Burr oak workbench

  • Advertise with us
Project by JayT posted 11-25-2018 08:17 PM 2543 views 3 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Decided to upgrade my workbench this year. My previous bench has been a workhorse for the past five years, but over that time how I work and the projects I’m focusing on have changed. In response, I decided it would be easier and better to build a new bench instead of modifying the previous one. Went back with a design based on a Holtzapffel bench, with some modifications to better meet my personal needs.

Made a visit to my sawyer to see what he had available for bench material. Among other pieces, he had a stack of short and wide 6/4 burr oak that all had defects so was willing to sell for a bargain price. I was able to sort through and come up with enough good pieces for legs, stretchers and vise. Then we went to look for a top. He had several possibilities of 8/4 that could be ripped and laminated and then showed me a few burr oak slabs. I have always loved the look of slab benches and this became my opportunity to build one. Sorted through and selected one. Hauled it all home and got ready to work.

For those out there that think a good workbench is going to cost an arm and a leg, that’s just not the case if you are willing to do a bit of work and understand that a bench doesn’t need to be made of furniture quality wood. By being willing to start with stock that was not desirable to others, whether due to length, warp or other defects, I was able to purchase all the wood for under $300.

Bench was built in a true hybrid manner. Hand planes to flatten, joint and smooth. Band saw, drill press and planer to dimension and rough out mortises and tenons. Took a few weeks longer than I had planned to get completed, but I’m very happy with the results. With careful selection and milling of the 6/4 stock, there was plenty for the base and I was able to use the pieces with more character on the front—QS for one leg and the vise chop and worm-holed pieces for the front stretcher and vise leg.

Bench is 38in tall, 60in long and ~20in deep, with the top being about 3-3/4 thick after working out some twist and flattening. The slab for the top ended up about 17-1/2 wide, so in order to get a bit more width, I decided on a tool slot across the back. I had found the end cap tool slot very useful on the previous bench, so this made a good opportunity to combine the benefits of a tool slot with the need for additional width.

Vise is a Veritas twin screw chain vise, purchased secondhand from fellow LJ woodcox when he upgraded recently. Jaws are leather lined. I wanted the rear of the vise to be the front of the bench, not an additional jaw that extended out even further from the bench. Instructions didn’t have any help for that eventuality, but some creative problem solving allowed it to happen. Front chop is chamfered to reduce the likelihood of hitting a sharp corner.

Bench is finished with Danish oil—dark walnut on the base and natural on the top and vise.

All in all, I’m very satisfied with the result. My old bench has served well for many years, but this one should be even better, due to a better understanding of how I work and my needs.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

20 comments so far

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2651 days

#1 posted 11-25-2018 08:28 PM

Impressive bud. You really knocked this one out.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Andre's profile


4624 posts in 2971 days

#2 posted 11-25-2018 08:49 PM

Very nice, love the character that Oak shows! Looking back wish I had made my bench a little nicer.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View waho6o9's profile


9036 posts in 3742 days

#3 posted 11-25-2018 09:51 PM

Now that’s a beefy bench, good job JayT!

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

7167 posts in 4360 days

#4 posted 11-26-2018 12:25 AM

Stellar job on building the work bench…..A good sturdy work bench is a must have in the woodshop….Needs to be beefy, stout, and does not rack when applying pressure to the top as in planeing, sawing, etc…..You really knocked this one out of the park…..Excellent…..!! It will last you many years to come…..!!

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View Brit's profile


8334 posts in 4008 days

#5 posted 11-26-2018 12:35 AM

Well done Jay. That’s gonna be a pleasure to work on.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View therealSteveN's profile


8273 posts in 1740 days

#6 posted 11-26-2018 01:50 AM

Nice bench.

Thanks for posting, always fun to see bench builds.

-- Think safe, be safe

View HokieKen's profile


18489 posts in 2304 days

#7 posted 11-26-2018 02:16 AM

Nice work Jay. Something about a beefy oak bench just feels right. Well thought out and intentionally executed should make for a lifetime bench!

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View swirt's profile


6360 posts in 4137 days

#8 posted 11-26-2018 03:26 AM

Excellent work on that bench.

-- Galootish log blog,

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2651 days

#9 posted 11-26-2018 03:27 AM

Yeah. My next one is gonna be red oak :( I hate. Red oak. I will think of this one wistfully when working my red oak.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View JayT's profile


6427 posts in 3376 days

#10 posted 11-26-2018 03:37 AM

Thanks all for the comments and compliments

Fridge, if you want to make a long road trip, I’d send you the name of my sawyer. I was really hoping to do a locust top, either black or honey, but the only slabs he had were the burr oak. All the locust was 8/4, so would have to have been laminated. Slab top took precedence over species preference.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View theoldfart's profile (online now)


12757 posts in 3617 days

#11 posted 11-26-2018 04:24 AM

Great bench Jay, you should be set for life. I like the grain on the legs as well as the chop. Good looking work overall.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Don W's profile

Don W

20122 posts in 3733 days

#12 posted 11-26-2018 09:47 AM

Excellent work JayT. Your going to love working on it.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View shipwright's profile


8734 posts in 3963 days

#13 posted 11-26-2018 02:33 PM

Really nice work! A very personal bench with a lot of your thought and planning built in. You will be able to enjoy that every time you use it. You can’t beat that feeling.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View woodcox's profile


2386 posts in 3177 days

#14 posted 11-26-2018 02:51 PM

Congrats with the new workbench, JayT. Fine work sir.

-- "My god has more wood than your god" ... G. Carlin.

View ToddJB's profile


8778 posts in 3296 days

#15 posted 11-26-2018 04:31 PM

Looks like a heck of an addition to the shop. Congrats, JayT

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

showing 1 through 15 of 20 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics