Workbench #1: Getting ready to build my first workbench

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Blog entry by Dan Wolfgang posted 12-01-2016 01:55 AM 1673 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I’m very excited to say I’m going to build a workbench in the near future.

Last week, I decided to start on a necklace rack for my wife. I have a piece of cherry that I could resaw and use to make a panel for it and I thought it’d look great. But, that piece of cherry has quite a bit of twist to it I would need to plane out. No problem, but… sigh. I really, really enjoy using my (small but growing) collection of hand planes, but really don’t have a good surface to work on.

Over the past year while exploring woodworking I’ve been working on an old dining table (which racks horribly) and a much higher (40”?) wall-mounted workbench that is stable but is very high. I have a vice on the high bench but the QR nut doesn’t hold well and a bump causes it to release. Gah. I’m doing this woodworking stuff so very wrong. I need a good bench. Need.

I’ve looked at building a bench a few times over the past year. I like the Benchrafted split-top roubo design a lot, but don’t feel I have the skill to execute on it yet, and I’m concerned about spending that much money on quality wood only to screw it up or run into trouble I’m just not able to resolve. But I can’t be blocked any more!

In an effort to get moving I decided to make some sacrifice: I sorted through a pile of “burrill” 2×4s at HD to start a collection for the bench. They’re sitting in the basement, stickered, and drying out. I will add to the collection on successive visits to HD. I’m thinking I can start on the bench over Christmas vacation; drying for a month should help ensure stable(-r) wood… I hope. And I asked for the Benchcrafted split top roubo plans for Christmas. While I won’t be building exactly as the plans show, I think they’ll be a great starting point and a good hand-holding for me to understand what to do.

7 comments so far

View kocgolf's profile


402 posts in 2778 days

#1 posted 12-01-2016 04:00 AM

I’d love to watch this build. I have several “surfaces” in my newly built shop, but haven’t done the hand tool bench yet. I’ve come to peace with doing it this winter as a laminated MDF and plywood surface because I have an old desk to mount it, leftover sheet goods, and no large jointer to do proper long solid wood on, even 2×4s. I hope it serves me a few years and then on to the Roubo someday, fingers crossed. I’m excited to see how you execute those plans using your own “found” wood! Good luck!

View ralbuck's profile


6305 posts in 2866 days

#2 posted 12-01-2016 05:25 AM

A. DO NOT let some one else’s ideas control what will work for you.

B. Be aware that you will want to change some things after it is built. Make it so that can happen too, if needed.

C. Leave leg room for using a chair/stool or what works for you; as Father Time catches us we want to work from more comfortable positions!

D. Your space/bench—make it fit YOU!

E. Take the number of electrical connections that you think you want and multiply times FOUR! Do the wiring as HEAVY DUTY plugins attached to the bench along the front—always accessible.

F. It is easy to under-build for durability make sure that is as sturdy as you will need it.

I am accused of over-building; but, my stuff takes the beating I throw at it. Do not worry about what anyone else thinks! BUILD to suit YOU!

We will want to see the pictures.

GOOD LUCK! Happy sawdusting!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View bhuvi's profile


97 posts in 1142 days

#3 posted 12-01-2016 01:46 PM

-- Do NOT click links. Spammer in the process of being removed.

View NormG's profile


6497 posts in 3604 days

#4 posted 12-02-2016 12:58 AM

Have a great time and keep us updated

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1248 days

#5 posted 12-03-2016 04:17 PM

Dan – I second everything ralbuck says … except the electrical connections part (LOL!) ... have fun, build YOUR bench and YES … show us pictures. Godspeed!

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1248 days

#6 posted 12-03-2016 04:19 PM

Dan – I second everything ralbuck says … except the electrical connections part (LOL!) ... have fun, build YOUR bench and YES … show us pictures. Godspeed!

Not sure how I got two posts (???) ... hmmm.

View Dan Wolfgang's profile

Dan Wolfgang

176 posts in 1408 days

#7 posted 12-05-2016 04:45 PM

Thanks for the feedback and encouragement, guys. Two years ago I remedied the electrical challenges, adding 20-some outlets on two breakers and something like 16 lights. It took the basement from a dark and relatively useless area to somewhere I can enjoy going and do things like, well, learn about woodworking!

That said, I’m with Ron that hand tools are where it’s at!

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