split top torsion box workbench

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Project by John posted 08-29-2020 10:55 AM 1181 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Decided that I needed a stable, heavy, flat workbench as I got more into hand tool work. After reading about it, chose to use a plywood torsion box design. Legs are mortise and tenoned/layered into the torsion box layers, making for an incredibly rigid construction. The thing does not move or wobble. All plywood construction, laminated with screws and nails/staples, with removable MDF top. Happy with the decision to make it a split top. I use it constantly with clamps to secure a piece in the middle of the bench.

I would have like to make a traditional solid wood bench, and maybe someday I will. But I was able to put this together in a weekend and it is really functional. Does not move an inch during hand planing, is flat, and I can hammer on top of it without vibration. Very happy with it. Photos before I added a face vise.

5 comments so far

View therealSteveN's profile


6648 posts in 1489 days

#1 posted 08-29-2020 04:54 PM

A well made torsion box for a bench topper is a rigid surface. In my experience though they have been used when you wanted a lighter top. For a hand tool bench I have always been drawn to a massive, heavyweight top, that would hold still under the rigors of hand tool work.

I hope the bench can serve you well.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Vince's profile


1278 posts in 4344 days

#2 posted 08-29-2020 05:33 PM

Nice work, were you able to build it out of one sheet of plywood?

-- Vince

View John's profile


32 posts in 4306 days

#3 posted 08-30-2020 12:10 AM

Thanks for the comments. Yes, there is nothing more beautiful than a solid wood maple or ash classic workbench. Alas, that right now is outside my budget and equipment. (No tablesaw, jointer or planer, and no intention to get one at this point.) So I opted for this instead, and could not be happier with its functionality. The torsion box gives it rigidity. But yes, I built a sitting bench/torsion box out of 1/2 ply sides and 1/4 inch skin. Super light, and also very rigid. People are constantly amazed at how light and strong a well-built torsion box can be.

Vince, thanks. I used about 2 1/2 sheets of ply and 1/2 sheet of MDF. You could probably build something lighter and shorter (this is 6 feet long) out of a single sheet. Thing weighs probably more than 200 pounds. I can barely lift one end an inch off the floor.

View swirt's profile


5645 posts in 3887 days

#4 posted 08-30-2020 01:45 AM

Looks to be very useful.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Grumpy's profile


26702 posts in 4766 days

#5 posted 09-09-2020 04:49 AM

Nice job and congratulations on your ‘Daily Top 3’ award.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

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