the humble house workshop #2: Every shop needs a bench (please don,t laugh)

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Blog entry by kiwi1969 posted 05-06-2009 11:32 AM 1850 reads 3 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Very very humble beginnings Part 2 of the humble house workshop series Part 3: Budget workbench needs all the help it can get »

So in the first of this series I mentioned i,m starting an enterprise with no money, hardware store hand tools and a sheet of 3/4 in plywood. This is what happened to the plywood. Now like many on this site i,ve long dreamed of building my ultimate workbench and I must tell you in advance that this is not it! This is my answer to that chicken and egg argument about needing to build a bench so that you can then build a bench. Its taken directly from Shopnotes and haveing seen numerous 1 sheet of ply bench ideas this seemed to be the best. If anyone has ever thought of attempting too break down a sheet of 8×4 ply with a handsaw I must tell you now that it is not a pleasant experience and I decided not document this part of the procedure with photo,s as i,m sure nobody wants to see a pasty white man sweating proffusly in the tropical heat wrestling with a cheap sheet of ply and an even cheaper hand saw. Once that struggle was over, and after I recovered with the aid of a very strong coffee, I then had to create some dado,s using a straight edge, a tenon saw and chisel as well as trying out my stanley knockoff rebate plane.
This operation was not as painfull as I expected and I was surprised how quickly it was done. The base was simply assembled with glue and screws and I cleaned it up as best I could with a #5 jack and rounded all the edges with a block plane.
The uprights come together next by hinging the left side directly to the base and the right leg onto a 3/4 in cleat to allow both uprights to lie flat when packed and the support rails are then joined to these using bed rail brackets. These aren,t the same brackets as used in the original design, which are mounted on the ends of the rail,s but they work just as well. You can also see some of the tools used including a Stanley cordless drill and a screwdriver that never needs recharging.
The top is next. It is double thickness around the edges, the strips creating pockets that locate the top.
Using a cheap cordless jigsaw I then cut slots that will allow clamps to be used like holdfasts. There should also be dog holes but I don,t own any drill bits larger than 1/4 inch so they will have to come later.
This is the completed bench assembled and ready for use. It only measures 32in long. 22in wide and 33in high, so I won,t be making armoirs on it any time soon, but it fulfilled it design brief which was to be cheap, portable and solid enough to get the job done.
Flat packed it can be tucked away under a bed or against a wall without taking up precious space which is important here as I live in a town house so any bench large and immovable is not an option (so a Roubo is out of the question). The catches for closeing it will be fitted another day. If I had the budget I think I would have made two so they can be placed end to end or side by side for larger projects but for now this will do just fine. Total cost of this project worked out at around $22 US.
When I no longer have a use for it maybe I could turn it into a sandbox!

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

8 comments so far

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 5413 days

#1 posted 05-06-2009 01:09 PM

Cool design and nicely done with your cordless tools. At least you didn’t have to start with an axe and a tree!

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View PG_Zac's profile


373 posts in 4888 days

#2 posted 05-06-2009 03:13 PM

Very cool Kiwi.

This looks like an excellent interim solution.

-- I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other.

View woodworm's profile


14477 posts in 5090 days

#3 posted 05-06-2009 03:24 PM

Great effort. Nicely built bench!
One good thing about handtools is, you can work any time your want even while your neighbours are sleeping.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2659 posts in 5026 days

#4 posted 05-06-2009 04:37 PM

A nice design and did this with those tools and no power cords? Wow amazing

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View PurpLev's profile


8654 posts in 5148 days

#5 posted 05-06-2009 05:12 PM

Impressive! cool design. looks very handy.

and thank you for sparing us with the photos of taking down that sheet of ply ;o)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View JohnVV's profile


22 posts in 4923 days

#6 posted 05-06-2009 05:29 PM

I need something like this around the apartment. Thanks for the photos and for the photos you left out!

-- -- John, Washington, DC

View Derek Lyons's profile

Derek Lyons

584 posts in 5067 days

#7 posted 05-06-2009 05:31 PM

Nicely done!

-- Derek, Bremerton WA --

View a1Jim's profile


118334 posts in 5076 days

#8 posted 05-06-2009 05:44 PM

A bench like this to me is more wonderful than the greatest furniture. You wanted to make it so bad you would have used a hatchet. You have the passion and you will have many great projects to come. Those of use with many bells and whistles should take note what a real woodworker can do with very little equipment
and be grateful for what we have. Thanks so very much for sharing this wonderful inspiring work of art.
That’s one little cuttie you have there.


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