English Style Workbench Build

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Project by Alistair posted 05-06-2014 11:56 PM 8974 views 8 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi All,

I recently finished my workbench after a several-month long build. As I can only dedicate time to my woodworking in my free time, things took a little longer than anticipated.

The bench is made from softwood from B&Q, I think the US equivalent is Lowes?

The two halves of the bench top is made from laminations of 3” x 2” lengths
The Aprons are made from three laminated 2” x 4”s
The legs are made from two laminated 2” x 4”s

Overall dimensions of the bench are:
Length: 72”
Height: 36.5”
Width: 26.5”

I have both limited shop space and budget, so I chose a design that would give a good deal of strength and rigidity relative to cost and would fit in my workshop/single garage easily.

I modelled the design around the Paul Sellers workbench but added my own tweaks here and there, drawing Inspiration from Bob Rozaieski and also Richard Maguire. Rather than having a tool well, I chose to have a reversible central insert that can either sit flush with the bench top, or be reversed to become a planing stop. So far it is working a treat and I love it.

The vice is a 9” quick release Dakota vice. I have to be honest, I was devastated that the casting was out of square, but I managed to compensate for that when fitting the vice. I then used an old Oak floorboard for the vice jaw liners. I wanted something sturdy that would last. I am not too concerned with using a wood that is harder than the work piece and this has yet to cause me any issues and I have been using the bench for a couple of weeks now.

The bench is finished using Danish Oil. I applied 3 coats with a rag, then rubbed the bench down with 0000 wire wool and then applied a fourth and final coat. It is the first time I have used Danish Oil and I am very pleased with the final feel and finish that it gives.

All in all I am happy with the workbench and now I can get cracking on completing actual woodwork projects!

I have tried to cover as many key points as possible and included the relevant pictures. But is anyone has any questions or comments, then please let me know.

All the best.


-- For more details about this project please check out my Blog:

16 comments so far

View JohnnyB's profile


106 posts in 3679 days

#1 posted 05-07-2014 04:24 AM

Nice bench. I like the style. I would not be terribly concerned about the vise. I believe that vises are made with some “toe-in” so that the upper portion of the jaws meet first and the jaws become more parallel as clamping force is applied.

-- JohnnyB - - Sometimes determination can substitute for skill.

View siavosh's profile


674 posts in 3161 days

#2 posted 05-07-2014 06:09 AM

Very nice build. Is the split mostly for holding tools, and do you find yourself having it covered most of the time?

-- -- Discover the most interesting woodworking blogs from around the world

View CarlTuesday's profile


14 posts in 2953 days

#3 posted 05-07-2014 07:11 AM

Nice bench, and similar to what I ended up with…

Although the center slot is clever. I assume you mean if you lift it out and rotate it, it sits proud of the top a bit?

Just curious if you could show how that works.

View Alistair's profile


28 posts in 2783 days

#4 posted 05-07-2014 09:15 AM

JohnnyB: Thanks for the reassurance. You are right about the “toe-in”, it just made things a little trickier when it came to installing the vice.

siavosh: The split was meant to allow for an insert as well as a bit of movement as the bench is in my garage. I have considered having a second insert that could be used for tool storage also, but that is always an addition I can make in the future.

CarlTuesday: Yes you are correct, if you lift the central piece out and rotate it then it will sit proud by approx 1”. This works as one side has notches cutout so that it will sit over the cross bearers at the top of the leg frames and the other side does not. I’lve added another photo showing the insert reversed (apologies, this was before I added the handle)

This also has the added option of allowing you to create a holding arrangement for your work pieces. With the central insert “upside down” (planing stop protruding) you can then place a piece of 4” x 1” into one of the notches that will then ensure the work piece is held in two directions. Very handy for truing up stock.

Thank you for the comments and for taking a look.

