Advice on my new workbench

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Forum topic by john_az posted 02-09-2012 05:10 AM 3647 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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105 posts in 2609 days

02-09-2012 05:10 AM


I just built my first woodworking bench! The plan was based upon the “24-hour” workbench plan from Chris Schwartz. All has gone well overall. I used home center lumber to construct it. The legs were made by gluing two 2×4s together. Prior to gluing the 2×4s together I put a couple of dadoes in to make through mortises. The the short stretchers connect into the through mortises and make up the end frames. The long stretchers holding the two end-frames together were made from 2×8’s with mortise/tenons into the legs and bed bolts. The top is constructed of 2 layers of birch plywood and 2 layers of MDF. Once I got the top on, I found that it feels rock solid. I still have to put the skirt around the top and install a vise. I would like to start with a face vise. Can you experts out there recommend a good face vise? I would also like recommendations for a finish. Polyurathane, danish oil etc? The picture shows it before laminating the 4 top layers and attaching the top.

john – Phoenix, AZ

-- John, Phoenix-AZ

7 replies so far

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3190 days

#1 posted 02-09-2012 05:16 AM

Great build! It looks excellent so far. I would recommend some type of oil as the finish—tung oil or boiled linseed oil, etc.

I used the large front vise from Lee Valley on my bench:,41659,41661&ap=1

It’s relatively inexpensive and it works very well.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View john_az's profile


105 posts in 2609 days

#2 posted 02-09-2012 05:45 AM

Brandon, thanks for the info. This is the vise that was shown in the original plan but it was installed as an end vise. These are inexpensive compared to many others so I was wondering about the quality. Thanks again.


-- John, Phoenix-AZ

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3210 days

#3 posted 02-09-2012 06:00 AM

I can strongly recommend against the small front vise; from Lee Valley or anybody else. I hate to say that, because normally I am a big supporter of Lee Valley tools. I like the company, and most of their products, and their service is usually top notch. But, I have never seen a small front vise that did not have a racking problem. I can’t comment on the large versions because I have no experience with them.

My bench is very similar to yours. My top is four layers of 3/4” (23/32) plywood, topped with 1/2” MDF and a replacable 1/8” sheet of hardboard. This all stacks up to be almost exactly 3 1/2” thick. My top is banded with maple.

I have two quick release type face vises with 10” wide jaws and 12” opening. Mine were Groz vises purchased at Woodcraft before they discontinued them. One is on the front of the bench and one will be on the end after I get the little front vise off and throw it out in the trash.

This is how the quick release vise is mounted on my bench. Except I didn’t need the spacer blocks because my top was thick enough without them

Someone has a couple of vises for sale on LJ right now. Do a search. Here is the link

I really like your bench. Bet you will too.

View john_az's profile


105 posts in 2609 days

#4 posted 02-09-2012 06:29 AM

crank49, Thanks for the info! I was looking at new Wilton vises and saw that they are expensive however, this may be one of those times where it is best not to go cheap so that I don’t have to buy it over again. Your bench sounds very similar to mine. I was thinking of banding the top with douglas fir but I may re-think that. I’ll check out the used market. I just bought a nice delta joiner from craigs-list. I will check out my local craigs list for vises and see what I can come up with.

-- John, Phoenix-AZ

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4218 days

#5 posted 02-09-2012 06:39 AM

Nice bench…use it in good health.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View KenHMT's profile


9 posts in 2256 days

#6 posted 11-16-2012 07:41 PM

Great-looking bench!

Added to the database at


View john_az's profile


105 posts in 2609 days

#7 posted 11-17-2012 04:25 AM

Ken, Thanks, the finished product is located here:

-- John, Phoenix-AZ

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