Underhill Portable Workbench

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Project by Mykos posted 03-02-2015 07:09 PM 8853 views 8 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my folding portable bench. It’s one that Roy Underhill built on ‘The Woodwright’s Shop”. There are plans for it in one of his books, but I followed a build that Steve Branam did on his blog. From seeing his build photos and descriptions and watching the episode of Woodwright’s Shop I managed to draw it up in Sketchup to the dimensions I required.

It’s lighter and smaller than most traditional benches. Which is fine because it’s meant to be portable, and will be staying in my living room. The rigidity comes from the diagonal cross bracing. I’ll be adding a lower shelf to mine as well which I can pile tools on to add weight to the bench. I’m hoping with some rubber feet it won’t scootch too much while I’m planing on it.

Other than milling the wood with a gas powered sawmill and thicknessing it on the big planer at work it was built with hand tools. It was made on sawhorses in my living room (with the glue ups done on the deck).

So far I’m thrilled with it. It’s not an 8’ behemoth for sure, but for living room woodworking it seems to be just perfect.

EDIT: I uploaded the Sketchup drawing to the 3D Warehouse.

11 comments so far

View mafe's profile


13348 posts in 4334 days

#1 posted 03-02-2015 09:35 PM

Really fine bench.
Looks perfect for living room wood working.
Love that you not only use bench dogs but also bench cat, to hold your work in place.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Reverse_Pivot's profile


48 posts in 3065 days

#2 posted 03-03-2015 01:23 AM

Nice looking bench!

Can’t believe someone beat me to the “bench cat” comment…

-- -Tim

View siavosh's profile


674 posts in 3116 days

#3 posted 03-03-2015 04:23 AM

Pretty sweet bench! As a fellow woodworker without a shop, I’m always interested seeing how others manage with the constraints. Congrats.

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

View Jarmo's profile


35 posts in 2588 days

#4 posted 03-03-2015 08:58 PM

I highly recommend you turn your entire living room into a wood shop. My studio apartment used to have furniture made for comfort and relaxing, but those have long been replaced with woodworking tools. The women love it. I think.

View Mykos's profile


103 posts in 3040 days

#5 posted 03-03-2015 10:26 PM

My daughter and cat love it. Wife is tolerant, but wouldn’t go so far as saying ‘loving it’.

I’m going to talk with Veritas and see if I can get ‘bench cats’ into production. The fantastic thing about bench cat is that you don’t even have to lift a finger to hold something down. Any piece of wood you want to move she sits on. The downside is any tool you want to use, also is sat on. More R&D is needed.

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 3114 days

#6 posted 03-04-2015 01:22 AM

I wanted to come here and comment as well. The workmanship and design of this bench is superb. You got some praise in the bench thread, but your project is daily top three worthy, in my opinion. She’s a beauty!

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

View Mykos's profile


103 posts in 3040 days

#7 posted 03-04-2015 03:52 PM

Thanks for the kind words. I don’t know if I’d call the workmanship superb, but it came together well. The design is brilliant however. I believe it first appeared in print in 1918 in “The Practical Woodworker” by Bernard Jones. That’s what Steve said on his blog anyway.

View Tim Royal 's profile

Tim Royal

325 posts in 2732 days

#8 posted 03-07-2015 04:07 PM

Lol… I also have a “bench cat” although she is more often a “desk cat” always fun to be working on a document and come back to her purring away on your laptop with 25 pages of gibberish typed up for you!

-- -Tim Royal -"Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real." -Thomas Merton

View OleGrump's profile


581 posts in 1590 days

#9 posted 01-15-2018 03:28 PM

Because this bench is short, did you offset the two pairs of legs to make it fold flatter? I know in the original plans in Roy’s book and TV show, the bench does not fold down entirely flat. Thank you.

-- OleGrump

View Mykos's profile


103 posts in 3040 days

#10 posted 01-15-2018 03:40 PM

Correct. That is exactly what I did. The hinge points are offset from each other by the thickness of the leg material so that when it’s folded it turns into a flat sandwich. I usually throw a ratchet strap around the whole thing like that and it can slide right into the back of my Jeep.

View OleGrump's profile


581 posts in 1590 days

#11 posted 01-16-2018 12:47 PM

Thank you very much for your response. I appreciate the information. This approach made sense to me in looking at Roy’s plans, and I’d wondered if that’s what you’d done when you built your version. You’ve built a great bench. I’m sure you enjoy working at it.

-- OleGrump

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