Work Bench help.

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Forum topic by laxbograt posted 01-22-2012 12:53 PM 1020 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View laxbograt's profile


76 posts in 2395 days

01-22-2012 12:53 PM

Ok, I have finally decided to bite the bullet and make a formal woodworking bench I can be proud of, the two benches I have now look ridiculously unprofessional and often don’t have the proper areas for clamping holding etc..

I have the general idea to make a split top Roubo style in mind. I want the top to be about 3 in thick so that I can use holdfast and dogs securely, a leg vise with sliding deadman so that I can work on longer items, and a thin split so that I can use it as a tool channel for holding backsaws, chisels, etc…

So here is the question aspect.

1) I am thinking of using laminated wood, ie 2×4’s glued together to make a wide thick top, for the whole bench. I have been having a hell of a time finding lumber in my area that is a) thick enough, and b) not so expensive that it makes me want to cry. So I was thinking of using big box home improvement store style lumber for the legs, stretchers, top, etc… and using hard maple to wrap the edges of the top, for the leg vise and for the sliding deadman.

I have seen people do the laminated tops just never the legs. Would this be strong enough?

2) I am on the fence between a tail vise vs a wagon vise. Anyone have any strong feelings one way or the other?

Any other advise suggestions would be great. I know I have a big project ahead of me and have done a good amount of research but any tips / tricks would be great.

Rookie Woodworker

4 replies so far

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2808 days

#1 posted 01-23-2012 07:52 PM

Take a look at this. Bob knows his stuff.
Make a list of your wants and needs
Pros and cons
then step back and look at it

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2939 days

#2 posted 01-23-2012 08:53 PM

My entire bench is made of plywood (and three quarts of Titebond III). Even the legs and stretchers. The legs are 4 layers of 3/4” sandply plywood, ripped into 3-9/16” wide strips and glued together with a 1×4 red oak face board. Everything is held together with mortice and tennon joinery, pinned with 3/8×6” lagbolts.

The top is 4 layers of plywood topped with 1/2” MDF and the replacable working surface is 1/8” hardboard held on with doubleface tape.

Not sure how strong it is. Most I ever had on it is 12 tons, but that didn’t make it sag.

I used two 10” quick release type vises. One on the front and one on the end. I prefer these because they have complete iron structure with large alignment rods and do not rack. I can crush a 2×4 on one side if I want to and the jaws stay parallel.

Caution. I don’t think I would be so satisfied with this bench if it was made with regular 3/4” plywood. The stuff I used is the 7 ply plywood with A-B sanded surfaces and exterior glue. It cost about $25 a sheet, but looked much better than the oak or birch hardwood ply at HD and was half the price. Even with all the ripping and laminating I only found a couple of small voids, less than a 1/2” long.

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 2919 days

#3 posted 01-23-2012 10:05 PM

A lot of people use store-bought dimensional lumber for their workbenches. Chris Schwarz, in his 2007 Workbenches book, recommends it and builds both an English style bench and a French style bench out of Southern yellow pine. I personally just completed mine and decided to go with something a little more traditional (European steamed beech) because I plan on keeping my bench around for-ev-er. Still, my whole bench cost under $400 which includes the wood, the glue, and hardware for two vises. I wouldn’t discount the possibility of using a hardwood if you can. Have you tried all the local saw mills/hardwoods dealers? I know one of the hardwood retailers near me sells maple for $1.25 a boardfoot or something ridiculously cheap like that.

Either way, if you haven’t read Schwarz’s book, I highly recommend it.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View laxbograt's profile


76 posts in 2395 days

#4 posted 01-24-2012 12:22 AM

$1.25 a boardfoot i wish, the closet lumber yard to me said it would be around $5-6 per boardfoot.

I haven’t pick up Chris’ book yet but it looks nice.

Thanks for all the responses keep it coming.


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