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.
The edges of MDF are fragile, easily crushed or torn. MDF is also notorious for absorbing water through these edges, causing the panels to swell. In Sam Allen's original design, he edged the MDF with 1/4" hardboard. This edging is one of the complexities that Asa Christiana left out in his simplified design. I think this was a mistake. MDF really needs some sort of protection, especially on the edges.
Save money by selecting the right woodworking tools you need to purchase. You will have an excellent understanding of what tools, equipment and workshop features you need to get started in woodworking. By purchasing only the right woodworking tools and equipment you need, you will save money, allowing you to invest in higher quality tools and woodworking machinery.
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.
In ancient times, the woodworker’s bench consisted of a plank or split log with four splayed legs. Descendants of those benches are manufactured today, usually with a top of hardwood slabs glued together. The norm nowadays is four straight legs supporting the bulk above, often with braces and a shelf below. Despite the improvements, the linkage to Greek and Roman antecedents is still evident.

Linseed oil sitting in a bowl, or spread on the surface of wood, is perfectly safe. But a linseed oil soaked rag provides a vastly increase surface area, so the oxidation happens faster, and the rag can provide insulation, trapping the heat. The increased temperature speeds up the oxidation even more, which raises the temperature even more, and the runaway feedback can quickly result in temperatures that will cause the rag to spontaneously burst into flame. This isn't one of those "do not drive car while sunscreen is in place" warnings. This is one of those "keep your finger off the trigger until you have the gun pointed at something you want to shoot" warnings. Rags soaked in linseed oil will catch fire, if you don't handle them properly, and they can do so far more quickly than you might think.
Applying the oil is easy. Put on some vinyl gloves, pour some oil in a bowl, take a piece of clean cotton cloth the size of washcloth or smaller, dip it in the oil, and apply it to the wood. You want the wood to be wet., you're not trying to rub it in until it's dry. Apply oil to the entire surface, and then go over it looking for dry spots, applying more oil as needed. After fifteen minutes of keeping it wet, let it sit for another fifteen minutes. Then apply another coat of oil, and let it sit for another fifteen minutes.
I used the factory edge of the half-panel of hardboard as a guide for cutting the ply. I wanted to cut a 5-1/2" strip, and my saw cuts 4-1/2" from the edge of the shoe, so I wanted the edge of the hardboard 10" from the edge of the ply. So I set my combination square to 10", and used it to mechanically set the distance. Hint - if you need two things to be precisely the same length, try to avoid measuring them separately. Use some mechanical mechanism for setting the distance.
Through demonstrations and practice you will learn how to build a Simple Table Top. Square wood using the Jointer, Planer and Table Saw, then learn how to use the Festool Domino Joiner to keep perfect registration during the glue up. This will be a group project where everyone will help build a single table top. The goal is to gain experience and confidence...
My first shop was a 8 x 10 ft room, actually a bedroom, with 10 ft high ceilings in a older home in Chicago. I had a 10" Craftsman TS, drill press, 8 1/4" Skil saw which still works, some welding tanks, hand tools and... my bed was a loft across the 10 ft length 4 ft down from the ceiling with a ladder against the wall to get up. I was 16 yrs old then, now I am 66 yrs, have 2 shops with Craftsman power tools up stairs, and Grizzly tools ,a Powermatic 68, a MIG welder, and other tools on the ground floor. I've come a long way, You think? I remember making bases for sculptures called "plinths", my first commission, in the living room, 5 pieces rather large, several ft long and wide. The house was haunted, and my mom told the "spirit" to leave and go back downstairs. There was a cold draft and the straw chair would rustle with no one sitting in it. Wow, does that bring back memories from the '60's.
The oldest woodworking shop in America has been discovered virtually untouched in Duxbury, Massachusetts. The extremely rare find reveals an 18th century joiner’s shop with the date ‘1789’ painted in the rafters. University of Delaware professor Ritchie Garrison came upon the historic structure on the site of a preschool, bringing several experts out to verify its age. Craftsmen used the shed to create intricate woodwork.
