Help with portable work bench.

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Forum topic by groy87 posted 08-03-2013 08:51 PM 3469 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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136 posts in 3015 days

08-03-2013 08:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: resource tip workbench advice

I’m looking to build a small portable workbench to use in my apartment. I really like the design of the milkman workbench from the June 2013 popular woodworking magazine.

Would anyone be able to provide a copy of the plans from the magazine? I haven’t been able to find it in the stores and wanted to see if anyone could share a copy before ordering it.

Also to save money I w thinking of using pine instead of maple to make the bench. Do you think pine will work or would it be better to use a hardwood like poplar?

If anyone can recommend an alternative workbench design I’m open to anything.

3 replies so far

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 2068 days

#1 posted 08-22-2013 01:42 AM

I generally find building your own/modified design is always more rewarding than using someone else’s plans, IMHO.

A portable condo-size workbench is an idea I’ve thought about a few time before (I like the creative challenge), but it gets knocked down on my to-think list a lot. However, one feature I’ve thought about would be the use of quick-grip clamps with the portable workbench because it might bring some simplicity to the overall design, and that you might be using quick grip clamps already anyway for assembly/glue-up purposes. Further, for the bench to have weight, my idea would be to design a hand tool crate (to contain your hand tools) which you would place below on a removal shelf on a (folding) base for your portable workbench.

Pine – I think it’s generally too soft. Poplar – seems more like a medium hard wood to me, on the soft side, IMO. On a budget, I’d try to acquire (for free!) old house 2×4s (usually fir turned dark orangy-brown) which can be quite dense, or oak and maple from pallets! If you are OK with softer woods, then there’s always used regular spruce 2×4/2×6’s and mill them square as needed (after drying out of course).

My 2 cents. Looking forward to your final design and pictures!

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3146 days

#2 posted 08-22-2013 02:12 AM

Technically, Poplar is a hardwood.
And, I think it would stay nice and straight.
I even think it can be attractive; probably because I’m red/green color blind.
So, where other people see ugly green heartwood, I see another shade of brown.

Back in the day, when my Dad was a trim carpenter and floorman in the 50s and 60s I remember him building these little rectangular saw benches. He would often build one to use on a job, then give it to the customer. They were usually made from a 1×12 and about 3 ft long and about 20 to 24 inches tall. A hand hole was cut in the center of the top and they were fairly light and handy. I see them at auctions and antique sales around here still today.

Anyway, one of those saw benches with the milkman bench style, removable top would be a great accessory. I may design one of those in the near future and make a project out of it.

View rlewisjr's profile


3 posts in 1529 days

#3 posted 09-10-2014 11:53 PM

I’ve admired the Milkman workbench too. It might solve the problem of a work surface at a vacation home so I’ve decided to try to make something similar to the Aussie milkman workbench that Schwartz detailed (you can buy and download that issue online btw).

After reading the gunpowder woodworks link I am thinking I want it a bit longer. I will go with the alternate (veneer press or threaded rods or break down some C-Clamps) vice screws as I have no lathe and I don’t have the chops to use the router the way that Mr. Schwartz detailed. If I get bogged down in the wagon vice I may even buy a face vice and put dog holes in the hardwood inset instead. And I will probably just do some 3/4 round dog holes rather than the square ones.

re: the support. I was thinking that I would probably go with clamping the work bench to some sturdy saw horses – like I’ve seen on some Japanese work benches – which is basically a slab of hardwood laying across two saw horses.

Because my wood working skill (and tools) are pretty minimal the first effort will be out of dimensioned oak planks (big box store) glued up to a thickness somewhere around 2 inches. All the efforts I have seen on the web use hardwoods that have to be milled. Should be fun.

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