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.
Whether you’re setting up a new shop or upgrading your old one, a good, sturdy workbench will almost surely be central to your plans. We can help. Our editors and contributors have produced more than two dozen articles and videos about benches and assembly tables. We’ve included everything from a simple but workable plywood bench to a classic hardwood bench complete with vises. You’ll also find full project plans, as well as tips for installing vises, making your bench portable, adding storage, and more. Some of our workbench plans are free, and the rest can be purchased in our store (check the links below).
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.
If you decide upon construction lumber, you want kiln dry lumber. Green lumber will warp on you as it drys. Dig through the stacks and pick out the straightest, cleanest pieces. Generally, the boards that are sitting loose on the stack are those that other people left behind, as they sorted through looking for better. Be prepared to move them out of the way, and to dig down to the better stock. Be nice, though, and put everything back when you're done.
Those bums even have a stipulation that you can't connect any utilities to a shed. My plan is to adhere to the letter of the law if not the spirit. I plan to run a buried 20 amp power line out to the shed (this will be done professionally and properly according to whatever is required by the law), but it will require a manual connection to a junction box on the outside of my house to complete the circuit. That way, I can argue that the electrical connection is only temporary and is little more than a safe and buried version of an extension cord.
Let me see if I can come up with a couple details. The table saw is a TS3660. So I have heard, this should be the center of your shop. My jointer is a 6 1/8" Jointer / Planer JP0610 which is 45 inches in length. My router table is the kreg router table that takes up a 24 x 32 inch footprint. My bench is roughly 30 x 70 inches and my bandsaw is 3' x3'. I have other tools as well such as a portable 12.5 Delta thickness planer in addition to a wall mounted dust collector. To add to the list, I am just about to get a 10 inch makita sliding compound miter saw. I can see how space will be eaten up quickly. Any ideas as to how arrange these tools in such a small shop? I will get pics a soon a I
My first attempt at making a cutting guide didn't work. What I ended up with worked fine for cutting panels, but the guide-strip was too narrow, and when the saw was extended fully for rough-cutting the 4x4's the clamp heads got in the way. So I made another. Actually, I made two more, so that I could cut one into shorter pieces that would be easier to handle.
1. You mention doing other hobbies which I assume means stuff scattered around for various projects. (Don't tell me you do one at a time or are a neat freak!!!) How tall are the side walls to the shed? How high do you shuffle stuff around, i.e. flipping things over, moving wood around, etc? I can't imagine trying to do that in my shed, even if it were 2 ft higher than it's 7 ft center height. If you could build a platform in front it may help, especially if you can put removable cover over it (to please HOA).
Olympia Tools is a bit of a lesser known manufacturer. While they offer a wide range of products for a variety of construction fields, they are definitely more of a budget option. That said, Olympia Tools is one of the few brands that manages to produce a reasonable quality at a low price which makes them a solid choice for customers looking to get the best bang for the fewest bucks.
Cerritos College Woodworking, one of the finest woodworking schools in Southern California, offers classes in furniture making, cabinetmaking, CNC woodworking, and related topics. Cerritos is the school for you, whether your goal is to acquire new knowledge, gain confidence in or improve your skills, enter the field of professional woodworking, or develop a rewarding hobby.
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.
The course successfully meets the needs of multiple experience levels in a safe, well equipped, spacious, congenial, and educational environment. All instruction and lab experience is under the personal direction of master woodworkers as well as one or two additional experienced woodworkers/teacher assistants who are on hand during all lab hours providing roughly a three-to-one student-to-instructor ratio. Intermediate to more advanced students should not be put off by the fact that beginners are also included in this course. Check out some of the work done by our alumni in the Alumni Furniture Gallery to get an idea of what our students are capable of.
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.
A better solution would have been to route a rabbet into the side, so that the added strip always had thickness. The way I did it means that the strip I glued in is very narrow, and hence very weak, at a certain point. In this case, that's not a problem, because it's going to be sitting under the countertop layer. I also noticed that because I had only clamped the strip down, and not into the edge, there was a noticeable glue gap where the strip butted up against the MDF. Again, in this application it isn't visible. But if I was doing something like this on the top of a table, I'd make sure to cut a clean rabbet, and to clamp both down and in.
WoodSkills and Norman Pirollo offer online woodworking classes, woodworking plans, video lectures and woodworking tutorials. The classes and courses provide detailed and comprehensive step by step sequences for woodworking skill-building. Each woodworking class and tutorial is based on actual furniture making expertise. As founder of White Mountain Design , Refined Edge Design , WoodSkills and Pirollo Design, I bring to you two decades of knowledge in furniture making. In recent years, I have authored three woodworking books:
This is used to secure workpieces in place while you work on them – often for jointing. The location and capacity are the important things to look at. Most vices will come on a right-hand configuration either on the front or the side of the bench. If possible, it is a good idea to look for vices that can be repositioned. In terms of capacity, anything over 5” is solid while anything under 4” is likely a bit too small for all projects.