All the best


-- For more details about this project please check out my Blog:

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3944 days

#5 posted 05-07-2014 12:59 PM

That is one of the nicest looking softwood benches I have seen out there. You must have spent an hour going through the lumber pile at B&Q.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Alistair's profile


28 posts in 2783 days

#6 posted 05-07-2014 03:52 PM

Hi RGtools,

Thank you very much for your compliment. I did spend a while looking for the most straight and knot-free lengths. Now I definitely feel that it was worth it!

Thanks again.


-- For more details about this project please check out my Blog:

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 3158 days

#7 posted 05-07-2014 05:31 PM

Great bench and wonderful explanation. I’m liking the practical approach you took with this bench. The Shakers believed that anything that did not serve a purpose was therefore superfluous, prideful, and even sinful. Their legacy is furniture stock which is highly valued.

Well done!

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View Alistair's profile


28 posts in 2783 days

#8 posted 05-07-2014 07:04 PM

Thanks buckethead. Appreciate that.


-- For more details about this project please check out my Blog:

View leachim's profile


3 posts in 2770 days

#9 posted 05-07-2014 07:18 PM

I love this bench idea!!!!!!!!!!!! have you done any other projects? or got any others planned for the future?

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4875 days

#10 posted 05-07-2014 08:13 PM

Thanks for sharing ! Wow a nice big solid woodworking bench no frills but very useful and a lovely finish on your cheap wood from B and Q. LOL actually the design is very much used here in the UK I have seen many similar the bit up the middle has me slightly puzzled can you explain why you did this ? It looks great though, and if you don’t mind me saying so it reminds me of the workbenches we used at school back in the sixties although yours is much nicer looking and better made LOL Alistair P S thanks for sharing and have fun with your new bench years and years of safe fun It should last a lifetime or several lifetimes.

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Alistair's profile


28 posts in 2783 days

#11 posted 05-07-2014 08:30 PM

leachim: Thanks very much, really appreciate it. Oh yes, I think like most woodworkers I have a raft of projects for the future. I’ll be blogging about all of them and posting YouTube videos about most.

SCOTSMAN: Thank you very much. I don’t mind you comparing it to your school benches at all. It is the first bench that I have built and if it was good enough for teaching on, then it is good enough for me.

As for the central insert: I didn’t want to have a tool well as it would make the bench too wide and also give me the perfect opportunity to keep a messy bench. So after doing some research (mentioned above) I decided to have a small gap that would:
1 Allow for wood movement
2 Allow me to have a planing stop inserted in there
3 Offer tool storage options if I really wanted it to

The second point is key here. So rather than have a planing stop that has to be removed and stored whenever I am not using it, I wanted a reversible option that could either act as part of the bench top when inserted one way, or be a planing stop when inserted the other.

Hopefully this makes sense. If you want any more pictures or a more in-depth run down, feel free to PM me.

All the best.


-- For more details about this project please check out my Blog:

View kiefer's profile


5852 posts in 3957 days

#12 posted 05-07-2014 09:35 PM

Nice looking and style of bench with the aprons coming down the front and back should make it very ridged.
I built a softwood bench recently using construction 2×12 cut in half for the top and I find that it a nice wood for a bench top but will have to flatten it again in the near future as there is still some shrinking going on and I also built a leg vise to go with it again out of softwood (pine )
I like the style of your bench but wondered about the split top idea but you explained your reasons very well previously and it seems like a good approach to avoid the wood movement problem .

-- Kiefer

View Lucsdogs's profile


32 posts in 2773 days

#13 posted 05-07-2014 11:58 PM

What a nice bit of work. I’m trying to settle in on a new bench as well. I hadn’t really decided on the style and functionality but your bench has helped make up my mind. Its very similar to my grandfathers work bench. Very nice.

-- Bernie, Oshawa, Ontario

View woodcox's profile


2386 posts in 3302 days

#14 posted 05-08-2014 03:00 AM

Nice work Alistair. Cheers with the new addition to your shop.

-- "My god has more wood than your god" ... G. Carlin.

View CL810's profile


4203 posts in 4278 days

#15 posted 05-08-2014 12:45 PM

Well done!

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

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