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This hybrid design holds work any which manner you need it to.

Good design is little greater than selective thievery. This workbench is an efficient instance of that. A mix of options from a number of historic kinds, starting from the Roubo to the Workmate, turns into a brand new type, suited to being the middle of a contemporary woodworking store.

I’ve by no means seen a workbench that I used to be totally proud of. I’ve love/hate relationships with many frequent options. I like instrument trays, however hate the way in which shavings and different detritus collects in them.

I need to have the ability to clamp work rapidly, however pace means nothing if the clamping isn’t stable and safe. Good design can be the artwork of compromise, discovering the completely satisfied medium between extremes.

This bench started with the concept of constructing a replica of an English Nicholson bench. The Nicholson was well-liked in Colonial America, and variations of it appeared in woodworking books till the 1920s. The dominant characteristic on the Nicholson is a large entrance apron, which permits work to be secured to the entrance of the bench in addition to to the highest.

The disadvantage to the prolonged apron is that it limits the power to clamp all the way down to the highest of the bench from the sting. I narrowed and lowered the apron so I might clamp work to the bench in two instructions. I used to be additionally intrigued by the knock-down joinery on a number of the historic Nicholson benches. While I don’t plan on transferring my bench fairly often, I made a decision to make it in manageable chunks, to ease the method of constructing it and assembling it.

The design relies on operate within the accomplished bench, and likewise on the method of constructing, transferring and sustaining it. The instruments I used to make it are primary home-shop gear – a 10″ hybrid desk noticed, a 6″ jointer and a 12″ “lunchbox” planer. And I didn’t want a bench to construct my bench. I made the highest first, then positioned that on a pair of horses.

Getting It Straight, One Part at a Time

A disposable paint curler appliesan even coat of yellow glue rapidly. Apply the glue to 1 aspect of the lamination solely. Doing each side wastes time and glue.

The greatest purpose for assembling the highest of the bench first is that when it’s full, it may be put to work  to manufacture and assemble all the opposite components. It’s nearly nearly as good as having a spot to take a seat down once you’re midway via constructing a chair.

I started with tough 8/Four ash lumber, and picked via my inventory for the straightest items to make use of for the highest. After working one edge over the jointer, I ripped each bit to a tough width of 3¼”. Then I dressed one face of every piece flat on the jointer. When I had 14 items prepared, I moved to the planer.

I needed the inventory to be a minimum of 1 78” thick, however stopped milling once I had two clear faces. Each half of the highest consists of six items glued head to head, and leaving the components as thick as potential allowed me to maximise the width. If the inventory had ended up thinner than deliberate, I might have added a seventh piece. The purpose was to have the halves of the highest end a minimum of 11½” vast, however lower than 12″.

The size of the bench was additionally a variable. I needed a minimal size of 84″, however I used to be capable of get clear lengths of 90″ from the 8′-long tough materials. After all of the components have been milled, I allow them to sit over a weekend to make certain the wooden wasn’t going to maneuver or warp.

I started laminating the highest boards in pairs glued head to head. To maintain them flat, I clamped them collectively on the strongest, straightest floor obtainable: an I-beam made from ¾”-thick plywood. I let every pair sit within the clamps for a minimum of 4 hours, and let all of them sit for 24 hours to permit the glue to dry.

Back to Milling, then Serious Gluing

This bench was designed round obtainable equipment. After cleansing one floor with a handplane, the other floor is planed on a conveyable machine.

I ran the sides of every glued pair over the jointer to get a straight, sq. edge on every lamination. I then ran the boards on edge via the planer. Once once more, I finished once I had two clear surfaces fairly than taking the boards to a selected thickness.

The cleaned-up pairs have been barely over my deliberate 3″ thickness, however I might nonetheless must take away some materials after gluing up every high part. How a lot to take away would depend upon how effectively these items went collectively.

I set two lengthy boards between my horses, and positioned sq. boards throughout them, a couple of foot aside. This gave me a pleasant stage floor to work on, and supplied the power to succeed in round, over or underneath the tops as I used to be setting the clamps. A test-stacking of three pairs of boards gave me the boldness to attach every half-top part in a single go.

