Hefty Woodworker's Workbench with Leg & Tail Vises - Solid Oak and Ipe

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Project by FuzzyDove posted 11-06-2018 02:15 PM 30307 views 15 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m primarily a machine woodworker so one of my goals has been to use hand tools more – hence the inspiration to build a true woodworker’s workbench. A little research and I settled on the really high quality hardware sold by Benchcrafted. I used the “Glide M Solo” crisscross for the front vise and their moving block “tail vise M”. Yes, this hardware was expensive, but the quality was outstanding and the instructions very thorough. These days it is a rarity to find old world quality – the shear heft of their hardware makes operation smooth, beefy and effortless.
Next decision was what wood. My goal was to make the bench extremely beefy and heavy so that there would be no movement when really putting the muscle into a demanding operation. 10+ years ago I felled a huge oak tree on my property and cut it into lumber including some 4”x6” timbers that have been air drying ever since. These were milled and glued up butcher block style for the top. The size of the timbers dictated the size of the final bench, which is 4-5/8” thick, 26” deep, 78” wide and 34” tall. The skirt and legs where made from Ipe which is very hard, dense and heavy. Everything was assembled with beefy barrel bolts, titebond III, and mortise and tenons that were locked in place with multiple board glue ups over top of the previously exposed joints (eg – the glued/bolted tenon joint is sandwiched inside of a final glue up). The entire bench was built upside-down, and was an exercise in patience since each timber glue up was a project in itself. And the top ends were cut to be one long mortise/tenon joint, like a breadboard end but with additional strength via 12” long lag bolts. The cut outs for the tail vise were a real challenge, but knowing what needed to be done prior to assembly allowed for an ideal assembly (see picture).
The end result is an insanely HEAVY bench. I had four grown men friends who tried to help me and we could not get it to budge, much less, the required lift and flip. So, a friend with an engine hoist was the answer (see picture). Now that it is in place, I have challenged many a friends to lift or budge it… all to no avail. The point being, I’m very pleased that the end product is the most solid and heavy thing I have ever built and should be around for many generations.
To make the top perfectly level, I set up a router sled to level it out one pass at a time (see picture – yes it made quite a mess). The front crisscross vise is made from a solid block of sapele left over from another project. You can give the front vise wheel a spin and it will smoothly spin to close with a snap – again, the quality of Benchcrafted hardware makes it such a pleasure to use. After sanding everything, the finish is just multiple layers of bullseye amber shellac, which should be easy to maintain with the abuse that a good workbench should take.

27 comments so far

View Hazem's profile


265 posts in 2410 days

#1 posted 11-06-2018 02:18 PM

Congratulations on the amazing bench. Wonderful build.

How long did it take?

View therealSteveN's profile


8236 posts in 1736 days

#2 posted 11-06-2018 02:32 PM

Massive looking bench, well done. That BenchCrafted hardware is really good stuff, lotta bux, but also a lotta bang.

Thanks for sharing

-- Think safe, be safe

View waho6o9's profile


9036 posts in 3738 days

#3 posted 11-06-2018 02:47 PM

Impressive to say the least. Congrats on a fantastic family heirloom.

Beautiful work!

View htl's profile


5519 posts in 2321 days

#4 posted 11-06-2018 03:09 PM

That’s a real beauty!!!

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View Notw's profile


1054 posts in 2915 days

#5 posted 11-06-2018 03:47 PM

wow that is a beautiful bench, that first scratch or dent will be hard to get over :-)

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4496 days

#6 posted 11-06-2018 04:03 PM

Great build!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View bluekingfisher's profile


1333 posts in 4141 days

#7 posted 11-06-2018 04:53 PM

It looks a beautiful piece of “furniture” you have created there. I am not sure I would want to work on it. Seeing it with chisels marks, saw cuts and hammer dings would break my heart.

I hope you have a lot of fun and appreciate it each time you set foot in the workshop.

Well done


-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

View ralbuck's profile


6753 posts in 3428 days

#8 posted 11-06-2018 05:09 PM

I have to agree—too pretty to use!

I also like the use of the “cherry-picker” to move that heavy of things in the shop. That bench looks sturdy enough to put a tractor diesel engine on and have it not even flex!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View Planeman40's profile


1554 posts in 3922 days

#9 posted 11-06-2018 06:35 PM

That’s just too damn nice to pound on. It should go in the living room. Love the engine hoist! Keep that close by should you have to move. Wish I had one.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View EarlS's profile


4627 posts in 3510 days

#10 posted 11-06-2018 08:04 PM

You know it’s heavy duty when you have to use a cherry picker. I’ll bet it had trouble lifting it at that. That is a fine looking bench. You need to post it on the work bench smack down forum.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View pottz's profile (online now)


18810 posts in 2146 days

#11 posted 11-06-2018 08:26 PM

man thats a beautiful bench but everyone hates to see it get banged up but to me after you get some dings cuts and scars,thats when it gets pretty.ive love seeing old benches that are all beat up,the stories they could now get out and ding it up so it will tell stories to your kids some day,because thats a bench built for many generations to come.great job.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Woodbridge's profile


3751 posts in 3579 days

#12 posted 11-06-2018 10:34 PM

super bench. I’ve got one on my to do list.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View KimAccurso's profile


511 posts in 1302 days

#13 posted 11-06-2018 11:30 PM

Beautiful enough to be a formal dining room table in a million dollar home. Nevertheless, Pottz is right, all the dings, cuts and scars is what will make it tell stories to generations to come.

-- Kim - imperfection is the pursuit of perfection

View pottz's profile (online now)


18810 posts in 2146 days

#14 posted 11-07-2018 12:14 AM

i had to come back after looking at your shop pics and it confirmed what i thought i saw,your floor is carpeted! now that is something you dont see in many wood is this working for you,i imagine it would be easy on the feet.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View AJ1104's profile


1332 posts in 2821 days

#15 posted 11-07-2018 12:37 AM

Beauty and a beast ! Great build, congratulations!

-- AJ

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