Workbench Questions

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Forum topic by Bigtones posted 06-03-2014 04:39 AM 1365 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Bigtones's profile


19 posts in 1802 days

06-03-2014 04:39 AM

Hello, and thanks for any input.

I will be starting my very first woodworking project, and was hoping for some help before I get started. I am planning on building a workbench as you probably surmised from the title of my thread and had a couple of questions before I began this endeavor.

1. Is overhang necessary when building a workbench for vises to be installed properly?
2. Can Bench Dogs be used in plywood?
3. Are aprons necessary?

I plan on making a 3’ x 7’ Bench. Was planning on laminating 2×4’s for the legs and using two 3/4” sheets of plywood that measure 4×8 for the top (not sure if I will use a piece of MDF as sacrificial or not). This will be an economy build but I would like to have as many features that are necessary and a front and tail vise seem to me to be necessary. I was also planning on welding a 2” tall x 4” wide piece of 1/2” mild steel to the top of my tail vise to act as my carriage and was intending on drilling round dog holes “roubo style” and purchasing or making my own dogs.

Those are the basics. Nothing has been purchased and is only in the development stages as of now.

Thank you for any help/advice/criticism given as all are welcome in this thread.


-- Boilermaker By Trade, Woodworker By Love.

8 replies so far

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3431 days

#1 posted 06-03-2014 04:57 AM

I used a solid core door (36×80) cut down to 30×44, and laminated white Formica on top. It can’t be replaced but I will just make a new one when this one wears out. The table frame is strong and sturdy. The top is heavy. It is not even attached to the frame. :-)

I made sure the top had a 2 inch overhang so I could clamp stuff. I do that a lot.
Here is a link to my new work table/outfeed table/assembly bench. Everything happens here because I work in a one car garage. :-(

Hope this helps.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2777 days

#2 posted 06-03-2014 11:32 AM

1. I like an overhang for clamping things too.
2. Yes; that’s my current setup.
3. For a plywood bench, I use them. Not really necessary for a big solid wood top.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15694 posts in 2818 days

#3 posted 06-03-2014 11:51 AM

Toni, the tools you favor play a role in the bench you make. The vises you speak of sound like a hand tool reference, but that’s a guess. If so, check out a couple workbench books. One by Scott Landis, the other is the blue workbenches book by Chris Schwarz. They will collectively open up a world of choices and deliver reasons for choosing aprons or not, vises on face or end, round vs. square dogs, etc.

Oh, and feel free to check out the workbench thread here on LJs, the workbench smack down. Lots of expertise there (more insightful than I can be).

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Bigtones's profile


19 posts in 1802 days

#4 posted 06-03-2014 05:37 PM

I appreciate all the responses.

@MTStringer: That Workbench looks like a Mule in the best way possible. You have definitely given me ideas on how to frame my new Bench.

@SmittyCabinetshop: Thank you for the references and I will start making my way through those for sure. The Smack Down sounds like a good time.

Also, I do plan on making it better suited for hand tools, but I do not want to cripple myself complete from power tools. Hand tools will be the center point to my woodworking though.

-- Boilermaker By Trade, Woodworker By Love.

View JayT's profile


5960 posts in 2411 days

#5 posted 06-03-2014 06:12 PM

+1 to Smitty’s suggestion of the Workbench Smackdown thread.

Hand tools will be the center point to my woodworking though.

If that is the case, here is another suggestion for you to consider. Two layers of 3/4 plywood is not a very thick or heavy top. It might be OK for power tool work, but is far too light and not rigid enough for hand tool work. I would encourage you to consider a laminated top. It would take a bit more time, but is no more expensive than plywood if you use 2x construction lumber. A couple examples those in different styles are TerryR's and mine. Another suggestion is to check out Paul Sellers’ blog series which is full of helpful hints, tips and ideas.

If you do go the plywood route, make sure to look at shipwright’s excellent benches. The original and the smaller version. He has good blog posts about the construction, too.

My bench is primarily for hand tool work, but do some power tool work on it, as well, and it works great either way. I’ve found it is much easier to adapt a hand tool centric bench for power tool use rather than vice versa.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View Texcaster's profile


1287 posts in 1874 days

#6 posted 06-03-2014 08:08 PM

For me there is no difference between hand and power tool bench work. My benches must be very stout and have holding options to allow for hands free work. If you have an assembly table your bench doesn’t have to be large.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 2135 days

#7 posted 06-03-2014 08:23 PM

1. I don’t think so, but I have one. I like it because it frees up room for my feet below my vise.
2. Yep, as long as it is decent plywood
3. Aprons are not totally necessary, but I will say this: Make sure you have a little bit of overhang on all sides if you mount the top on a cabinet-type base. You will clamp anything and everything to this bench for the next few years and you will need to have good access for clamps around the edges. This overhang can be your plywood, but a little 2×4 apron around the edge will help it last longer.

Other comments:
- 3’x7’ is huge. Mine started as 3’x6’ and I ended up cutting it down to 2’x6’. The long dimension may be fine, but unless you are 6’11”, you don’t need a 3’ deep bench. Mine took up so much room that I just trimmed off a foot of it. You could still make it double layer with one sheet of plywood and if you put a 2×4 apron all around, you will still have a 27” wide bench, which is plenty.


Good Luck

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View Bigtones's profile


19 posts in 1802 days

#8 posted 06-04-2014 12:20 AM

Thank you for the continued support.

@JayT: I have been following Paul Sellers for quite some time and have decided to either just go his route and follow his Youtube series on building a bench and go straight for what that man created.

@Texcaster: I’m working out of a single car garage. One half will be my “shoppe” and the other half will be for storage and such.

@Thewoodenoyster: You are right about the dimensions, I may make it longer, but 36” is way to much for the width, especially since it will more than likely be up against a wall.

-- Boilermaker By Trade, Woodworker By Love.

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