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.

I got this idea from a Pinterest post. The final product looks so beautiful that I just couldn’t wait to make one for myself. This was somewhat a different experience from my other regular DIY projects as it doesn’t involve making something from scratch, but turning an existing wood piece into another one. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it very much and the final product was very satisfying. The tutorial I used is linked below.
I decided to make my own top out of white ash because I had access to a planer and jointer at my local college where I was taking an intro woodworking class. Trim and vice jaws are white ash as well. Everything else is built pretty much as jdege describes. A plunge router with a 3/4" spiral up bit really made quick work of the dog holes. Finished with Danish oil.
With the shelf secure, get a couple of friends to come help, and stand the bench on its feet. I said earlier moving the top by yourself is dangerous. Trying to lift the entire bench is foolhardy. Of course, I already said I'm stubborn, so I did it myself by rigging a simple block-and-tackle using lightweight pulleys I got at the hardware store. (Not the lightest-weight pulleys, those are meant for flag poles and have a design load of something like 40 pounds. These had a design load of 420 pounds.)
After I left the magazine for a new job, I did all of my woodworking in my small two-car garage, but it was a struggle. Power, lighting, and temperature control were limited. And because I shared space with our cars I was always moving machines around, often while in the middle of a project. On top of that, my tool and machine collection had long since eclipsed the space. For all these reasons, fixing up the garage wasn’t an option. My finished basement is a family room, so it was out, too. An addition to the home or a stand-alone building would have been too expensive. I had to find a better path to a shop.
×