Solid Oak Woodworking Bench

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Project by Blake posted 12-02-2009 10:26 PM 14971 views 25 times favorited 35 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This workbench was inspired by a truckload of free oak boards that I ended up with. I don’t like oak furniture, but I thought it would be perfect for a bench. Its my first real bench, and I built it to be practical more than beautiful.

The entire top is laminated with 3/4” boards with varying widths from 2 1/2” to 4”. The top is about two feet by four feet. Its small, but I barely have room for it as it is. The last photo (above) shows a piece of curly-figured Oak (which I’ve never seen before) that I used for the tool tray.

The base is construction grade 4×6 Doug Fir painted black.

I installed two large vices and a hold down for chopping dovetails. The front vice is a really nice, old Craftsman with a quick-release mechanism that I bought from the flee market years ago. The vice I used as a “tail” vice is unmarked except for “U.S.A.” The Hold down is marked “Sheffield England 146” and was a gift from my boss.


Both vices got 8/4 solid oak jaws to facilitate the use of Veritas brass bench dogs, which I ordered from Lee Valley. I made the tail vice jaw extend the entire width of the bench for clamping large and irregular pieces.


I went to Home Depot for 7/8” dowel stock for temporary vice handles because I know it only comes in some cheap semi-hard wood. But I found a dowel in the pile that was spalted-whatever wood and I decided I liked it enough to make it permanent. So I gave it Bubinga caps and black leather cushions to protect it from the impact of sliding back and forth (thanks for the idea Todd).


I still have several bench accessories that I want to build including a chest of drawers built into the base for tool storage, bench hooks, chuting boards, etc. But the first of the accessories I made was a movable lamp stand. I can place it in any dog-hole so I always have light where I need it for hand tool use. Or I can remove it completely when it is in the way.


I have been researching, collecting, restoring and sharpening an accumulation of beautiful hand tools that I haven’t had much opportunity to actually USE since I haven’t had a proper bench. I think this will be a turning point for me as a woodworker as well as my work. I can’t wait to cut my first hand-cut dovetails.

I blogged the building process of this bench HERE in my series Hand Tool Journey if you would like more information.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the completed chest of drawers I installed in the bench:

Click for details

-- Happy woodworking!

35 comments so far

View OhValleyWoodandWool's profile


970 posts in 4571 days

#1 posted 12-02-2009 10:31 PM

Great looking bench. Good Job

-- "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure." Mark Twain

View Alonso's profile


949 posts in 4689 days

#2 posted 12-02-2009 10:35 PM

Very nice bench, nicely done


-- The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me.

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 4697 days

#3 posted 12-02-2009 10:37 PM

Nice bench. Like the dog hole lamp a lot. Happy dovetailing!

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View bfd's profile


502 posts in 5257 days

#4 posted 12-02-2009 10:40 PM

Blake this turned out great! Massive and great job on all the accessories. Really dig the light with the peg to fit into the bench dog holes. Looking forward to seeing what you build on this. Black paint on the base was the way to go.

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4791 days

#5 posted 12-02-2009 10:54 PM

great build blake ,

and a good use of free wood .

it should help with your projects allot .

great light idea !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 5123 days

#6 posted 12-02-2009 11:00 PM

Nice workbench, Blake!

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4785 days

#7 posted 12-02-2009 11:09 PM

Magnificent bench Blake. The painted base looks great too. With the hold-down and clamping alternatives you should be able to build about anything on your new bench. Congrats on a very well done project. Of course we now expect to see a lot of advanced projects coming from your shop, LOL.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View SNSpencer's profile


133 posts in 4564 days

#8 posted 12-02-2009 11:51 PM

Sweet! I will Private Message you with my address. You can drop it off at any time. ;-)

-- Jef Spencer - Refined Pallet -

View Brian Havens's profile

Brian Havens

196 posts in 4556 days

#9 posted 12-03-2009 12:03 AM

I like it! What are the dimensions of the top? I like the setup, especially the end vice and the hold-down. Makes for a nice “joinery bench”.

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker

View Jason's profile


660 posts in 4959 days

#10 posted 12-03-2009 12:07 AM

That looks like an excellent bench. Looks a bit smaller then other benches, but still a productive size. I am also curious of its dimensions.

-- Jason - Colorado Springs

View Dudley's profile


742 posts in 4711 days

#11 posted 12-03-2009 12:15 AM

Very nice bench. BZ

-- Dudley Young USN Retired. Sebastian, Fl.

View DaddyT's profile


267 posts in 4960 days

#12 posted 12-03-2009 12:37 AM

Wow that is great!! Hope you dont mind me working off your idea, but I gotta make one like it ( well with my own tweeks of course)

-- Jimi _ Measure twice, cut [email protected]#%#[email protected]!!!......measure twice, cut....

View rustfever's profile


801 posts in 4761 days

#13 posted 12-03-2009 12:50 AM

Love It!

The idea to hole the work lamp is great. thanks for the pic’s

-- Rustfever, Central California

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5439 days

#14 posted 12-03-2009 01:02 AM

Great job Blake!

I noticed that you bolted it to the floor. Wise more with such a narrow footprint.

The light idea is cool also.

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

View Karson's profile


35300 posts in 5851 days

#15 posted 12-03-2009 01:43 AM

Blake: a great looking bench. A very nice piece of oak with the grain. The vise handle looks fantastic. I’ll have to try something like that also.

-- 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]

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