My 'Lucky' Workbench with Shopmade Accessories

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Project by stefang posted 06-25-2014 08:00 PM 6219 views 22 times favorited 40 comments Add to Favorites Watch
My 'Lucky' Workbench with Shopmade Accessories
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I’ve been wanting to replace the Sjoeberg bench I bought about 30 years ago for some time now. It was a cabinet makers bench, but quite small and not steady enough for hand planing. I did find a way to fasten it against the wall to prevent racking, and that worked well, but it was still very narrow with a working surface of only 10” wide with a tool tray running along the back. The bench was way to small for me and the tool tray was very useful for collecting detris and sawdust, but nothing else. I will be taking this bench to my son in Sweden, so I’ll still be using it occasionally when we are visiting him there. Here’s a photo of it.

A new workbench the easy way.
There is a thrift type store in our little town run by some of our local church members. They sell mainly furniture and it is a pretty sizeable store too. My wife and I have donated a lot of stuff there over the years, but we had never actually looked through the store. Curiosity finally got us to stop by one day to have a look.

We were pretty amazed at the range and quality of used furniture they had, mostly donated from estates. Even the upholstered goods looked fresh and new and there were lots of cabinets, dining room furniture and occasional tables too, all in very good condition.

While making the rounds we found a beautiful old trestle table probably new in 1980. It seemed extremely solid and heavily built. I got the notion that it would make a fine woodworking bench with very little effort, so I bought it for about $100 including free delivery. I stored it in my garage for a couple of months and I forgot to take a photo of it before I chopped off about 6” from each end, but here it is after the chop job.

Bench Accessories
I finally got free from yard work long enough to get it into the shop. Here’s the base in place. The legs are 3” thick and the top is held with 4 lag bolts. Before mounting the top I put it upside down on the base to mount two new 9” quick release vises. They are Record clones, probably from China. I bought them from Axminster tools in the UK. I like them a lot. I raised the bench height to about 34-1/2” with laminated fir risers at each end which I glued onto the top of the leg pieces.

Next I hand planed the top. Pretty easy since its pine, and knot free too. After that I drilled dog holes in the bench top and also on the wooden vise jaws I installed. I use white oak for the dogs. Long ones from top to bottom on the vises jaws and 2” long for the ones in the top. They are just a friction fit for the time being.

I put the holes in line with the vise jaw dogs to get the one row close to front edge of the bench. I have to use bridges when I use the vise’s own dogs as shown below.

The row of holes nearest the wall are intended for holdfasts and/or clamps. My Bosch sliding mite saw has a great little quick release clamp that fits into my benches 3/4” dog holes, another stroke of luck.

I also wanted to be able to plane stuff like cabinet doors and large panels, so this worked out pretty good too.

Then I decided I wanted a bench jack to work the edges of doors and large panels. This jack is locked onto the bench in any one of the dog holes running along the front edge.

I also needed two anti vise racking spacers, one for each vise. I found a nice idea for this one from PaBull’s project post here Thanks for sharing PaBull!

I needed a good way to plane thin stock both edgewise and also the faces. I got this idea from ‘The Workbench Book’ by Scott Landis. I bought the book just for an interesting read quite a few years ago, and I have been enjoying it since. Here is the jig:

this wedge jig works really well. I love it already. I will probably make two more of them, one thicker for larger stock and a thinner one for ultra thin workpieces. If you decide to make one of these holding jigs, make sure you put a hook on the end of the wedge like I did, That way you can just bang the end of the workpiece and it tightens the wedge at the same time.

My last jig is this simple bench hook.

Accessory Storage
All of these accessories wouldn’t be very useful if they weren’t close at hand when needed, but out of the way when not in use, so I put strings through the holes in the smaller jigs and just hung on screws at the ends of the bench. The bench jack is also stored next to the end vise where I drilled an extra hole in the bench top so it could be locked in place for storage. There is also a small box in one of the drawers to hold the bench dogs when they’re not in use.

Lastly, I was able to use the drawers and carcase from my old bench. I will probably make some nicer ones when I get around to it. The overall dimensions of the bench top is 2” thick, 33” wide and 67” long. It doesn’t move at all while hand planing or any other type of work. That is mainly due to the very robust base, but the thick top is very heavy too and probably lends some extra stability.