Thanks Chris! I found this page while looking for a link to your e-mail address. I recently finished your erudite volumes on workbench design, and am about to embark on my own bench inspired by your take on the Holtzapffel design. As my vices and planer arrive, I’ve been agonizing over whether to use SYP or rough maple for the top. I don’t have a big budget, so all-maple is not an option. But after reading your ten tips here, I’ll stop agonizing — all SYP it is! This is, after all, my first of what I hope are at least several handmade benches. Your scholarship and craftsmanship are truly inspiring.
The Classic Workbench is based largely on the famous Plate 11 workbench from Roubo’s “The Art of the Joinery”. We’ve built dozens of these “Roubo” benches over the past decade, helped others build hundreds more and examined extant French benches from the period. We haven’t changed our opinion on this fundamental design. French technical schools of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were outfitted with benches of the exact type. And prior to the 1950’s, you could easily buy a “Classic” workbench from any number of French supply houses. Benchcrafted continues the tradition by offering this excellent workbench, built in Iowa with American hardwoods to the highest standards.
I would say take the shed, you'll find some use for it. I have contemplated this question also. I have a 20' x 11' basement shop, thats quickly loosing space. If you live in an area with a harsh winters (say the midwest), does it make sense to heat the shop through the week if you are only working in the shop on the weekends? Or do you run the heaters just when you are working in the shop? What kind of heaters are recommended (radient, wood stove, etc.)?
The last thing is to semi-permanently attach the bolts for the vises. Given the amount of work necessary to get to the bolt heads, once the top is joined, I had intended to tighten them up so they wouldn't spin, and lock them that way with blue Loctite. (That's the strongest non-permanent grade.) That didn't work. What I found was that the bottoms of the countersinks weren't quite flat, and when I tightened the nuts down that far, the ends of the bolts would be pulled far enough out of alignment that the vise bases would no longer fit. In order for the vises to fit over the bolts, I had to leave the nuts loose enough that the bolts had a bit of wiggle - which meant that they were almost loose enough for the bolts to spin. So I put Loctite on the nuts, to keep them from unscrewing, and filled the countersinks with Liquid Nails, in hopes of keeping the bolts from spinning. I considered using epoxy, or a metal-epoxy mix like JB Weld, but I didn't have enough of either on hand. It seems to be working for now, though the real test won't be until I have to take the vises off.
The Classic Workbench is constructed entirely with in-compression-for-eternity drawbored mortise and tenons. It's as solid as humans can make it, short of growing a tree in the shape of a bench. The bench arrives at your shop completely assembled and ready to use. It doesn't knock down. The bench is built to the highest standards of traditional German craftsmanship in the utopian village of Amana Iowa. Our collaboration with the craftsmen in Amana, along with our experience in traditional workholding has yielded a workbench that is truly heirloom quality, but offered at what we think is a very reasonable price. We consider our flagship Split-Top Roubo as nearing the pinnacle of bench design (if there is such a thing) but we wanted to offer an essential bench built to high standards--an approachable but bulletproof tool for passionate enthusiasts of all levels, but especially intended for those just getting into the craft. Our principal bench maker has been steeped in the craft at the Amana Furniture Shop for nearly 50 years. Needless to say, a century and a half of woodworking tradition in Amana directly back to 19th century Germany speaks for itself. Many of the Amana craftsmen are multi-generational woodworkers.
Well, not these plans. You have the option of building a very functional and spacious lean-to shed on different foundations. Your foundation choices are: concrete slab, a wooden floor supported by concrete piers, or a wooden floor supported by skids. That lost option also means that your lean-to could be mobile as well so you won’t have to decide where you want to permanently put it.

2 - use a plunge router with a bottom bearing cuter bit such as this from rockler: http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=25160&site=ROCKLER .... I thought to use the short one as I plunge it directly downward in the centre of the hole until the bearing reaches within the tabletop hole. I suppose one could use a long one, but the stubbiness seemed more practical (the big bearing ensured accuracy?)
2. Did I mention the rain here? How is your shed built? Are flooring and walls sealed to prevent water blowing and leaking in? When we get our summer thunderstorms the winds can whip up the rain pretty good and I even have to make sure garage door is closed sometimes. The shed??? Yea. it gets wet inside no matter how much caulk I use on floor gaps. Mine is on slab and shed not really designed to be waterproof. That being said, even if I got floor sealed it still lets some water in where walls meet roof. Not lots but makes for extreme humidity (or dew point if you prefer) levels.
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