Synopsis: No room in the garage? Basement not an option? Consider what Ken St. Onge did when he needed shop space: He bought a prefabricated shed and converted it into his full-time woodshop. Because a pre-built shed doesn’t need a cement foundation and is built in a factory, it’s much less expensive than building an addition or stand-alone shop on your property. It can have taller ceilings than a garage and bigger doors than a basement, both big pluses for a woodworker. You can put a shed just about anywhere, too. Here’s a soup to nuts look at Ken’s experience, so you can gauge whether a shop in a shed is right for you.
While $115 may seem expensive, try accurately boring a grid of 20mm holes on 96mm centers in 3/4 MDF. I have for a table for our retirement community shop - - its a pita. Plus the MFT material seems denser and more water resistant than garden-variety MDF. And the single-thickness has proven sufficient the last several years on my original 1080s. Still dead flat.
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.
Cut 15 top boards 5 ft. long and rip them to 3 in. wide with a table saw so the top will glue up flat without the typical rounded edges of 2x4s. For the leg slot, cut two of the top boards into three pieces: a 39-in. middle piece and two 7-in. end pieces. Glue and screw the top together, one board at a time, with 3-in. deck screws, keeping the ripped edge facing up and level with the adjoining boards. Use a corded drill so there’s plenty of oomph to drive each screw below the surface. Note that the third glue-up from each end is where each leg notch is inserted. You can also create a nifty tool tray in the top by notching the three top pieces with a jigsaw. Clamp every 8 in. or so before driving in the 3-in.deck screws. Predrill the screw holes near the ends to prevent splitting. When you’re screwing on the 7-in. long 2x4s to create the leg slots, use a scrap piece of 2×4 as a spacer.
In the Port Townsend School of Woodworking’s twelve-week Woodworking Foundation course, you will learn the essential skills, tools and mindsets of the traditional joiner. This is NOT an industrial arts course with a focus on machinery and production processes. Rather, it is a course in PRE-industrial artisanship--the creation of individual works through mostly hand tools and skills.. 

Cut 15 top boards 5 ft. long and rip them to 3 in. wide with a table saw so the top will glue up flat without the typical rounded edges of 2x4s. For the leg slot, cut two of the top boards into three pieces: a 39-in. middle piece and two 7-in. end pieces. Glue and screw the top together, one board at a time, with 3-in. deck screws, keeping the ripped edge facing up and level with the adjoining boards. Use a corded drill so there’s plenty of oomph to drive each screw below the surface. Note that the third glue-up from each end is where each leg notch is inserted. You can also create a nifty tool tray in the top by notching the three top pieces with a jigsaw. Clamp every 8 in. or so before driving in the 3-in.deck screws. Predrill the screw holes near the ends to prevent splitting. When you’re screwing on the 7-in. long 2x4s to create the leg slots, use a scrap piece of 2×4 as a spacer.

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.
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.
Requirements and electives for the certificate and degree programs in cabinet and fine woodworking include an advanced cabinetry lab and a course in Euro-style hardware. Students in both the construction and cabinet programs can also learn about business contracts, receive training in computer technology and participate in a cooperative work experience.
The bench I will be describing differs from both of these in a couple of areas, the most significant of which is the top. Allen's top was made from three layers of 3/4" medium density fiberboard (MDF), topped and edged with 1/4" hardboard. Christiana's top was just two layers of 3/4" MDF. My top is two layers of 3/4" MDF edged with 1/2" oak and topped by a 1-1/2" thick edge-glued oak Ikea countertop. My top is more expensive in both time and money than either Christiana's or Allen's. If you're looking to build something fast and cheap, I'd recommend Allen's approach over Christiana's. The hardboard significantly increases the durability of the top.
Windsor Design is an interesting brand in that it is not actually its own company. Instead, Windsor Design is one of the in-house brands sold by Harbor Freight. While it may be a store brand, that should not dissuade you at all as Harbor Freight is known for selling some of the best products available for all fields of construction. Granted, this may not strictly be the best table available, but it does provide a solid mix of features to make it a good value.
You may even want to put yourself in the picture. If your workshop space already exists, find a large piece of cardboard, wallboard, or plywood that’s about the size of the workbench top you envision. Find a couple of stools or chairs, perhaps a few books, and turn them into stanchions to support the “benchtop.” Is it too big for the space? Is it large enough for the tasks you envision will be performed upon it?
Flip the base upright, put the MDF on top of it, then use a straightedge to draw two straight lines joining the outside edges of the legs and extending the width of the MDF. I used the countertop as the straightedge. We cut it with our cutting guide, which is based on the factory edge of a sheet of 1/4" plywood, so it should be straight enough. Use a carpenter's square to transfer these lines onto the ends of the MDF.
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.
The base needs to be as wide as the sum of width of the guide strip and the distance from the edge of the shoe, plus a bit extra, With my saw, the overhang is 3-1/2", so I made my guide strip 5-1/2" wide. The distance between from the edge of the shoe to the blade is about 4-1/2", so the base needs to be at least 10" wide. Since I was working with a 24" wide sheet, I just sliced it down the middle.
Frame making may look simple but it is a skill that escapes many. For a frame to properly do its job it has to be perfect, any mistake can be a distraction that takes away from the artwork it surrounds. This class will focus on skills essential to making square or rectangular frames. Skill building concepts will include how to break down and mill...
You're not the first person to say this! I'm half inclined to use the Lowes shed as a starting point for my own design. But I do think I'd feel better if I could work as an "aprentice" next to an "old master". Someone at work is going to put me in touch with a guy who builds sheds for a living, and apparently he's competitive with the prices @ Lowes and HD. The Lowes shed comes with a "Handman Package" that I don't want but would end up paying for, anyway. The "workbenches" were laughably flimsy.
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.
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.
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