Father and Sons Sellers-style workbenches

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Project by JohnMcClure posted 08-16-2017 02:38 PM 6308 views 3 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I loosely followed Paul Sellers’ workbench plans to build myself a small (5’ long) bench.

What better way to practice mortising through 3.5” fir than by making a junior-sized one for the kids first?

(When I say “loosely”, it’s because while I did a lot more hand work than usual, I did not work completely “unplugged” like Sellers does. I don’t yet have the skill for it. But I’m one step closer now!)

The beauty of Sellers’ bench is that, due to the aprons, there is no racking under reciprocating horizontal stress. In my bench, the top and front apron are one piece, and the wellboard and rear apron are a separate piece. There is a small expansion gap between them. Wedges secure the aprons to the legs, and 1” dowels keep the top from sliding off. The dowels are not glued in, so the bench could be disassembled if need be. I don’t plan on that but now it’s upgradeable.

The kids’ bench is constructed similarly, about ½ scale, but the tops are screwed to the legs from underneath and there are no housing dados.

Installing the 9” vise was a blast, but the really cool thing was picking up a $19 HF vise and putting it on the junior bench, so the kids have one to match! To avoid finger crushing, I put a spacer in their vise so it can’t close tighter than about 3/8”.

I bought the Highland WW Threading Kit for 1-1/4” dowels to give the kids a good tactile interaction with wood. I tapped 4 holes in their bench and made pegs they can screw in. I plan to make larger wooden heads for their screws, as well as getting a 3/4” kit so they can have different sizes.

Anyway, the kids love their workbench, and the opportunity to be out in the garage with Daddy, and be just like me; and my wife loves it too, including because now they can rampage through my stuff instead of hers for a while!

Boring stuff: The only metal in my bench is 4 finishing nails, which encourage the wedges to stay in place. The whole thing is made from construction lumber. Aprons and top are SYP 2×4 planed and glued up, wellboard is the clear radiata pine from HD, and the legs are DF 4×4. 1/2” through mortises on the stretchers are “arts and crafts”-y, and the top stretchers are also through mortised. Those leg frames are solid! Finish is BLO, with Kilz primer (my favorite) on all endgrain. The vise is the Eclipse 9” QR and it is NICE.

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

14 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5378 days

#1 posted 08-16-2017 03:37 PM

Awesome build. Glad the kids are getting started early.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

8345 posts in 4634 days

#2 posted 08-16-2017 05:44 PM

This is great! Love seeing post with dad and the kids enjoying shop time. Teach them well; thanks for sharing!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View Jason Miller's profile

Jason Miller

3 posts in 1615 days

#3 posted 08-16-2017 05:52 PM

I love the kids’ bench. Great idea!

View ClaudeF's profile


1401 posts in 2988 days

#4 posted 08-16-2017 06:04 PM

View TheWoodYogi's profile


273 posts in 2718 days

#5 posted 08-16-2017 08:41 PM

Beautiful job, I love it John :) I’ve been thinking of doing something similar for my son and after seeing your kids joy, I will get on with it soon. Thanks for sharing idea :)

-- Wood Yogi - Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success. - Swami Sivananda

View MC's profile


234 posts in 3628 days

#6 posted 08-17-2017 02:14 AM


View BurlyBob's profile


9395 posts in 3546 days

#7 posted 08-17-2017 02:15 AM

Just plain wonderful. I hope my grandsons will enjoy something like that with me!!

View oldnovice's profile


7757 posts in 4649 days

#8 posted 08-17-2017 06:20 AM

What could be better?
A father and his son and their workbenches, something he will remember, believe me!

-- "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -- Aldous Huxley

View PUREMADNESS's profile


14 posts in 2165 days

#9 posted 08-17-2017 07:55 AM

Very very COOL that you made one for the kids as well!!

The main one look great! The Paul Sellers bench in awesome!! have one of my own.

View JohnMcClure's profile


1414 posts in 1921 days

#10 posted 08-17-2017 12:19 PM

Thank you for the kind comments, everyone!

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

View Desert_Woodworker's profile


8408 posts in 2495 days

#11 posted 08-17-2017 03:03 PM

This is what I call teaching. Oh by the way, nice project :)

-- Desert_Woodworker

View Desert_Woodworker's profile


8408 posts in 2495 days

#12 posted 08-17-2017 03:08 PM

What could be better?
A father and his son and their workbenches, something he will remember, believe me!

- oldnovice

I do believe you, from my past experiences and someday a Father and Son with a CNC, sound familar :)

-- Desert_Woodworker

View htl's profile


5597 posts in 2440 days

#13 posted 08-17-2017 05:37 PM

Both benches are just right and perfect for getting er done,
and always love to hear the story’s behind the projects.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View NormG's profile


6574 posts in 4285 days

#14 posted 08-19-2017 03:32 PM

What a great work bench for the son

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

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