Paul Sellers Workbench

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Project by Malone posted 12-29-2020 12:46 AM 1341 views 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been wanting to build a workbench for some time and this year I decided life is short, build your bench. It is based on the Paul Sellers design with some small modifications. Most obviously, it has two different-sized laminated tops. This seemed to me like a good way to have a larger effective surface than just the one 12-inch top without getting too huge or losing the tool well. Also I used plywood for the well board because I wanted the tool well to be fairly deep. Deep enough to lay a plane down it without protruding above the top. Another reason for the plywood is to make it easier to try out different tool-hole configurations. I added some ribs underneath to make it stronger and painted it because the plywood was not a good match with the rest of the bench. I used southern yellow pine, by the way, and finished with Tried and True Danish oil.

I haven’t added any vises yet. I might. Or I may add dog holes and try working viseless. We’ll see.

This was my largest project so far, my first workbench, and my first foray into hand tool woodworking (only used my table saw for long rip cuts). Not everything that’s supposed to be square is absolutely, perfectly square. Or perfectly parallel or perfectly flat. But it’s pretty darn close. I have really enjoyed building it and I look forward to using it this coming year.

7 comments so far

View BigAl98's profile


256 posts in 4046 days

#1 posted 12-29-2020 02:31 AM

I built a bench several years ago. It was the “21st Century Workbench” by the legendary Robert Lang. It too is a split bench with a tray (or rather a series of trays) in the middle. It easily comes apart, and its been moved across the country. My trays are very shallow…maybe a inch? And they easily lift out with finger holes when I need to clean them (amazing saw dust collectors they are) or I need to get to the middle for clamping purchase. I use all sides of my work bench so a middle tray is preferable to me.

And like you, its one of my biggest and earliest projects… In my shop its my pride and joy. I was lucky, I got a butcher top(96” long) from Ikea on sale and the top has served me very well with no complaints about flatness or heft. I put in T Track for a hold down system – routed into the top, but I also put in 3/4” round dog holes too to have the best of both. Outside of the top, I used SYP for the legs and cross braces. Heavy enough to not move when I plane a long board, light enough to move if I have too….but seldom have too.

I’ve been meaning to put in a sliding dead man, but haven’t gotten around to it. The bench has a tray about 3” from the bottom, but that seems to just be a place to throw stuff in, that I never seem to use much. Wish I could more use of that for better purpose.

Good luck on yours.

-- Al,Midwest -To thine own self be true

View Sylvain's profile


1199 posts in 3506 days

#2 posted 12-29-2020 10:46 AM

It looks very good.
I don’t regret having put a 9” quick release vise on mine.
If one follows Paul Sellers, it is easier to have a set-up similar to his.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View controlfreak's profile


1756 posts in 608 days

#3 posted 12-29-2020 01:20 PM

Great bench! After looking at your proud through tenons I almost regret making mine flush. It will be interesting to see what you decide on for work holding.

View swirt's profile


6000 posts in 3979 days

#4 posted 12-29-2020 02:29 PM

That is a great looking bench.

-- Galootish log blog,

View therealSteveN's profile


7222 posts in 1581 days

#5 posted 12-29-2020 04:50 PM

Enjoy your new bench. You won’t be sorry for building it.

-- Think safe, be safe

View muesli's profile


510 posts in 2515 days

#6 posted 12-30-2020 02:46 PM

Congrats to your great workbench! It will serve you really well for a long period of time.

I build my first workbench some years ago with just handtools except the cordless screwdriver. Planing and building was a really satisfying process for me. And even though I didn’t build a real Sellers-bench, I learned a ton by his video series. I would really say, he just made it possible for me, to build my bench with handtools. And I took lots of inspiration from Paul, the most beneficial in my case was choosing the hight, as he recommended.

-- Uwe from Germany.

View Grumpy's profile


26811 posts in 4858 days

#7 posted 12-31-2020 11:11 PM

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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