With almost each clamp within the store standing by, I unfold yellow glue on one face of two of the components with a 3″-wide paint curler. With a good coat of glue utilized, I turned the components 90˚ and beginning tightening the clamps, working from the middle out to the ends.

Trimming the highest halves to ultimate size is throughout the capability of this 12″ sliding compound miter noticed.

Wooden handscrews throughout the ends of the glue joints prevented the components from sliding misplaced. I eliminated any glue squeeze-out with a moist rag and a scraper, and let the items sit within the clamps in a single day.

Because I had fastidiously milled the components earlier than gluing, and glued fastidiously on a flat floor, the tops have been in fine condition popping out of the clamps. I knocked down the excessive spots with a handplane to get a flat floor, and ran the assembled tops via the transportable thickness planer.

Leaving the highest halves lower than 12″ vast allowed me to make use of this small machine for surfacing. At some level sooner or later I’ll must resurface the highest, and the little planer will at all times be an possibility. This technique additionally allowed me to chop every high half to size with my sliding compound miter noticed.

The Structure Down Below


Joinery on a bench is on a special scale than joinery for furnishings. The components are bigger, and the emphasis is extra on operate and energy than look. The legs are two items glued head to head, and every pair of legs is related with an higher and a decrease stretcher with mortise-and-tenon joints.

After laying out the tenon places on the stretchers, strains are transferred to mark the matching mortises on the internal components of the legs.

The legs and stretchers are assembled into items, and the 2 ends are related with rails working the size of the bench. The giant scale of the elements made it potential to find joints for the knock-down connections within the outer halves of the legs, and these joints have been lower earlier than the legs have been laminated collectively.

In furnishings I take advantage of through-tenons to point out off, however on this bench I used them to make life simpler. The mortises are solely lower within the internal half of every leg. After laying out the joints, I eliminated many of the waste on the drill press with a ¾”-diameter Forstner bit.

Working on my new benchtops positioned on horses, I used a chisel to sq. the mortises to the structure strains. I then lower the tenons to suit the mortises. I lower many of the shoulders by hand, but in addition lower some on the desk noticed to check strategies. The hand-cut shoulders have been a bit neater, and didn’t take for much longer to make. After reducing the shoulders, I eliminated the waste across the tenons on the desk noticed, utilizing the miter gauge to information the boards throughout a stack-dado set.

A little bit of chisel work cleans up the mortises to the structure strains at high and backside. Widening the perimeters permits a better match and stronger joint with the addition of wedges.

With a shoulder aircraft and rasp, I fine-tuned the match of the joints. After tweaking a pair to an ideal match, I spotted I might make the tenons slender in width, widen the surface of the mortises with a fast chisel lower, then safe the joints from exterior with wedges.

This saved time, and gave stronger joints. With the tenons wedged, they’ll’t pull out of the mortises. After letting the glue dry, I trimmed the wedges with a flush-cutting noticed, adopted by a block aircraft.

Great Big Dovetails

I feel it’s quicker to chop the shoulders by hand and keep away from exacting setups on a machine. It’s only a matter of reducing to the strains.

It’s straightforward to consider dovetails as ornamental joints, however there are various sensible causes for utilizing this joint to carry the ends of the bench collectively. Most of the stress on a bench in use is finish to finish, and the jammed form of the rail-to-leg joints can’t be pulled aside. In reality, in the event you push the bottom of this bench from the top, the joints tighten fairly than loosen.

The dovetails additionally serve to positively find and align the components throughout ultimate meeting. As the joints come collectively, they match the place they match; it isn’t potential to place them collectively within the incorrect place.

After making the male a part of the joint, the socket is laid out immediately from the completed half. Simply lay the rail in place, line up the highest and knife within the angled line.

Both higher and decrease dovetail joints are half-lapped with the outer portion of the leg. The decrease joint is on the within of the leg and is a half dovetail; the opposite half of the joint is a detachable wedge. The higher joint is on the surface of the leg and secured by a lag bolt.

After reducing the shoulders by hand, I eliminated the waste with the stack dado on the desk noticed, and used a curler stand to assist the lengthy workpieces. The angled cuts have been made with a jigsaw.

