A couple nice qualities about this bench include the weight and vice capacities. The weight capacity of this bench is 330 pounds which is decent, though it will not wow you too much. The vice, on the other hand, provides a 7” capacity which is tied for the most on our list. That said, there is only a single vice, and it is not able to be repositioned. This can make things a bit frustrating for lefties as it is a right-handed configuration.
For one, the bench itself is a good size. While its width as a tad short at just over 1 ½’, the length is a great 5’ long. Even better, this bench is made out of birch wood. Birchwood is similar to beech in that it is strong but soft enough to prevent inadvertent dulling of your tools. However, birch has a bit of an advantage over beech in that it is not a porous which makes staining on the Windsor Design a more worry-free affair.
One aspect of the Windsor Design that is hit or miss is the vice. Notice we have to use the singular when describing it because this is the first workbench that we have reviewed which features only one vice. To make matters more frustrating, the vice cannot be repositioned along the bench. That said, the vice does at least have the largest capacity out of any we reviewed. At 7” capacity, the Windsor Design vice can secure any size workpiece you may have.
One you have the vise jaws shaped so that the vise moves freely, mark and drill holes in the fixed jaw for the bolts that will hold it to the bench. With these drilled, reassemble the vise and mark the location of the holes with an awl. Disassemble the vise and drill the holes through the stretcher, then reassemble the vise and bolt the inner jaw in place.
At the age of 9, Mark’s interest in woodworking began, which led him to begin an apprenticeship with Homestead Heritage Furniture at the age of 17. In his own shop he has built many pieces of furniture from small dovetail boxes to large 10′ round conference tables. Most of his work has been for clients who have ordered custom pieces for their homes and offices. Mark has been building custom furniture for the last 20 years and is now the manager of the Heritage Furniture business. Mark enjoys making hand tools and jigs that can simplify the building process. He has taught children how to shape simple utensils like wooden spoons and cutting boards as well as other larger projects. “Seeing the young grow to maturity in their craft is what I appreciate.”
A workbench needs to be heavy enough that it doesn't move under you while you're working, and stiff enough that it doesn't rack itself to pieces under the forces that will be placed upon it. It doesn't take many hours of planing a board or hammering a chisel for a worktable made of nailed 2x4s to come apart. Traditional bench designs use mortise-and-tenon joinery, which is strong and rigid, but not really suited for a novice woodworker who doesn't already have a bench.
As I was handling the 2x4's, during the routing, I realized that I really wouldn't be happy with the look of the bench, if it were made from these unfinished boards. They had stamps, pencil marks, and more importantly, incipient splinters left by the saw, none of which I wanted. And I was remembering what other shop furniture made from unfinished pine had looked like, after a few years in the grime of a shop.
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.