Split Top Workbench

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Project by jwicks posted 11-05-2010 10:15 PM 12106 views 32 times favorited 39 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Seems like I’ve been working on it most of the year, but finally here is my completed workbench.

It’s basically a Holzapffel design but I modified it to have a split top. I think the split top has several advantages:

1) A parallel clamp fits in the middle for more options when clamping things to the bench
2) A board placed there can be used a planing stop
3) A place to store tools close at hand while working at the bench
4) Each half still fits through my planer if I ever needed to re-flatten that way. During the construction I found it easier to just hand plane it flat. The pieces are too big and heavy to easily maneuver through a planer.

I still have to build that tool holder / planing stop piece to really take advantage of 2) + 3). I plan to make something similar to the “gap stop” that is shown in this split-top roubo video: (

It’s made entirely out of SYP except for the twin screw vise chop which is cherry and the tool holder on the back right corner which is walnut.

The twin screw vise screw and nut hardware were purchased from Lake Erie Toolworks (

The top is connected to the legs with lag screws. The two end assemblies are glued and pegged mortise and tenon joints. The long front and back stretchers have tenons that fit into mortises in the end assembly and use bench bolts so that I can take the bench apart if needed.

I finished it with 3 ragged on coats of danish oil.

-- Jon

39 comments so far

View TomFran's profile


2961 posts in 4502 days

#1 posted 11-05-2010 10:29 PM

Very nice build! I’m sure you’ll get many years of pleasurable use out of it.

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

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3545 days

#2 posted 11-05-2010 10:30 PM

That’s a great bench! I have to ask—are you by chance left handed?

-- David from Indiana --

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3794 days

#3 posted 11-05-2010 10:30 PM

Awesome bench. You will really enjoy using it.


View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3682 days

#4 posted 11-05-2010 10:38 PM

Beautiful job !

I ask because I genuinely don’t know: is SYP generally considered a bit soft for your typical top ?

I like your thoughts on the split top. Really a great looking bench !

-- -- Neil

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


743 posts in 3781 days

#5 posted 11-05-2010 10:41 PM

Beautiful and functional! Very nicely done.

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View AttainableApex's profile


347 posts in 3341 days

#6 posted 11-05-2010 10:46 PM


-- Ben L

View jwicks's profile


54 posts in 4116 days

#7 posted 11-05-2010 10:50 PM

@dfdye: Yup, south paw.
@NBeener: Followed The Schwarz’s recommendation. Lots of good info about wood selection in the first chapter of his workbench book. sYP is definitely more prone to denting than hard maple, but I’m not to worried about that. And since it’s all over the orange and blue box stores it’s bdft price is ridiculously cheap compared to anything else in my area.

-- Jon

View wannadoitall's profile


56 posts in 3303 days

#8 posted 11-05-2010 10:56 PM

Very nice workbench!

-- -Angela, "Christos Anesti!"

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3682 days

#9 posted 11-05-2010 10:57 PM

Ordered the (used) book. Heard too may good things about it, and seen TOO many nice benches, based on his advice … not to :-)

Thank. Enjoy it. Should be a great bench for generations !

-- -- Neil

View CL810's profile


3960 posts in 3496 days

#10 posted 11-05-2010 11:13 PM

Great bench. Looks like your efforts paid off handsomely.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3364 days

#11 posted 11-05-2010 11:17 PM

That is one great bench.

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Chris's profile


27 posts in 3357 days

#12 posted 11-05-2010 11:25 PM

Very nice job. I also like a softer top. Better a dent in your bench than one in you project piece.

-- Chris, Hubertus, WI

View Tom's profile


30 posts in 3927 days

#13 posted 11-06-2010 12:04 AM

A real beauty Jon

-- Tom

View Robsshop's profile


921 posts in 3483 days

#14 posted 11-06-2010 12:21 AM

Jon,First things first, a stunning bench to say the least ! It looks like it would give a Sherman tank hell in a wrestling match ! It”s got to be a good feeling when something of this size comes together and turns out as nice as it certainly looks. I will at some point bite the bullet and set out to construct a must have shop fixture such as this. If You don’t mind me asking,what would You guesstimate Your hours and ballpark figure on cost to be ? Once again beautiful work and thanks for the post !!

-- Rob,Gaithersburg,MD,One mans trash is another mans wood shop treasure ! ;-)

View MayflowerDescendant's profile


414 posts in 3295 days

#15 posted 11-06-2010 12:33 AM

Simply exquisite! Great job. Enjoy … you deserve it.

-- Glen - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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