After becoming the dovetail for the decrease rail, an identical wedge is lower and match. Thanks to engaged on solely half the leg, this course of is totally seen.

I smoothed out the waste left by the dado cutters with a chisel, shoulder aircraft and rasp, then marked the places of the sockets on the outer legs immediately from the tails. I lower the angled ends of the sockets with a backsaw, and eliminated many of the waste in between on the desk noticed.

The dovetails on the ends of the horizontal rails are half-lapped. I eliminated many of the materials with a stack dado set on the desk noticed. An adjustable curler stand helps the opposite finish of the lengthy components.

The remaining waste was eliminated with a chisel, adopted by a shoulder aircraft. Then I used a aircraft maker’s float to realize a flat backside on these joints. The higher joints have to be equal in thickness in order that the outer surfaces of the legs and rails might be flush when the bench is assembled.


Down on the decrease rail, the tail must be thinner than the socket in order that the top of the rail can simply go via the socket within the leg. The socket additionally must be vast sufficient to permit the sq. finish of the rail to enter the slender portion of the joint, then drop down into place.

Leg Detail

This requires some fussing, however as a result of the outer half of the leg is unfastened at this level, it’s straightforward to see what’s going on whereas adjusting the joint. After becoming the decrease portion of the tail, I lower and match the detachable wedges.


With the joinery full, I unfold glue on the within floor, and glued the outer legs to the beforehand assembled internal legs and stretchers, taking care to maintain the components aligned. After letting the glue dry in a single day, I used to be anxious to see the finished bench.

Screws, Wedges and the Hole Story

The legs are completely assembled by gluing. Judicious placement of glue to maintain it out of the joint, and a clamp throughout the underside to maintain the components from sliding, make the method painless.

I set the finished finish items on the ground, and inserted the 2 decrease rails into one finish, knocked within the wedges then slid the rails into the opposite finish. The higher rails have been knocked into place, and after marking the facilities of the tails, I made a ¾”-diameter counterbore deep sufficient to go away the top of a lag screw about 18” beneath the floor. Then I drilled a pilot gap and drove in a ¼” x 2″ lag screw. I set the tops in place on the assembled base, with the sides even with the surface of the legs and a constant distance in between.

I drilled 38“-diameter through holes in the upper stretchers, and ¼”-diameter pilot holes within the backside floor of the tops. Four 516” x 3 12” lag screws safe every high part to the bottom. After admiring the meeting for some time, I laid the bench on its aspect, and flushed the joints to one another.

A brief aspect journey. After assembling the rails and high halves, the bench is turned on its aspect to stage the entrance surfaces.

The entrance of the bench is mostly a working work-holding floor, so I took care to stage all of the components to be in the identical aircraft.  While I used to be at it, I used my block aircraft to carry the ends of the tails even with the sides of the legs.

Setting the bench again on its toes, I laid out the places of the vises, in addition to the ¾”-diameter holes within the high, entrance rails and entrance legs. A Veritas twin-screw vise straddles the left-front leg, and a small quick-release vise is within the tail-vise place. I routed out a recess ultimately of the benchtop for the tail vise, and glued two 2″-thick x 4¼”-wide blocks to the underside to carry the screws for the bigger, twin-screw vise.

The lag bolts that safe the higher rails are counterbored to maintain the heads effectively beneath the floor. The faces of the rails are made flush to the legs.

There is a line of holes within the high, centered on the canine location ultimately vise. I drew a line the size of the bench at this distance, then marked a gap to only miss both sides of the best hand leg. I set a pair of dividers at this distance and stepped off the center-to-center marks for this line of holes.

I carried these marks all the way down to the entrance rails utilizing a framing sq.. The holes within the decrease rail are centered vertically, and those within the higher rail alternate excessive and low, 1¾” in from the sides. The holes within the rails don’t must line up with the holes within the high, however it appeared an inexpensive spacing. It was simpler to switch the present structure than to consider a brand new one. The holes within the entrance might be used with a floor clamp, or a easy canine to assist work from beneath.

The high halves are heavy, however with the help of a stand they are often dropped at the drill press for boring the canine and holdfast holes.

