Workbench 101

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Blog entry by PanamaJack posted 02-05-2008 09:22 PM 26661 reads 11 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Over the past several years I have been needing and wanting to buy or maybe just make a workbench. I have gone to five woodworking shows in three states over the past two years. At these shows and in several magazines or catalogs I have noticed many of these really nice woodworking benches that are way far out of my reach as far as the $$$ involved. Finally after a elongated sick spell lasting nearly two months I finally get few boards together, screws, a very few nails and other items that I have been collecting for who knows how long and got the nerve to build myself a workbench. I needed something to be able to spread tools out on and to be able to work on…something, anything. I started this project inside a breezeway where I have a “summer kitchen”, so I had to make it portable. So that it can be moved out into the garage when the weather permits.

I went to the nearby Lowe’s, where they really don’t know…and got about $35 worth of 2x’s (not really that much these days). I had in a scrap pile a sheet of 1/4” tempered hardboard. The hardboard as you will see is to be used as a replaceable top once it gets scratched or cut too many times. I had purchased a door from the Indianapolis Habitat for Humanity Warehouse last year. (I go to Habitat for Humanity at least once a month!) I purchased an old woodworking vice at a flea market in Brown County Indiana last year. That is about all I had collected over the last year in anticipation of this my new workbench.


The solid core door from Habitat for Humanity was purchased last October for the sum of $12. Even the hole predrilled for the door handle will turn into a holder for pencils once I get done. Using one of those plastic frozen juice cans.


The quick release woodworking vice was purchased for $25. That’s all I could get him down to. It is a 4×7 Richards-Wilcox vice made in Aurora Illinois. It seems very old. From what I find on the internet it may be about 100 years old(?). The company is still in business, but not making woodworking vices. I had to make the handle. It needed a 7/8” handle diameter and all I had was a 1” dowel so I took to it with a cabinet scraper and got it down to the right dimension. Drilled a 3/8” hole in either side and put a 3/8” dowel plug and glued a cabinet knob, after drilling them also, on each end. Besides the handle I had to wire brush off some rust, tap the holes and attach new plywood to the jaws.


These are the holes drilled into the solid core door. First I drilled 6 holes with a 1” Forstner bit about 1/2 inch deep to sink the head of the bolt. Then I continued down into the door/2×6’s with a 1/4” bit for the 5/16” lag screw. This removable “lid” made the possibility of moving the workbench from it’s current place out into the garage when it gets a bit warmer and maybe back again this fall, possible. Again a sheet of 1/4 inch hardboard will cover the door.


After about 4 hours it looked like this. The door bolted with 6 lag bolts to the 2×6 frame. The frame for the bottom shelf is made of 2×4’s. I used all-weather screws to put this whole thing together. Cost of lag bolts, small trim nails and screws would be about $5.


Here’s my “new” vice installed. In this picture you will noticed the 1/4 hardboard laid out on top of the door. No trim around the outside edge of the door yet.


I now have the vice installed in it’s location and have the trim abound the outside edge of the door. The solid core birch door was coated with two coats of polyurethane when I purchased it. So I simply got some good double sided carpet tape attached it to the door to hold the hardboard flat. When I need to replace the hardboard all I have to do is pry up the hardboard. The slick finish on the hardboard and door makes it a relatively easy thing to do.


As you can see I have the over-hang hung over enough to accommodate my Jet and Bessey clamps all the way around the edge. A closer view of the scrap trim around the door also. I routed the corners of the trim so I wouldn’t stick it into my leg while working around the bench. The bench is 34” tall. The trim cost would be about $7.


Here’s the bottom shelf installed. Call the price on this damaged piece of 5/8” ply about $10(?).


The new plywood and handle on the vice. The vice works really well now…...


I added this 48”long, 12 outlet, Surge Protected power strip just this morning. (Surge Protected up to 400 Joules) The power strip cost me $30.


I added this Yesterday. This is a KREG Universal Bench Klamp, if you haven’t seen one. (I got it from Woodcraft ) I like it so much that I will be adding another to the far corner as soon as it gets here. This is a very, very handy item to have. This little “set” is priced at$35, so times two equals $70.

This makes the total cost of my customized workbench to be near the $160 bracket.

Lest I forget, which I did, I have four (4) bench dogs and have yet to drill holes for them. This cost is about $35 for all four dogs. I will be placing them on the oposite side of the Kreg Klamps. I think about 3-1/2” apart(?) can anyone tell me? Now the cost is about $195 +/-.

Don’t mind saying so, but I think it turned out pretty good for an old novice such as myself.

-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)

25 comments so far

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 4874 days

#1 posted 02-05-2008 09:28 PM

Looks pretty solid! Nice job!

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5067 days

#2 posted 02-05-2008 09:33 PM

Pretty cool bench. Looks like it will get the job done for sure.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 4877 days

#3 posted 02-05-2008 10:17 PM

Nice work, that’s a gitter-done bench, a purpose built puppy for sure. Way to go. What’s next?


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View pat sherman's profile

pat sherman

625 posts in 5450 days

#4 posted 02-06-2008 01:29 AM

nice bench. wish we had a warehouse from humintiy around here.

have been looking for an old vise like that for years. is a nice one. nice bench also.

-- pat,ohio...

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4900 days

#5 posted 02-06-2008 02:03 AM

This is a nice addition to your shop. We all need someplace on which to work. This one looks real solid.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Bob N's profile

Bob N

131 posts in 5006 days

#6 posted 02-06-2008 02:23 AM

Well…it’s super sturdy, it’s heavy, it’s functional and it even looks good.

I like it! I am curious on your choice of placement of the vice. Very interesting location and varies from the norm.

Great job and thanks for sharing it.

View Pete Santos's profile

Pete Santos

172 posts in 5087 days

#7 posted 02-06-2008 07:53 AM

Cool beans, a workbench is also on my “to do list” of projects (there’s about 100 items on that list).
Thanks for sharing it. It gives me some super ideas. I’m definitely going to add the Kreg clamp on mine.

I also regularly visit the habitat store and have made some awesome purchases there too.

-- Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position, or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service, and love.

View RickL's profile


253 posts in 5019 days

#8 posted 02-06-2008 12:14 PM

PJack, turned out better than just pretty good, turned out great, good job!

-- Rick, Union,KY

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 5130 days

#9 posted 02-06-2008 03:26 PM

Very nice setup and a great price. In all of your travels you have probibly never seen a bench at that price.

-- Hope Never fails

View Brian Wohn's profile

Brian Wohn

97 posts in 5142 days

#10 posted 02-06-2008 04:56 PM

Looks great! I added the Kreg Klamps too – love them!

-- Brian, Pelham, AL

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4953 days

#11 posted 02-06-2008 06:22 PM

It’s perfect! It’s essentially how I made my bench too. You’ve got some great features, though, with the clamp holder and the power strip.

-- Happy woodworking!

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4964 days

#12 posted 02-06-2008 06:39 PM


-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4073 posts in 5142 days

#13 posted 02-06-2008 06:47 PM

PJ, that’s a beauty. And the price is right.

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

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5176 days

#14 posted 02-06-2008 08:42 PM

Well done. Looking for some projects built on it now…

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Aubster's profile


132 posts in 5107 days

#15 posted 02-06-2008 10:12 PM

Looks kinda like work bench but better built. I have inspired me to re do my bench. Thanks for posting this, you did a really good job.


-- A man who moves mountains starts one stone at a time.

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