My Ultimate Workbench Build #1: Getting started...

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Blog entry by RS Woodworks posted 06-30-2011 06:26 AM 6096 reads 1 time favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of My Ultimate Workbench Build series Part 2: Baby got legs!!! »

This workbench project, for me, has been a long time coming. Well, long as in a couple of years anyways. It kinda began when I finally realized that the piece of plywood on two saw horses wasn’t quite cutting it as a woodworking bench. The mdf top on two collapsible metal legs wasn’t much better, and althought its been my main work, assembly, and glue up table for the past two years, the granite top of my table saw is far from an ideal workbench either.
So, slowly, I began accumilating some knowledge and materials, along with a pile of good intention, in my quest towards finally building myself a decent bench. I have decided (mostly) on what materials I will be using. I have decided (I think) on dimensions and overall design. And I have decided (partially) on what vises and holding abilities my bench will have. All this decision making is pretty typical of my woodworking. I plan and design a whole bunch before I get started, then, as I start, things change and get modified as I go. But for me, thats half the fun of it!

Unfortunately, I don;t have a fancy google sketchup picture to show you of what I want my bench to look like. I don’t even have a hand drawn sketch of all my final ideas. Just some really rough sketches of a design that I have since changed. No, most of this project is in my head. But don’t worry, I know how to access it any time I want, which lately has been often. And thats why it is finally time to get started on this thing.

I will show you a ton of pictures, of that I promise. But for now, if you’ll bear with me, I’m gonna go off the top of my head to describe to you some of the features my bench will have. As this blog progresses, I will discuss in more detail why i chose some of the features I did.

This bench is truely going to be built to suit me, and I honestly believe in doing it this way because using these dimensions just works. The bench will be as long as I am tall, 6’0 (minus a hair). This also happens to be a persons reach from fingertip to finger tip with arms straight out. The bench will be as wide as my arm is long, 28” from armpit to fingertip with my arm straight out. Why build a bench that I can’t reach across? And this bench will be as high as my table saw…. for no other reason than thats the height that I’ve found to be very comfortable to work at for pretty much everything over the past few years. Thats 35”, and if I go off the body measurements, thats as long as my… oh nevermind. :D

I decided some time ago that I’m going to make this bench look as nice as I can, for as reasonable a cost as I can. I want solid hardwoods, and I want some nice contrasting woods. I decided on maple and walnut, mostly. I say mostly because while I bought the maple exclusively for this bench top, I also have some other woods that I’ve gathered over the last few years that I told my wife would be used on the work bench. So I kinda have to use them, but thats ok, cause some of it is nice. Oak will definitely be present, but not in the top. The top will be just maple and walnut, 3” thick.

Design and holdfasts:

I won’t get too much into all the design elements yet, but for a rough idea, picture a French Roubo style bench, with the leg vise, and then add a Veritas Twin Screw Vise to the right side instead of a tail vise. Picture two rows of dog holes in the top, a sliding deadman on the front, and a bank of drawers underneath. On the back side, there will be space to hang my clamps, a place to hang a few hand saws on one side, and a few other storage considerations for bench accessories such as dogs and hold downs. The drawers on the right will house my commonly used bench tools: chisels (3 sets), hand planes, marking and measuring tools, ect. The drawers on the left will be much bigger and deeper, and will be a place to store smaller clamps, small exotic wood offcuts, and maybe some other goodies.

Well, thats all I’m gonna give ya in my first (ever!) blog entry. Stay tuned for my next one, in which I’ll show you the beat up old barn beams that I’m gonna use for legs on this beast. Thanks for looking, and please let me know what you think and as always, feel free to ask me questions!


-- I restore the finest vintage tools! If you need a nice plane, saw, marking tool or brace, please let me know!

1 comment so far

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2816 posts in 3804 days

#1 posted 06-30-2011 06:42 AM

from the description you give, I look forward to seeing the finished result!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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