As simple as its elements are, the workbench is more than a tabletop with legs, a well, and a few holes. Virtually everything in the workshop comes to rest on the bench at some point, even if only between operations at other stations. Planning and layout, cutting and shaping, assembling and finishing–all can be, and often are, performed on the benchtop. The better the design, and the better suited its size and configuration to your labors, the more efficient a tool it will be.
Can you believe that this amazing wine rack the image below has been built using old wood pallets? Perhaps you can. Isn’t it wonderful that your old wood pallets can be reused to build something so beautiful and useful? I am not a drinker but I liked the idea so much that I just couldn’t resist making myself one. Although later I gifted it to my parents, who totally loved it.
Flip the base upright, put the MDF on top of it, then use a straightedge to draw two straight lines joining the outside edges of the legs and extending the width of the MDF. I used the countertop as the straightedge. We cut it with our cutting guide, which is based on the factory edge of a sheet of 1/4" plywood, so it should be straight enough. Use a carpenter's square to transfer these lines onto the ends of the MDF.
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With my second attempt at edge guides, I made the other rough-cut. On this, the edge guide worked fine, but the end of the cuts revealed that the saw blade wasn't quite square. So I adjusted the blade, clamped all four legs together, and made what would be the first final cut, if it came out clean enough. It didn't. I'd let the saw drift a bit away from the guide edge. So I adjusted the saw, moving the guide back half an inch, and tried again. the rough-cut parts were a couple of inches longer than they needed to be, so I had room to work with,. It's only the final cut at the other end that you only have one chance at.
Great advice. May I add #11?…if you’re left handed (like me), build a left handed bench. It sounds obvious, but when I made my bench, I had looked at all the pictures in my books, laid out plans for a nice, traditional bench, built it, then realized my front vise should have been on the other end (I have no tail vise). I plane from left to right, and the front vise is always in the way.
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.