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 top is supported by the top ends of the legs and the top sides of the top stretchers. Stand your legs on end on a flat surface (like my door) and see if they wobble. If you have an end that isn't quite stable, use it as a foot, where the leveler will make it's flaws unimportant. Check the top edge of each stretcher for straightness. If one has a bit of a bow, use it for a lower stretcher. It's less critical that the shelf be well supported along its length.
This bench suffers from no such limitations as it provides an incredibly solid and stable workspace, albeit in a somewhat stripped down version. In terms of performance, Sjobergs tops our list at providing 80 lbs of weight capacity. This is one of the more quantifiable measurements to determine the quality of a work bench’s craftsmanship. This is achieved by using thick pieces of European birch wood and working it without using lower end joints – like butt joints.
If you're using drywall screws, you'll want to countersink the holes. Drywall screws are flat-head, and need a countersink to seat solidly. If you're using Kreg pocket screws, the way I did, you won't want to counter-sink the holes. Kreg screws are pan-head, and seat just fine against a flat surface. Both drywall screws and Kreg pocket screws are self-threading, so you don't need pilot holes in the second sheet of MDF.
I wanted the left edge of the jaw of the front vise to be flush with the left edge of the top, the right edge with the left edge of the left front leg. So the amount of overhang on the left depends upon the width of the front vise jaw. The width of the jaw is, at a minimum, the width of the plate that supports it, but it's normal to make the jaw extend a bit beyond the plate. How far? The more it extends, the deeper a bite you can take with the edge of the vise, when, for example, you are clamping the side of a board being held vertically. But the more it extends, the less support it has. I decided to extend by 1-12", which gives me a 2-1/2" bite, and which should still provide solid support, given that the jaw is 1-1/2" thick. This means the top needs a left overhang of 12-1/4".
We want to make these pieces square, and of identical length. Square is a matter of making sure the saw blade is square and that the cutting guide is square. The trick to getting the pieces of the same length is to clamp them together and to cut them all at once. For the 4x4's, that means making a rough cut in each first, so we have four pieces, each 3-4" longer than we need, from which we'll get our four legs.
The Classic Workbench is simple to use. The leg vise is used primarily for working the edges of boards and the ends of narrower boards. This is self explanatory. To work the faces of boards along the grain, tap up the planing stop (don’t make it any higher than necessary) and butt the end of the board into the teeth of the stop. With the right technique you can plane across wide boards without repositioning the board. You usually don’t need to tap the opposite end of the board to engage it with the stop, but in some cases, especially with rougher stock, you may need to give a tap with your mallet. Working the faces of a stack of boards is extremely quick with the planing stop since you don’t have to open and close a vise constantly. To work across the face of a board, make yourself a doe’s foot and position it at the back corner of the board, holding it down with a holdfast. The doe’s foot is simply a piece of wood with a V-shaped notch cut into one end. The bottomsurface of the doe’s foot can be lined with sandpaper or Crubber to help it stay put on the bench top. To work long boards, fasten a batten to the right leg with a holdfast and use that to support the end of the long board. We’ve found that a deadman is not necessary for the majority of work, especially on a bench of this length. For working the ends of smaller boards the leg vise can be used, but for precision work like dovetailing, we use and recommend our Moxon Vise.
My wife has given me the OK to buy a "Rancher"-style shed from Lowes and have it installed in the backyard. The discounted installed price will be about $2,600 and this includes the 12' x 8' structure along with a lot of upgrades (twin metal doors, a window, 2 skylights, storage, vents, etc.). I can save about $300 if I build it myself, but my skill level isn't there yet, so I'm going to pay Lowes to assemble it. (See Post #12 below for some photos of the shed and the space I have to work with.)