Projects #8: John White FWW Workbench - Finished Top

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Blog entry by Jeff posted 08-09-2007 06:45 AM 10919 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: John White FWW Workbench - Clamping/Accessory Well Part 8 of Projects series Part 9: John White FWW Workbench - Miscellaneous Tasks »

I have an update on the bench. The top is completed and I’m nearing the home stretch. I’m already starting to come up with ideas for special uses/jigs for the inserts in the well…

I measured and drilled the holes for the end supports of the well and then threaded my pipe stock and checked for level. I also cut the blocks that are moved when you need to adjust the lateral clamps and positioned them above each leg and the center support. I laid in the MDF panels to make sure everything was more or less flush. So far so good.

end support of well - detail

well with MDF panels dropped in

Better shot showing the panels flush with the rest of the bench top.
panels flush with rest of top

Next, it was time to check the hole alignment for the face clamps. Things were still going well.
face clamp installed

Since everything was ok with the major elements of the well, it was now time to measure all the pipe, cut it to length with a hack saw and smooth up the ends on the grinder. I put a 45deg chamfer on the edge of all the cut ends. Getting the length right was just a matter of installing the clamp heads, extending the clamping screws all the way and adding an inch for good measure. I think this came out to a 3 1/2 extension (total length of approx. 75”) past the bar support at the end of the well for the lateral bars and a length of around 28 inches for the face clamp bars.
clamp heads installed on the lateral bars

It was then back to the drill press to drill all the finger holes in the MDF inserts. 1” holes were drilled 1 1/2” on center from each end of the insert. Easy enough with the fence set. The holes for the ends of the planing beam were drilled at this time as well since it was the same bit that was chucked up. The last step was to cut the slots in the ends of the planing beam so it can easily be moved on and off the vertical clamp bars in front of each leg. This was done on the band saw.

And here is where the bench stands to this point.
bench with MDF panels and planing beam installed

Next entry will be finishing the face clamps, the clamping blocks for the well, and the support for the planing beam.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

8 comments so far

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4074 posts in 5344 days

#1 posted 08-09-2007 07:08 AM

Really looking good!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 5375 days

#2 posted 08-09-2007 07:15 AM

Thanks Douglas. I’m pretty proud of it. I moved it in front of the table saw and I’m already getting use out of it as an infeed table and usable work space. It’s a very welcome addition to my shop. Time to start planning the storage cabinet to go under it.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 5278 days

#3 posted 08-09-2007 09:57 AM

This is really coming together – fun to watch your progress on it.

How are the inserts supported? From what I can see see they sit on top of the long pipes… Are there cleats too? If not, do they flex downward in the center at all?

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1823 posts in 5367 days

#4 posted 08-09-2007 10:59 AM

Wow….much nicer than the original! Not just great functionality but looks like fine furniture. Now I really want to do it. Any more ideas on portability? I’m considering pouring a level slab under my awning and it would be awesome to be able to setup a nice bench.

-- Bob

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 5375 days

#5 posted 08-09-2007 02:24 PM

Good question Dorje. I was always thinking that might be an issue when I was building it. The MDF inserts do rest on the pipe. The pipes are in turn supported by the “spinners” as I call them. These are necessary additional support surfaces for the pipes and it’s a snug fit between them and the leg assemblies. The MDF is a rigid material and most of the inserts (except the long one at the left end) are 8” or less in width. The combination of these things eliminate the flex.

Bob – Thanks for the compliment. I still haven’t gotten back to you on that portability thing, have I? I think the best way for me to show what I’m envisioning is to modify my sketchup file.

Let me ask you this. When you say portable, what do you mean exactly? For the season or on a regular basis? I think your slab idea is great. Heck you wouldn’t even have to do a slab, you could just build a mini deck and it would likely be easier on your back. The downside would be time, material, and durability though if you went that route I guess.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5243 days

#6 posted 08-09-2007 03:42 PM

Jeff, It’s an interesting bench but I think I’m a little behind on how it all works. Are there some other blogs which cover this? The workmanship is very good.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 5375 days

#7 posted 08-09-2007 05:33 PM

Thanks, Thos. Yes, there are other entries in my blog and here is the link to my first post in the series:

Enjoy and thanks for the interest.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1823 posts in 5367 days

#8 posted 08-09-2007 11:51 PM

I’m thinking 3 main pieces (sides and top) that could be assembled in 5 mins or so. Add the stretcher, the front clamps, and carriage bolt it all together.

I like the idea that it would be something I could use now and when (someday) I build a bigger shop it will still be a great permanent bench.

-- Bob

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