What is the one thing every woodworker needs? Yes, a workbench. Now that you have or at least I am assuming you have worked on so many woodworking projects, you are close to becoming a professional woodworker. You now probably owe yourself a nice woodworking bench. You should also know that a true woodworker never buys his bench from the market, but always builds one himself. But before you start this project, you should know what a workbench is.
For the router you'll need a a 3/8" straight bit, an edge guide, 1/4"- and 1/8"-radius roundover bits, and a flush-trim bit with at least a 1-1/2" cutting length. Bits of this size are available only for a 1/2" collet. Some routers are capable of using multiple collet sizes. I was fool enough to buy a router that only had a 1/4" collet. More on that, later.
All glue & stain benches are made using a solid maple frame for lasting durability and strength. Side Clamp Benches are made specifically for bar clamps, and are used for gluing projects or clamp storage. Benches feature an open top with 17 sets of 3/4"W grooves that accept bar clamps measuring 3’ and over. Lower center rail is adaptable for storage of hand screws and C-clamps. Side clamp benches are available with or without a drip pan. Glue & Stain Benches are made with a 1-1/4” plywood top covered with heavy-coated galvanized steel. Bottom shelf has a 4” rear retaining lip. Glue and stain benches are available with or without casters. Limited Lifetime Warranty.
I wanted the left edge of the jaw of the front vise to be flush with the left edge of the top, the right edge with the left edge of the left front leg. So the amount of overhang on the left depends upon the width of the front vise jaw. The width of the jaw is, at a minimum, the width of the plate that supports it, but it's normal to make the jaw extend a bit beyond the plate. How far? The more it extends, the deeper a bite you can take with the edge of the vise, when, for example, you are clamping the side of a board being held vertically. But the more it extends, the less support it has. I decided to extend by 1-12", which gives me a 2-1/2" bite, and which should still provide solid support, given that the jaw is 1-1/2" thick. This means the top needs a left overhang of 12-1/4".
A woodworker's workbench isn't a table, it's a work-holding system. It's not something you set things on top of, it's a tool that holds your work. Where a worktable might have a machinist's vise bolted to its top, a woodworker's bench is built to accommodate a number of different workholding mechanisms, such as bench dogs, planing stops, hold fasts, or board jacks, and will usually have one more woodworker's vises integrated into its structure.
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 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.
My name is Takami Kawai and I'm a traditional Japanese carpenter and architect with over 16 years of experience in sustainable design and construction. As much as conditions allow, I enjoy using traditional Japanese techniques. My experience includes working for the world renown, Ise Jingu Grand Shrine. I have also hosted numerous presentations on traditional Japanese woodworking. Now, I run a small construction firm, Suikoushya, which specializes in the restoration of traditional Japanese houses.

Post Woodworking’s Hampton shed is a major standout in design. The sleek farmers porch immediately draws the eye into its pure New England charm and provides the utility of shade and a cool place to sit and enjoy a cold one. Like all of our sheds, the six-panel doors which add to the structure’s aesthetic come standard. They’re made out of fiberglass to last through many decades out in the elements.
×