Need some workbench build advice

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Forum topic by Vrtigo1 posted 05-17-2012 01:51 AM 2849 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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434 posts in 3190 days

05-17-2012 01:51 AM

I have been using my outfeed table as a workbench / assembly table for the past two years while I tried to decide what kind of bench I want to build, how much to spend on it, what features I want, etc.

I was at Barnes and Noble this evening looking through Shopnotes and I was reading an article about benches and saw a photo of one that I really liked (sorry for the poor quality, took it with my cell phone camera):

This got me thinking…I am on vacation all next week and have nothing planned, so maybe that would be a good time to start working on my bench.

The bench above looks pretty simple to buiild, it looks like I could build the cabinets and top separately and then attach the top to the cabinets. I am severely creatively challenged and need plans to build just about anything, so it would be great if I could find some somewhere for a bench similar to the one above. Any ideas on where I could find some?

Also, I haven’t done a ton of research on benches, but I’d like to keep initial costs relatively low and spread the cost out over a few months. I know a lot of traditional benches have hard maple tops, but I’ve seen a lot of folks that make them out of cheaper wood like doug fir, etc. Any guesses as to what the bench top in the photo is made from? Any good info you can point me to about building a bench top cost effectively? I would be fine with laminating MDF since I think that would be flat enough, but I eventually want to add an end vice and I suspect bench dogs would tear up MDF. I don’t really care a whole lot about what it looks like as long as it’s flat, will hold up well and won’t break the bank.

I don’t have any handplanes, so if I need one or more to flatten the top I build, I will have to factor that into the cost, so any materials I can use that are inherently pretty flat would be a plus if using them would save me from having to buy expensive tools right now.

I know I definitely want to make the benchtop the same height as and locate it directly behind my TS so I can use it as a support when ripping larger pieces of plywood, etc. Any other tips or things to keep in mind that someone wouldn’t necessarily think of when building a bench but would look back on 6 months down the road and wish they’d done differently?

11 replies so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2889 days

#1 posted 05-17-2012 02:13 AM

My suggestion is to make your bench about 1/2” below the height of you tablesaw so your sleds and miter gauge will clear without having to route a miter slot in your bench top.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Don W's profile

Don W

19007 posts in 2766 days

#2 posted 05-17-2012 11:10 AM

lots and lots of work bench info in this thread

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View dhazelton's profile


2793 posts in 2495 days

#3 posted 05-17-2012 12:39 PM

How about picking up some plans to build kitchen base cabinets? You can build them individually or figure out how to meld a run together into one unit pretty easily. Just about any book store or box store has some book on that with plans and cut lists.

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 3190 days

#4 posted 05-17-2012 01:42 PM

Good advice, but let me clarify, I don’t intend to use the bench to replace my outfeed table, I am planning to keep the outfeed and add the bench in front of the TS. Here is a quick drawing which is totally not to scale but shows what I have in mind:

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3055 days

#5 posted 05-17-2012 01:49 PM

Transfer balls are a handy way of having the best of both

worlds. They are cheap and although they are meant to

be screwed down but gravity works.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View AJLastra's profile


87 posts in 2427 days

#6 posted 05-17-2012 01:51 PM

I saved a bit of money when I built one of my benches by using a solid core red oak door. Its a heavy sucker and takes a beating and I use it as my outfeed table. I routed grooves in it that accept the runners for the miter sled and other accessories that slide across the saw table. You might be able to pick up something like that at a local home center in their scratch and dent section. You’re only going to scratch and dent it some more any way.

View MrRon's profile


5192 posts in 3442 days

#7 posted 05-17-2012 06:01 PM

I would eliminate the outfeed table and move the saw to where the table was. This would give you more room. A roller stand can be added to support outfeed material.

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 3190 days

#8 posted 05-18-2012 01:31 PM

AJ, that sounds like a decent idea (using a solid core door). Do you know if they are relatively flat? I have some at home that I will check after work. Also, do you know what is typically inside them? I think the ones I have have particle board inside, and I wonder how that would hold up if I drilled dog holes and used bench dogs to clamp material to the bench.

Ron, thanks for the advice but I think I will have enough room as everything is (although this will max me out). I like having a dedicated outfeed so I don’t have to worry about setting up roller stands or worrying about them tipping over.

View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 3036 days

#9 posted 05-24-2012 08:07 AM

V – The basic structure of my bench is a solid core door with particle board as center. It lasted me 10 + years as a good bench and it would still be OK except I got to thinking about things like end vise and face vise etc. I did satisfy all my wildest dreams on a budget (retired now)., as mentioned above, has my bench details in post #315 of that thread. Another thread in this same forum is also happening called workbench top assembly.

But a basic answer is yes – you can use a typical door as your workbench top because it as flat as a pancake. It not as pretty as a $4000 European bench and not as solid, but my cheap bench does it all. One consideration you have to think about is its’ weight. My bench sits on a simple 2X4 frame, but I built it into the floor so it never moves. You can screw it down or add lots of weight in the bottom if you plan on using your door as a workbench. But go for it – doors make perfect workbenches!

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View Tim Pletcher's profile

Tim Pletcher

90 posts in 3273 days

#10 posted 05-24-2012 12:42 PM

maybe you could steal some ideas from these kids? I always like getting a good feel for whats out there before I start a project :)


View ktable's profile


6 posts in 2393 days

#11 posted 05-29-2012 05:07 PM

Wow that is a really nice looking work bench. It also looks convenient. check this one out!

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