A Workbench for the shop

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Project by GaryK posted 06-28-2007 02:35 AM 25085 views 38 times favorited 32 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the first project I made for my new shop. I have always wanted a good bench and I think this is it.
The size is 3’ x 8’.

The top is made from an old bowling alley lane. Nice hard dry seasoned maple. I’ll tell you now that it was a lot more trouble than it was worth. There were spiral cut nails about every foot along the length of every piece.
Took almost a week to get all the nails out. Then… well it’s a long story but I don’t recommend using an bowling alley lane to anyone.

The top is about 2 1/2 thick with 8/4 hard maple around the edges. Both the tail and front vice came from Lee Valley.

The base is made from southern yellow pine since that will be taking no abuse. Being from California I would have made it from Douglas Fir, but I can’t find it here in Texas. I planed and glued 3 pieces together using tenon construction for the joints. Bolts hold together the cross pieces.

The third picture shows the storage cabinet I made to fill in all the wasted space below. It was made from birch plywood except the the drawer faces which are mahogany. Dovetail construction was used for the drawer sides.

On the top you can barly make out the coffee table that I am working on for my wife. I will post it when I get it done.

I forgot to mention about how I flattened the top. If you look in back of the bench leaning against the wall, in the first picture you will see two boards I used for straight edges and a router in a sled. I clamped one board each side of the long side of the bench using winding sticks to get them level. I used some iron on melamine along the top edges and the bottom edges of the sled to reduce friction. I ran the router back and forth and up and down until I surfaced the entire top. Then a random orbit sander to finish it off. No finish since after all it is a workbench.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

32 comments so far

View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 5186 days

#1 posted 06-28-2007 02:42 AM

Very nice, the bench looks very solid and the storage below fits in well. I like the mahogany, it looks great.

From what I can see it looks like you run a clean shop.

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5295 days

#2 posted 06-28-2007 02:49 AM

I’ve learned to expect t nothing but the best from you, Gary; this is no exception.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View SteveV's profile


78 posts in 5217 days

#3 posted 06-28-2007 03:05 AM

Very nice … looks like you made your own drawer slides too?? No metal full extension slide … I like that.

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5154 days

#4 posted 06-28-2007 03:48 AM

Gary, you are a true craftsman! That’s a beautiful bench!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1821 posts in 5204 days

#5 posted 06-28-2007 04:11 AM

This bench isn’t as beautiful as your other pieces….which is why I like it so much! It’s exactly what a bench should be…strong, rugged, utilitarian, and practical. It looks like you could build a boat on top of it. Exactly what I’d love to have someday. Sotheby’s will sell this at auction for big bucks some day 200 years from now.

-- Bob

View Karson's profile


35276 posts in 5518 days

#6 posted 06-28-2007 05:27 AM

I’ve made two workbenches from bowling Alleys. And I’d recomment to everyone. Why did you take it apart. I left mine all nailed up as it was.

I glued some more strips on the edges so that I could drill bench dog holes without hitting nails. My project

Great looking bench.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5106 days

#7 posted 06-28-2007 05:37 AM

I took it apart because it was loose, had some kind of filler between some boards, and I couldn’t stand the idea of having about 1000 nails that I might have to deal with some day.

Who knows what the future holds. With my luck I would need to drill a hole and hit a nail. Those are hardened steel nails.

I guess that I’m a glutton for punishment!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5355 days

#8 posted 06-28-2007 05:43 AM

can we say very stout, boys and girls? As I builld onto my shop, I’m finding that everything is in the wrong place except for my table saw so … you mind if I copy your bench?

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5336 days

#9 posted 06-28-2007 02:20 PM

Great project, as always, Gary.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 5429 days

#10 posted 06-28-2007 02:34 PM

That is one very nice workbench! You have a great router sled there, too. Thanks for sharing your story and pictures.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View WaywardHoosier's profile


80 posts in 5153 days

#11 posted 06-28-2007 03:17 PM

Gary your projects look great. In most woodworking articles about benches that I have read, maple is the prefered wood. It has a such a nice look. Bowling alley for a top? Now that is coming up with an idea. I know it was frustrating for you but you made it work.

Gary, I will say it again, you are a Craftsman.

-- WaywardHoosier - Behind schedule and over budget, but who's counting? Well of course she is!

View Napaman's profile


5535 posts in 5195 days

#12 posted 06-28-2007 05:36 PM

another great project…thanks for all the details…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1350 posts in 5117 days

#13 posted 06-29-2007 02:14 AM

VERY nice project. Wish I had the room for a permanent bench like this. Plenty of work area and storage!

-- Bob A in NJ

View TomFran's profile


2964 posts in 5112 days

#14 posted 06-29-2007 05:36 PM

Gary – great workbench!

I had someone give me some bowling alley for a workbench too. And, like you, I found out why it’s not the best way to make a bench. Those are some nasty nails in those things – and they are plentiful. I ended up giving away one of the pieces I was given, and then used the other one for a non-woodworking bench.

With your woodworking ability, you deserve to have a bench that nice.

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

View Tim's profile


28 posts in 5119 days

#15 posted 07-01-2007 07:41 PM

Nice bench. I am definitely going to get around to building one some day. Gotta get a bigger shop!!

-- Measure twice!!

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