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.
Mine is similar but a bit more robust. The top is a sandwich, two 18mm sheets of WBP ply with an 18mm mdf filling. The legs are mortise and tenoned together, the ends glued and pegged, the stretchers are joined with long bolts so it comes apart. I stiffened it by adding a very closely fitted cabinet underneath (it had to go in dead square) and it is now absolutely rock solid.
@cahudson42 I bored the holes in my sandwich top with a 3/4" power auger bit with the drill in a portable drill guide that kept it vertical and in a way a bit like a plunge router. The guide screw of the auger was dead easy to centre over the laid out grid points. The holes are dead straight and clean sided. The auger bit was new which probably helped. As stated I have three rows from an end vise running the length of the front as well as from the front vise and holes in the front apron to support long pieces as well.
If you remember, when drilling the MDF I finished the holes from the other side using a Forstner bit. It made for a clean hole, but the positioning wasn't as precise as I really wanted. So for this, I decided to clamp a length of scrap MDF to the back side, and to drill straight through. My Forstner bits were too short, so I bought an extender. And then I found that the spade bits I was using gave a cleaner exit hole. Whooda thunk?
Stop it. Really. I mean it. Pick a height between your thigh and waist that seems right. You’ll adapt. Don’t worry about your back. You’ll adapt. If you are really uncertain, make it a little taller and then cut down the legs. After a decade or so, your work habits will put a magic number in your head. You’ll have built enough furniture that you will know your number. Until then, pick a number.
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.”
This is definitely going to be one of the easiest woodworking projects you’ll be reading about today. So why not just get started? The tutorial link is given below. Just do exactly what they are saying in the tutorial and you will end up making a beautiful wooden doormat just like the one in the image above. They are using pine wood to build this doormat. You can choose any wood material that best suits your budget.
I am new to woodworking. I'm learning as I go along, and I'm documenting as I learn, in the hope of being helpful to other novices. On the range from slap-dash to deliberate, my method is definitely on the deliberate side. If you have enough experience to be confident in using techniques that are more time-efficient, go for it. The techniques I'm using are those I thought least likely to go wrong, not those that would produce a product in the shortest time or at the lowest cost. You'll notice that I made a number of mistakes, spent considerable time on work I later determined to be unnecessary, and in a number of cases I used different techniques at the end than I did at the beginning. These are all the result of learning. I thought it would be better to demonstrate how I made errors, and how I corrected them, than to provide a set of instructions that presented the false impression that everything went together perfectly.
1. In this post, you kindly remind us not to make it too deep or worry too much about the height. I presume you still believe a bench cannot be too long or too heavy? I’m with you — just asking if that’s actually still your opinion, since the bench above appears to be yet another six footer. (If longer is better, why don’t you build an 8 or 10′ for your home shop?) TYIA – remember, I’ve bought all my lumber to start my new bench, but I haven’t milled anything yet, so you’re really helping in an immediate way here!
I’ve seen antique cabinetmakers’ benches that are sixteen and seventeen feet long, more than three feet wide, and supported by a dozen drawers and doors—and that weigh as much as a felled oak tree. In contrast, jewelers’ cabinets seem to be on a dollhouse scale, with tiny tools to match. For most of us, however, space limitations preclude the biggest, and the smallest are just not big enough.
You are absolutely right on your advise. When I was agonizing over how to build a workbench my good friend turned me on to your book on workbenches. I was planning on having an overhang until I read your advise about building a workbench and not a table. So the entire front and rear surfaces; top, legs and bottom shelf are all in the same plane to clamp my work to. The addition of a sliding dead man was also something that I would have never thought of on my own. Thanks again for your advise.
The Handy Home Products Berkley 10 ft. x The Handy Home Products Berkley 10 ft. x 10 ft. Wood Storage Building Kit is made with factory-primed SmartSide siding to resist fungal decay and wood-destroying insects. The Berkley’s gambrel style roof provides plenty of height to add a loft for extra storage space. The 6 ft. high side walls ... More + Product Details Close
Another awesome thing about this coffee table is that it is also has a storage unit. So you can store drinks, and other stuff in the half barrel of your table and then close or open it whenever you need. Pete has also constructed a video for this tutorial for which you can find the link below. It illustrates the same process in a video guide that shows you the exact process to be followed while building this whiskey barrel coffee table.
Anyway, I'd like to know if I'll be able to keep (EDIT: and use) all my tools out there (current and planned) without having the shed become a rust-bucket for the tools and machinery inside. I'll have a 10" contractor's saw out there along with a drill press, a sanding belt, a router & router table, and lots and lots of old tools that I inherited from my Granddad years ago. I live in the Seattle area, so it rains A LOT. But I'm hoping that with the proper ventilation I can keep the tools in the shed dry.