FWW New-fangled Workbench

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Project by Jeff posted 09-14-2007 04:19 AM 23906 views 41 times favorited 39 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Originally published as project in the Nov/Dec 1999 issue of Fine Woodworking, this bench was developed by John White, the shop manager at FWW. It was recently revived when the folks at the magazine put out a video as an update due to several inquiries about the bench over the years. For links to the video and the public-domain PDF file with the plans, please check out my blog on the build process. The blog contains some Sketchup shots as well as an idea for making the bench more of a knock-down type bench for those with limited space and/or seasonal considerations that would require portability.

Fir construction lumber (be sure to check out the article for suggestions on the milling)
1/2” Galvanized pipe
Jorgensen “Pony” pipe clamp fittings
Lag bolts and deck screws

Thanks for taking a look.

P.S. My apologies for the fuzziness of the photos. I didn’t realize until I saw them blown up they were shaky. I need to use a tripod in the future.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

39 comments so far

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5282 days

#1 posted 09-14-2007 04:21 AM

I remember the bench from the links. I think it’s a great project.

-- 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

1823 posts in 5331 days

#2 posted 09-14-2007 04:27 AM

I’ll get around to it one of these days Jeff. Great job. How is it to use?

-- Bob

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 5339 days

#3 posted 09-14-2007 04:28 AM

Thanks, Tom.

It’s a little after-the-fact for a project post but, hey, I was busy using it. Ha!

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 5339 days

#4 posted 09-14-2007 04:36 AM

Bob, it’s pretty nice. More stable than I thought it would be since it is kinda light. The one issue I’ve had so far is with the face clamps. Since my salvaged door is an extra half inch thicker, the face clamps ride lower in their holes and thus have a slight tendency to pull thin work pieces under and out out of flush with the front rail. This is due to were they are exerting most of the force. I just need to mount a piece on the bottom at the front to give it a little more surface area. That is minor issue though.

I love how I can mount things like my grinder or benchtop drill press to a piece of MDF and just drop it in the bench. The planing beam is a as slick as it looks in the video.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5208 days

#5 posted 09-14-2007 04:50 AM

Jeff, that is a really interesting bench. I watched the blogs while you were working on it. It really came out great. I will have to study a little more to really understand how it works but I’ll bet it’s just right.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4074 posts in 5309 days

#6 posted 09-14-2007 05:55 AM

Yeah! Been looking for this one. Great job, Jeff.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View David's profile


1969 posts in 5384 days

#7 posted 09-14-2007 06:22 AM

Jeff -

Excellent! I have been following your bench blog very carefully. Great work on the blog and bench. Thanks for all the details!



View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 5242 days

#8 posted 09-14-2007 06:44 AM

Great work Jeff! Looks and sounds like it’s super handy to use…

Have you moved yet? New shop?

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 5339 days

#9 posted 09-14-2007 03:24 PM

Thanks Doug, David, and Dorje.

Dorje, nope, no move yet. Still haven’t unloaded the condo. There is one more open house push this weekend since there is a big-deal walking tour in our neighborhood and the realtor is hoping for some good traffic. We always have good traffic but it seems folks are just kicking the tires… Thanks for asking.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 5299 days

#10 posted 09-14-2007 07:35 PM

Great job Jeff. I’ve built the same one. That’s a great idea for the front vise storage on the center beam. I might have to pilfer that one. I’m adding a few things other things to mine and will post it soon.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View Nicky's profile


718 posts in 5337 days

#11 posted 09-14-2007 11:35 PM

Nice job. I remember the artical.

Seems that when I build something for my shop I always have some after thoughts about what I could have done to improve on the project. Since you’ve mentioned that you’ve been using the bench, any thing come to mind as far as improvements?

-- Nicky

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1358 posts in 5244 days

#12 posted 09-15-2007 03:14 AM

I’ve seen this in FWW and think its the most cleverly design workbench I’ve ever seen. Wish I had room in my shop for one. Nice work on the construction.

-- Bob A in NJ

View JGardner23's profile


24 posts in 5159 days

#13 posted 09-15-2007 03:15 AM

looks great. Nice work. I am also building the same bench. all I have done is the ends so far. I plan i on finishing it tomorrow. i will post some pics.

-- Jason, Wood Working Has Taken Over My Life. And I Love It.

View Karson's profile


35278 posts in 5646 days

#14 posted 09-15-2007 03:53 AM

Nice bench Jeff. A useful design.

-- 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 Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 5339 days

#15 posted 09-15-2007 04:39 PM

Tom Angle – If you have any questions, please feel free to send a PM. Thanks for following the blog.

Carl, I browsed some of your projects and noticed yours off to the side in some of your ‘rustic’ bench pics. I’d love to see posted pics so we could compare notes. JGardner23, I’m interested to see yours as well. Good luck with the finish.

Bob A, what size work do you do typically? I think the design is flexible enough and inexpensive enough that a person could make shorter ones. Even down to say a 36” size. The basic uses that make it a great design would still apply I think.

Nicky, a tool well similar to traditional benches would be really nice. Other than that, I haven’t really thought of anything to change yet other than compensating for the extra thickness a little better (see response to Bob B. at top). I did have an intention to put some kind of hardwood trim around the ends and back edge just to clean it up but that has no functional value-add. If something comes up, I’ll be posting it to the blog though. Do you have any ideas?

Karson, thanks for the nod.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

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