The bench I will be describing differs from both of these in a couple of areas, the most significant of which is the top. Allen's top was made from three layers of 3/4" medium density fiberboard (MDF), topped and edged with 1/4" hardboard. Christiana's top was just two layers of 3/4" MDF. My top is two layers of 3/4" MDF edged with 1/2" oak and topped by a 1-1/2" thick edge-glued oak Ikea countertop. My top is more expensive in both time and money than either Christiana's or Allen's. If you're looking to build something fast and cheap, I'd recommend Allen's approach over Christiana's. The hardboard significantly increases the durability of the top.


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Quality is what we do, YOU will do it too, from day one. We will teach you all stages from choosing hand tools, to picking out wood, to developing your drawings, and building a portfolio of work. There are lots of workshop schools, courses, and magazines that are great for showing you an amateur way of getting a good result. An amateur has no excuse for poor work other than lack of understanding, the amateur has all day to get it right, the professional has not. They must do it right, first time, every day.

This is technically a vanity factor, though the ability to store tools and other supplies at quick reach can be a time and energy saver. At the least, you will want a bench that comes with a shelf underneath. This will allow the storage of larger items that can otherwise be difficult to find a place for. Drawers are the other popular storage for benches and can make retrieving tools much easier – just make sure the inside of the drawer is lined with felt or the wood may prematurely dull your tools.

It has been a while since I have posted last, but I do have a question I am pondering. A close family friend has offered to buy me a shed (16 x 12). It looks nice. Double doors, two front windows, vinly siding, and hopefully a ridge vent. Currently I am based in my basement with enough room for my Rigid table saw, bandsaw workbench, some cabinets with very little room for my hand tools, so I used a wall with peg board, and my jointer. My dust collection hangs on the wall as well. (I am being moved outside to free up space in the basement) It is very cramped, but it works. My question is, do wood shops work outside? I know to take precautions of moisture and heat (insulation, dehumidifier, heat for cold season, and so on) but how often to shed workshops work out? Anyone have any ideas on how to keep my tools safe and secondly, does 16 x 12 sound like enough room? Please, I would love some friendly advice.
With the inner jaw fastened to the bench, I used the router to flush-trim the jaw to the benchtop, across the top and down the sides adjacent to the top (stopping short of the discontinuity between the top and the legs). I'd thought this would be the best way to match up the jaw against the top, but I'd not do it this way again. It was very difficult to hold the router tight against the face of the jaw, and the result was a surface that wasn't as even as I had hoped.

Cut 15 top boards 5 ft. long and rip them to 3 in. wide with a table saw so the top will glue up flat without the typical rounded edges of 2x4s. For the leg slot, cut two of the top boards into three pieces: a 39-in. middle piece and two 7-in. end pieces. Glue and screw the top together, one board at a time, with 3-in. deck screws, keeping the ripped edge facing up and level with the adjoining boards. Use a corded drill so there’s plenty of oomph to drive each screw below the surface. Note that the third glue-up from each end is where each leg notch is inserted. You can also create a nifty tool tray in the top by notching the three top pieces with a jigsaw. Clamp every 8 in. or so before driving in the 3-in.deck screws. Predrill the screw holes near the ends to prevent splitting. When you’re screwing on the 7-in. long 2x4s to create the leg slots, use a scrap piece of 2×4 as a spacer.
The end vise will have both jaws made out of 1-1/2" thick oak. The front vise has its moving jaw made of 1-1/2" oak, but uses the edge of the bench as its stationary jaw. So while for the end vise, if we mount it lower, we can make both the jaws deeper to compensate, for the front vise we cannot, so we want it mounted as close to the edge of the bench as possible.

The base needs to be as wide as the sum of width of the guide strip and the distance from the edge of the shoe, plus a bit extra, With my saw, the overhang is 3-1/2", so I made my guide strip 5-1/2" wide. The distance between from the edge of the shoe to the blade is about 4-1/2", so the base needs to be at least 10" wide. Since I was working with a 24" wide sheet, I just sliced it down the middle.
The hacksaw will often damage the last thread when it cuts. Running a nut off the end will fix this. You'll have to run the nut all the way down from the other end. This doesn't take long, if you chuck up the rod in your drill and let it do the work. Hold the rod vertically, with the drill pointing down, and just hold on to the nut enough to keep it from spinning.
I used the factory edge of the half-panel of hardboard as a guide for cutting the ply. I wanted to cut a 5-1/2" strip, and my saw cuts 4-1/2" from the edge of the shoe, so I wanted the edge of the hardboard 10" from the edge of the ply. So I set my combination square to 10", and used it to mechanically set the distance. Hint - if you need two things to be precisely the same length, try to avoid measuring them separately. Use some mechanical mechanism for setting the distance.
This place is so awesome. I just finished their cutting board class with Bob and it was a blast! he was very patient and informative. I showed him a handle I saw online and he actually helped me do it with my board and we ended up going over time of the class and I learned a ton (thanks bob!! You are the best!) I also took the wooden utensils class with tim and it was so much fun. I highly recommend this woodshop everyone there is so nice and down to earth
I would say take the shed, you'll find some use for it. I have contemplated this question also. I have a 20' x 11' basement shop, thats quickly loosing space. If you live in an area with a harsh winters (say the midwest), does it make sense to heat the shop through the week if you are only working in the shop on the weekends? Or do you run the heaters just when you are working in the shop? What kind of heaters are recommended (radient, wood stove, etc.)?
A woodworker's workbench isn't a table, it's a work-holding system. It's not something you set things on top of, it's a tool that holds your work. Where a worktable might have a machinist's vise bolted to its top, a woodworker's bench is built to accommodate a number of different workholding mechanisms, such as bench dogs, planing stops, hold fasts, or board jacks, and will usually have one more woodworker's vises integrated into its structure.
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The edges of MDF are fragile, easily crushed or torn. MDF is also notorious for absorbing water through these edges, causing the panels to swell. In Sam Allen's original design, he edged the MDF with 1/4" hardboard. This edging is one of the complexities that Asa Christiana left out in his simplified design. I think this was a mistake. MDF really needs some sort of protection, especially on the edges.
2. Did I mention the rain here? How is your shed built? Are flooring and walls sealed to prevent water blowing and leaking in? When we get our summer thunderstorms the winds can whip up the rain pretty good and I even have to make sure garage door is closed sometimes. The shed??? Yea. it gets wet inside no matter how much caulk I use on floor gaps. Mine is on slab and shed not really designed to be waterproof. That being said, even if I got floor sealed it still lets some water in where walls meet roof. Not lots but makes for extreme humidity (or dew point if you prefer) levels.
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