Workbench Construction Questions

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Forum topic by Ripthorn posted 06-22-2012 12:26 PM 1030 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Ripthorn's profile


1458 posts in 3006 days

06-22-2012 12:26 PM

I am working on my workbench, making it out of doug fir, but have a couple questions. I am getting ready to cut the stretchers to length, but I don’t know how much of an overhang on the left side of the top to leave for the face vise. I intend to use the economy face vise from Lee Valley (link), but haven’t quite yet decided on the regular or large one (suggestions?). I have never installed a vise like this before, so I don’t know how much space to leave to either side.

My second question is how to attach the top to the base. I am building a bench much like the one seen here but without the gigantic front face. I would like to be able to disassemble the bench for moving someday, so the stretchers are going to be bolted mortise and tenon, but I would like some way to attach the top that will be solid, but removable if necessary. What method do you guys suggest? Thanks.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

5 replies so far

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2294 days

#1 posted 06-22-2012 12:49 PM


I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say/complain that their vice had too much capacity, IMO, I’d go with the larger one.

If there is an outside chance that you will need to remove the top of your bench you could always attach it as you would any large table top and that will also allow for any seasonal lateral movement.

Work Safely and have Fun. – Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Boatman53's profile


1056 posts in 2218 days

#2 posted 06-22-2012 12:57 PM

I think you need to decide which vise you want first. And have it in hand ASAP. It is always a good idea to have all the hardware for any project on hand before starting. When I built my bench I was useing a LN screw for the left hand leg vise. Before I finished the legs I decided to install twin leg vises on both legs, so I ordered another screw. In the meantime I used the nut from the first screw to do the mortice in the right leg. What can go wrong? They changed the screw design in particular the nut! Of course it was smaller so the mortice I made was too bigt. They were very kind and it was a recent enough change that they still had some of the old style nuts around, they sent me one at no charge. I can not recommend Lie-Nielsen enough. They make great tools and have great customer service.

If the top is heavy enough just a couple of dowels will keep it registered on the legs.

-- Jim, Long Island, NY home of the chain leg vise

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2676 days

#3 posted 06-22-2012 01:02 PM

I would bolt the top to the stretchers and use an enlarged hold in the back stretcher…this forces all wood movement to the back. You can accomplish the same with lag bolts through the bottom stretcher into the top…if you don’t want bolt heads to show on the top, that is how I connected my bench and it is rock solid.

I own the small vise, it has plenty of capacity. But the large one does have a bit more room between screws and would require less fiddling. My advice here is if you are wanting to spend the extra money, spend it to upgrade the vise to a quick release, that will help speed up your work.

That looks like it will be quite a solid bench. Good luck.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View benchbuilder's profile


284 posts in 2472 days

#4 posted 06-22-2012 01:05 PM

I would use pegs or round tenons on top of the legs into the top. The weight of the top will hold it in place on the pegs. This should give you the ablity to remove it easily if you need to. The vise, yes, the largest you can afford, leave about 1-1/2” on either side of the attachment holes on the vise. Get the vise and it should be easy to see the amount of room you need. Take your time, think about what your about to do. I am sure you will do good what ever you do.

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2825 days

#5 posted 06-22-2012 01:35 PM

I would get your vise first, then go from there

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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