My Small Workbench

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Blog entry by HappyHowie posted 01-10-2016 06:26 PM 1817 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch

In early 2013 I was exploring what hobby I would enjoy during my retirement.


Model RC planes and computer games like PS3, XBox were studied some. Then I recalled how much I enjoyed working as a carpenter for my Uncle Henry when I was a teenager. He hired many of his nephews, my cousins during our summer breaks from high school. It was fun and very satisfying because you could see at the end of each day what you had accomplished. It brought a lot of great job satisfaction, everyday…


What were my first steps in woodworking? I bought an inexpensive contractor saw, a Porter Cable. I wanted to test to see if my health and interest could be sustained. I found resources that would help me. I built a few jigs for the table saw and a couple of shop tables then twin tower bookcases and towers for DVD storage that were copies of DVD towers I had bought a few years before.

One of the first items I built for my shop was a takedown assembly table and a workbench plan from Woodsmith that as I built it I decided to leave the benchtop a bit larger than the plan specified so I could add a vise. After I finished it I added dog holes. As I did that I realized I was not really experienced enough to know where they should be positioned. That was not such a terrible setback. If I made a new benchtop I most likely would not drill dog holes. I would instead use bench hooks to accomplish my tasks in holding and planing, cutting my boards or panels.

Woodsmith Multi-purpose Shop Cart

Recently I cleaned the surface of this small workbench by using my belt sander and hand plane. I actually got serious enough to use one of my long metal rules to check the surface for being flat. Using my WoodRiver #6 I set it for a nicel aggressive cut. My benchtop was made from 2 by 4s so it is Douglas Fir, or a pine at least.

Can you see the red crayon marks on the benchtop? This is the area that needs to be flattened.


I have current plans to build a mini-bench. This is a Steve Latta design. I bought his plan on Fine Woodworking’s web site during its sales for the Holidays last month. I believe using this mini-bench clamped to the top of my small workbench will help me avoid back aches from leaning over too far when working closely to things on my the bench. This project will be the first thing I build in 2016.


Watch a short video clip introduced by former Fine Woodworking editor Ed Pirnik about Steve Lata’s mini-bench.
Steve Latta's mini-bench...

I have planned out several projects to start in my shop. To determine how much rough sawn lumber I need for these projects I did an inventory of the leftover lumber and sheet goods I have in my lumber racks and sheet storage. I did not count or measure the small stuff I have accumulated; just the big stuff that is still useful for building projects.

I have thought about replacing the benchtop, but after cleaning and flatting the current top I will most likely postpone that activity. I have furniture to build. I would rather spend my time doing that.

New projects planned are these:

1. A new Walnut Nightstand that will be a companion to the one I built last year about this time of year for my daughter Jennifer, my Jenny.

This photo shows both the walnut nightstand and the eight drawer dresser that I will be making additional pieces for early this year.

2. I build an eight drawer dresser last year for my granddaughter Kayln. This time I will add to her bedroom set by building a Mirror Frame to place on the dresser and two Nightstands that can be placed on both sides of her bed. The dresser and these new items will be a matched set from plans I purchased from They are made mostly form maple with cherry drawer fronts.

3. I am also committed to build a writing table for my granddaughter Torrence. I showed her some plans and also some images of tables found on the internet. She choose a traditional table that is made from compressed wood materials in Malaysia. From the photograph and the general dimensions given on the sale site I will attempt designing her table in Sketch Up on my personal computer. Torr has asked for it to be made with walnut, of course.

An internet photo of the Writing Desk Torrence wants me to build.

4. Tomorrow on my trip to the hardwood store, I will be buying 8/4 cherry to make my copy of the mini-Bench based on Steve Latta’s design.

I have lumber in my storage racks for all of Kayln’s projects, most of the walnut for my Jenny’s nightstand and plenty of cherry except for the 8/4 needed for the mini-bench. After I design the writing table, I will make another trip to MacBeaths Hardwood for its walnut requirements.

I have estimated my hardwood needs for tomorrow. I need only 10 board feet of 4/4 walnut. I have plenty of 6/4 for the nightstand’s legs on hand. For the mini-bench I will purchase about 8 board feet of 8/4 cherry for its benchtop that will measure about 9 inches wide by 42 inches long. In addition to the hardwood, I need 3/4 inch by 48 inches by 48 inches of maple plywood. I have a sheet of that size already in my shop. It is made with an MDF core. If the store does not have a half sheet of maple plywood to sell or a 60 by 60 inch sheet, I will purchase a full sheet of 3/4 inch 4’ by 8’ maple plywood. This plywood is needed for the two nightstands I will be making for Kayln. the nightstand’s top is not made with the plywood; those are hardwood panels.

-- --- Happy Howie

1 comment so far

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 3384 days

#1 posted 01-11-2016 12:14 AM

Busy man Howie ! Some nice work and a lot of work planed, keep on having fun !

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

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