Workbench Build #1: Stock prep and Completed Towers

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Blog entry by SPalm posted 05-14-2008 04:22 PM 4330 reads 16 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Workbench Build series Part 2: Glue up »

I started working on my workbench and was able to spend some time on it last week while my wife was in Maine. It is a combination of ideas I gained while studying others, and I am sort of making it up as I go along. I used Douglas Fir as it was easy to find, and I was able to purchase some fairly clean pieces at the Home Depot. It was quite wet when I got it, and it has been drying for several weeks now. I milled it to almost final dimension and now it is drying some more, and what I think of as ‘relaxing’. It seems like wood reacts to drastic milling, and always flexes a bit a couple of days later.

I will give the top pieces a final jointing before the big glue up. I am dreading this glue up. I have not decided if I will try to do it in sections and then either thickness sand or thickness plane as I go, or just go for it. This stuff is gosh darn heavy. Maybe I need to grow up and hand plane it.

The plan is to add a 4/4 maple front and use 8/4 walnut for the end plates (because I have some of both) before I attach the vises. Bench dog holes will be drilled after it is all together. I also have a little 8/4 maple for the vise chops.

I am trying to keep the cost under $200.


The 6 foot 4×4s for the top. Cut, jointed, and milled to thickness.


The stretchers cut with tenons. These were resawed from the 4×4s. They are waiting for holes for the draw bore tenons, and for a bit of edge treatment.


The two towers. Pretty much completed. Mortised and drilled for the stretchers. I cut the large mortises for the uprights with my CNC. That was fun. I cut the mortises for the stretchers with a hand held router, just because.


The two vises purchased from Grizzly. Can’t beat the price. I hope they work out OK.

Comments or suggestions are very welcome.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

17 comments so far

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 5169 days

#1 posted 05-14-2008 04:34 PM

” I used Douglas Fir as it was easy to find, and I was able to purchase some fairly clean pieces”, if these are fairly clear ;-) I’d like to see some clear ones you can’t find wood that good looking at any BORG close to me. Great post please keep us informed.

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

View TomK 's profile


504 posts in 5158 days

#2 posted 05-14-2008 05:15 PM

Looks great so far. I gave up trying to find Douglas Fir at anything close to a reasonable price here in Texas when I was buidling my current bench. Had to settle for SYP. Keep the photos coming.

-- If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it's free! PJ O'Rourke

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 5106 days

#3 posted 05-14-2008 05:21 PM

This is looking great so far. You will end up with a bargain once the bench is completed as if you purchased something like this it would cost far more than $200.

Keep us posted on your progress.

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

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5272 days

#4 posted 05-14-2008 05:47 PM

Great looking job so far! I’m looking forward to seeing your progress.

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

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5166 days

#5 posted 05-14-2008 05:48 PM

Hey Tom, nothing wrong with southern yellow pine. I can’t find that in Maryland. The DF was about $10 a stick for 8 footers. I am near two Home Depots, and one of them does not carry it. The sides of the pieces I selected for the top have a few knots, but the top surface sure is pretty. When I cut them down to 6 feet, I did pick the nicest section to keep.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 4987 days

#6 posted 05-14-2008 06:00 PM

Looks good! Cant wait to see it finished

Thanks for the post and keep us up to date


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5502 days

#7 posted 05-14-2008 06:11 PM

Dang it, Steve. This is looking to purdy to be a workbench!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View DavidH's profile


519 posts in 5026 days

#8 posted 05-14-2008 06:28 PM

wow, looking good. thanks for posting a blog on the build. cant wait to see the next steps.

-- David - Houston, Texas. (

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 5275 days

#9 posted 05-14-2008 07:23 PM


It looks good so far… That DF sure looks pretty good from what I can tell. What would you guess the moisture content was when you purchased it?

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5166 days

#10 posted 05-14-2008 07:40 PM

Chris, good question. These things seemed to loose a lot of weight in the couple of weeks that I had a dehumidifier aimed at them. I should of at least weighed one first.

I always wanted a moisture meter. I just checked online and it seems that you can find some for about $20. Don’t know if they work, but if it is anything like calculators, thermometers, or digital calipers, the price should drop for a cheap version.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5530 days

#11 posted 05-14-2008 08:39 PM

Good looking start, man that sucker is gonna be heavy, thats good it won’t go anywhere while you’re working on it. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View blackcherry's profile


3349 posts in 5107 days

#12 posted 05-15-2008 05:08 AM

Nice start to what looks like a killer bench and I took a look at your CNC router write up and man that just over the top… my complements…enjoy that new smoother you just recieved, I have a # 4 and its my favorite tool…any question you might have on sharpening or toubleshooting let me know…Blkcherry

View Karson's profile


35279 posts in 5684 days

#13 posted 05-15-2008 06:06 AM

That is some Select and Better Fir. Great looking stuff and a great start.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 5083 days

#14 posted 05-15-2008 06:24 AM

Splintery stuff that DougFir is. Great looking start to what should surely be a fine bench. That reminds me… I’ve got one to work on too. Geez… all these benches… so little time…


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

View kwhit190211's profile


44 posts in 5039 days

#15 posted 05-16-2008 08:41 AM

Nice!! Looks really good. I like how the fir looks. I never worked with the stuff. It looks a lot like yellow pine, which is also splintery. That’s what I made my 2 work benches out of. I didn’t buy mine, though. I’m a firm believer in using scrap wood. I visit the local construction sites. Talk to the GC (general contractor) involved. He usually gives me the ok, to scrounge in the trash box. If I am dressed properly ( hard hat, long sleeve shirt, pants & boots).
They get a lot of things delivered in crates made out of God know what kinds of wood. It’s usually some type of pine, sometimes even hardwood. Whatever it is, I take. Heck there maybe all kinds & types of wood in that box, or even laying around on the site. Just ask permission first. Usually they think, hey that’s something I don’t Have to haul to the box.

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