony clamps, camlocks, special screws, all sorts of nylon and plastics, including the type that is commonly used for jig slides on table saw slots, and on and on. They might or might send you a catalog. It is nearly 4000 pages long. But if they won’t send you a catalog you can go to their website and order nearly everything online. Another very nice catalog to have is the MSC machinists supply catalog. You can order online if they won’t send you a catalog. if you end up building any complicated jigs these catalogs are wonderful. good luck with your bench. I need to make me a bench too. So keep posting how you come out I might want to see what you have or follow along.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Bryan's profile


51 posts in 2857 days

#10 posted 08-11-2010 04:33 PM

Thanks guys, What I would like to do is dovetail the apron and using the rods would work and could be left without being seen, I like the idea. I am sorry if I sounded rude, I did not mean to, I just like a challange.

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3160 days

#11 posted 08-11-2010 06:11 PM

I agree with Dane regarding cheap chisels. You just may have to sharpen them more often.

I find it funny when folks want you to build what they want, not what you want or think you need. I fall into that category myself if I’m not careful. Yes, their approach may be better in the end, but you can get there too.

Schwarz has lots of experience & some good advice. But I find it funny, no, IRONIC, that a heavilly hand-tool type of guy such as Schwarz uses power tools in a feature article on building his Roubo bench (a primarilly hand-tool oriented bench). :D

IMO, you could build that $175 bench WITH mortise & tennons or forego them alltogether. Without them, it would last longer than you think. Or Google for: Mortise Tennon “Sandwich Method”. It might make the mortises in the legs just a little easier.

As for using all hand-tools… You might want to invest in at least a circular saw. I think you’d be happy about that decision. As for MDF… If your near and far plans are for hand-tool work, then forego the MDF. MDF and hand-tools just don’t go together. Like putting Clorox on Ice Cream. They’re both great, but not together. If the road gets steep, then you could back down on some of the more complicated issues.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Bryan's profile


51 posts in 2857 days

#12 posted 08-11-2010 06:18 PM

Let me just reask the question once again. What hand tools do I need to build this bench?

Dane thank you for listing the tools.

I am not asking for nothing but a tool list, Once again I am not being rude, I just want a list of tools, I value all the opinions but so far you guys have answed questions I did not ask. Sorry for sounding rude.

View Raftermonkey's profile


560 posts in 2912 days

#13 posted 08-11-2010 06:56 PM

Bare essentials that will get a bench built. Tape measure, skill saw, drill, level, framing square. It may not be as fancy or nice but it will be a bench that you can work with. Everyone who has posted are only trying to help you. There are some good pointers/tips being thrown out there that may save you from having to buy an extra tool or two. Just my two pennies on the matter.

-- -Zeke- "I hate to rush off, but I gotta go see a man about a log"

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2983 days

#14 posted 08-11-2010 07:03 PM

Here’s My List
1 combination square
1 framing square
1 tape measure
1 marking knife
1 pencil
1 hammer
1 brace
3 bits for brace 3/8”,1/2” and 3/4”
3 chisels 1/4”,1/2” and 3/4”
1 crosscut saw
1 back saw
3 planes a jointer, jack and block
6 3/4” pipe clamps 4’ long
1 mortising gauge

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Bryan's profile


51 posts in 2857 days

#15 posted 08-11-2010 09:42 PM

thanks guys I will post a pic when the bench is complete

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