This bench has really boosted my enthusiasm. I know it’s not beautiful like so many of the fantastic workbenches posted on LJ and the top is soft wood, but I’m over the moon about it because of the many holding options it gives me for using my hand tools.

Any comments positive or negative are welcomed. I hope you like it and thanks for having a look.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

40 comments so far

View GrandpaLen's profile


1652 posts in 3518 days

#1 posted 06-25-2014 08:30 PM

Great work re-purposing that Table.

You made a fine Bench with it, and your son is the beneficiary of an experienced and well trained bench.

Best Regards. – Len
Work Safely and have fun

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1381 posts in 2959 days

#2 posted 06-25-2014 08:33 PM

Looks Great. Impressive what you can get out of a 80’ies pine table!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View Dutchy's profile (online now)


4194 posts in 3414 days

#3 posted 06-25-2014 08:40 PM

To me it looks a sturdy bench. I hope the softer pine (the old one was beech i think) will useble for you. Your son will be also happy with the old Sjoeberg one.
From tiime to time I buy also solid wood furniture from recicle stores. Mostly that is cheaper then buy it at a woodstore,
But how is your garden Steve?

I like your benche and hope you will have a lot of profit/enjoyment of it.


View TopamaxSurvivor's profile (online now)


22421 posts in 4921 days

#4 posted 06-25-2014 08:41 PM

Awesome rebuild Mike!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View johnhutchinson's profile


1243 posts in 2874 days

#5 posted 06-25-2014 08:52 PM

Beautiful work, Mike !!! I’m still waiting for the adoption papers to show up. You can always use another son. :)

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View Schwieb's profile


1921 posts in 4706 days

#6 posted 06-25-2014 08:54 PM

Mike I think this is resourceful and fine work in repurposing and existing product for a better use. I love it. The problem I would have with such a large flat surface is that it becomes a magnet for things to lay on it.

Good work my friend.


-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4579 days

#7 posted 06-25-2014 09:02 PM

Thanks for the positive responses Len, KB, Dutchy, Bob, John and Ken.

Dutchy The garden looks super thanks mostly to my wife.

John I’m always ready to adopt a woodworker.

Ken My old bench was really hard to keep clean. A couple of tools and a small piece of wood pretty much filled the top and the tool rest was always filled with junk that made it difficult to clean. I’m doing pretty good with this one so far. Everything on the bench is in sight, so I just put away the tools and scraps and brush off the top. Easy peasy.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View tyvekboy's profile


2132 posts in 4258 days

#8 posted 06-25-2014 09:03 PM

Nice reuse of a piece of furniture.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View johnhutchinson's profile


1243 posts in 2874 days

#9 posted 06-25-2014 09:30 PM

Mike Be careful what you wish for. :)

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26798 posts in 4351 days

#10 posted 06-25-2014 10:33 PM

Very nice, Mike. Well thought out, too. I love it!!!!!!!!...................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 3114 days

#11 posted 06-25-2014 10:40 PM

Excellent workbench. It’s a smart move to find a stout table and convert it. You’ve done this conversion quite well. Super functionality, and looks great!

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

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5127 days

#12 posted 06-25-2014 11:08 PM

WooHoo Mike.
That looks like a wonderful re-purpose. I have a smaller thick maple top that I have been holding on to for years – you just made me want to go use it for something.

Nothing like having a really heavy bench. It is hard to say how nice it is when it does not rock around. And everything you set on it just stays there.

Love the triangle jig thingy. I am going to copy that.

I share in your joy,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View luv2learn's profile


3144 posts in 3548 days

#13 posted 06-25-2014 11:44 PM

Mike, what a fortunate find and what a great write up of how you turned this trestle table into a highly functional workbench. Kudos to you for bringing all your ideas to bare to make this beautiful bench.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View changeoffocus's profile


467 posts in 2862 days

#14 posted 06-26-2014 12:38 AM

You have a good eye for a bargain and the finished project is impressive.
Great narrative, thanks for posting.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4548 days

#15 posted 06-26-2014 12:58 AM

really a wow project here mike, that is one personalized work bench, a fantastic job and im surprised you got so much done with your garden to care for, thanks for all of the pictures and explanation….i dont know if i will ever make any more changes to mine but if i do this is where i shall get my inspiration…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

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