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.
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.
Be careful. Single 24x60" sheets of 3/4" MDF are pretty easy to lift. A doubled sheet is manageable. The countertop - 24x72" panel of 1-1/2" oak - weighs something over 100 pounds. It takes real care to lift safely. The joined top - 3" thick of oak and MDF - is past the range that can be lifted safely by one person. Don't try. Get a friend to help, or rig a block-and-tackle.
First, we need to drill out the holes for the screws that will hold them together. While the two layers of MDF are glued, the countertop and the MDF will only be screwed. The oak countertop, like any natural wood product, will expand and contract with humidity changes. If it were glued to the MDF, the difference in expansion of the two layers would cause the countertop to buckle and curl.

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Workbenches have flat tops, though sometimes at the rear there is a cavity called a tool well that contains tools and components (and prevents them from falling off). One advantage of having the well set into the top of the bench is that, even with a variety of objects in the well, a large sheet of material can still be laid flat over the entire surface of the bench; the contents of the tool well offer no interference.
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.
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.
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