My Workbench (Paul Sellers)

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Project by LiamB posted 09-08-2018 03:58 PM 2101 views 4 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My workbench.

I only have a small room, difficult to take good pic when it’s as messy as i tend to keep it.

It is square, level and solid. Not perfect though, mortice and tenons are very unforgiving, all your errors there for all to see. Paul Sellers does say leave an inch protruding on the tenons to be shaped, for aesthetic purposes, it would also distract from mistakes.

Someone else, LastingBuild, mentioned orienting the benchtop so all grain was matching to make levelling easier, agreed. I found a thicknesser, though expensive and scary, helped no end. I would have drilled holes for bench dogs before attaching the top. My drilling, even though I take care is always slightly slanted in one direction, at best, so I am now looking for a way to reliably drill perpendicular 3/4” holes in situ. I would also like to fit a tail vice.

In the interests of full disclosure i also used small trim router (can recommend, very handy and not too scary machine) for the housings in the skirts to fit the legs into and under the benchtop to sit onto the leg bearers. So it’s a bit of a mongrel, but I like it.

Took a few months, but I took my time marking things out, tried to get things right, the mortice and tenons took time and care, they’re still not perfect but they’re not bad.

I don’t think I lost my temper once, at any stage and I can’t tell you how good a feeling it was putting a spirit level on top and seeing that bubble stay in the middle no matter what I did. Anyway i picked up a few tips from this website, so thanks for your help, Liam.

7 comments so far

View Sylvain's profile


1676 posts in 3960 days

#1 posted 09-08-2018 07:26 PM

As hold-fast will sit askew in the holes, I don’t see any reason for the holes to be perfectly perpendicular to the top.
look at eleventh picture here

Your P.S. workbench looks better than mine (made with recycled wood). How rough mine might be, it is such an enormous improvement from a B&D Workmate (which is still handy from time to time).

Congratulations. Many nice woodworking hours.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn (and that is nice)

View therealSteveN's profile


9997 posts in 2034 days

#2 posted 09-08-2018 08:23 PM

If it’s sturdy, doesn’t go floating away if you plane on it, and meets the requirements of what you have planned to do on it, it’s a winner.

About the drilling of holes after the fact, it can be a challenge, “there are a number of “drill stands available for sale using a hand held drill, but I’ve yet to see one that was worth a darn, cheap and wobbly, and we are already at that point most of us, no need to spend money to perfect it.

This guy had an idea that some might find easy to use.

A cheap alternative that does work pretty well is using a 2×6, and attach another both about 12” long at right angles. One side lays flat, which causes the other side to stand upright, and as square as you made it. You just use it as a sighting platform to hold the drill up to, and hopefully control wander.

I find if I can get about 1 1/2” in straight I can then finish the hole without a guide, the starter hole keeps the bit straight, and if you watch not to open up the starter hole you will go straight down and make as perfect a hole as a cheap drill press could.

I call it the “Swiss Cheeser” I first used it to make MFT type worktables based on a 3/4” hole, where you can easily find plenty of accessories to work with it for stops, dogs, clamps, and whatever. In Ireland you may have to size metric to be able to access that amount of accessories, but you know that.

You put it against the edge of whatever top you are drilling out, and clamp it still for the first line of holes, than stick a dog into the far side, allowing the near side to enter your undrilled field, and just keep leap frogging as you go. Just a few, or a total field, and the worlds your oyster. It looks really wierd, but what you are seeing is wood grain. The holes were drilled on a heavy machine shop drill with about .000000001 runout, so it’s dead on. A home drill press would work just fine for woodworking. I’ve used this for a number of tops, both for myself and others around here, and the holes are still 3/4” diameter.

Top view of it.

And the bottom view, nothing special just 2 dead flat pieces of wood at right angles to each other. One the stop, the other the field. easy peasy. I used construction lumber, so it was cheap, run it’s face over the jointer, then through the planer. The top is filthy from all the sweaty hands using it, once it was as clean as the bottom, It’s simple stupid, but it works very well to keep your bit going straight for long enough to have the hole you started keep you running straight.

-- Think safe, be safe

View NormG's profile


6576 posts in 4464 days

#3 posted 09-08-2018 09:46 PM

Wow, nicely done, thank you for sharing

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

View LiamB's profile


3 posts in 1356 days

#4 posted 09-10-2018 04:54 PM

Thanks for the replies, it’s always nice to get some encouragement.

I don’t see anything wrong with your bench Sylvain, and workmates are handy. That vice you have looks familiar, mine is an Eclipse 7”, cost 125 Euro locally.

I’m still a bit reluctant to go drilling holes in my nice new top, when I do i might use the small router to start it off to make sure it’s straight. I’d like to move on and starting using the bench now rather than working on it. Thanks again, Liam.

View Kuryakin's profile


6 posts in 2374 days

#5 posted 09-10-2018 05:25 PM

I “drilled” holes perpendicular into my last workbench with a plunge router and straight 3/4” bit and a jig (large accessory plate with guide) to help align the holes, referencing off the edge of the workbench. Worked very well.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17825 posts in 4079 days

#6 posted 09-10-2018 06:00 PM

They’re holes. In wood. And perfection is not needed to ensure success. In other words, don’t overthink the drilling of holes. Relax, it’ll be fine.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View Tom's profile


329 posts in 1352 days

#7 posted 10-13-2018 02:03 PM

Great workbench Liam. I built one last July and the main bench without add ons took about one week. Paul’s workbench design is from an old book called Joinery and Carpentry by Richard Greenhalgh. I’m sure the design predates even that old book. There are no dog holes, but there is a bench stop. it even has the drawer.

I also do not really like holes in my bench for several reasons and you really don’t need them unless you want them. My bench is longer so I decided to add the end vise with a couple dogs for grooving smaller joinery pieces. I also added a metal bench stop for convenience. I think a lot of people confuse the need for a planing bench versus a joinery bench. I like doing joinery by hand and I really try to avoid processing big pieces of stock. I leave that to the machines. If you do it that way, the dog holes and holdfasts really are not all that necessary. Most work can be done easily in the front vise. So it just depends a bit on the type of work that you want to do. That’s also why Paul has a higher bench which is better for doing joinery with smaller pieces that are already very close to dimension. It’s really a great design. Sturdy, solid, inexpensive. Just need a good solid front vise to do 95% of the work and a few small add ons and clamps for the rest.

-- Tom

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