On the within fringe of the highest, I marked out places for holdfast holes on 12″ facilities, 3″ in from the again edge on the entrance half. On the again half is one other row of holdfast holes, additionally on 12″ facilities. I needed these roughly in the midst of the highest, however didn’t wish to drill into the glue line, so I centered them in the midst of the board past the middle of the rear high.

There are 5 holes within the entrance jaw of the vise, lining up with the holes within the high, roughly within the heart and close to every finish of the jaw. Each of the entrance legs additionally has holes, two within the left, equally spaced between the higher and decrease rails. The holes in the best leg match, with an extra gap within the area between the higher rail and the benchtop.

Because the components of the bench are comparatively manageable elements, I took the bench aside and drilled the entire holes on the drill press utilizing a 3⁄4″-diameter brad level bit at a low pace, about 500 rpm. I used my curler stand to assist the lengthy components that hung off the drill press desk.

Where Will the Hamsters Sleep?

Between the 2 decrease rails is a shelf that’s supported by 2″-wide cleats nailed to the underside of the rails. The shelf boards are random widths of 4/Four materials, with opposing rabbets on the lengthy edges. The boards at every finish have a rabbet on just one edge, and butt in opposition to the within fringe of the decrease stretchers.

The shelf boards and cleats have been left as thick as potential, and cleats have been additionally nailed to the underside of every inside fringe of the highest sections to assist the detachable instrument trays. The trays are open-topped containers, created from ¾”-thick stable wooden. The corners are held along with easy rabbet-in-groove joints. The backside is rabbeted to slot in a ¼”-wide groove, with the face of the underside even with the underside edges of the field sides.

The instrument trays will be turned the wrong way up if desired to make all the bench, or simply parts of it, one vast flat floor. Or they are often eliminated to permit clamping to the center of the benchtop. They will also be simply carried to return instruments to their houses, or to the trash can to take away the inevitable accumulation of shavings and different trash.

I don’t imagine {that a} bench wants a high quality end. After planing all of the surfaces, I knocked off the sharp corners of the sides, and utilized a coat of Danish oil. With a number of holdfasts and holddowns, together with some F-style clamps, I can maintain work securely in nearly any place. That’s what a great bench is for. It is the instrument that makes the work of all the opposite instruments simpler and extra efficent. PWM

21st-Century Workbench Cut List

No. merchandise dimensions (inches) materials feedback


❏ 12 Top laminates 1 1516 x 3¾ x 90 Ash Mill TAP*, 6 per half

❏ 4 Inner legs 1 1516 x Three x 31 Ash Mill TAP*, 1¾” minimal

❏ 4 Outer legs 1 1516 x 3¾ x 31 Ash Mill TAP*, 1¾ minimal

❏ 4 Upper stretchers 1 1516 x 2¼ x 31 Ash Mill TAP*, 1¾” minimal

❏ 4 Lower stretchers 1 1516 x 3¼ x 31 Ash Mill TAP*, 1¾” minimal

❏ 2 Upper rails 1 1516 x 6 x 65 Ash Mill TAP*, 1¾” minimal

❏ 2 Lower rails 1 1516 x 3¾ x 72½ Ash Mill TAP*, 1¾” minimal

❏ 4 Wedges 7Eight x 1 3Eight x 8 58 Ash Mill TAP*, 1¾” minimal

❏ 4 Cleats 1 316 x 2 x 90 Ash Cut to suit between ends

❏ 8 Box sides ¾ x Three x 22 ½ Ash

❏ 8 Box ends ¾ x Three x 6 ¾ Ash

❏ 4 Box bottoms ¾ x 6 ¾ x 20 ½ Ash

❏ 1 Shelf ¾ x 22 3Eight x 58 Ash Random width shiplapped boards

❏ 1 Face vise blocks 2 x 4 ¼ x 30 Ash Total length, trim for both sides of leg

❏ 1 Face vise chop 2 ¼ x 7¼ x 30 Ash Laminated from Three items

❏ 1 Tail vise chop 1 ½ x Three x 11 58 Ash

*TAP=Thick as potential

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