Moravian Workbench

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Project by grovemadman posted 03-21-2021 12:43 PM 1254 views 2 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The Moravian WorkbenchA c.1800 historical reproduction of a bench housed at the Old Salem museum in North Carolina and copied by Will Myers

This is a bench of a lifetime which took three months to build and roughly 300+ hours to complete.

Types of tools used: This bench was built mostly with hand tools without the luxury of having a bench. I used this as an experience to increase hand tool skill level and ALL joinery was completed with hand tools only. I made the top first and used Toughbuilt C700 saw horses as a temporary bench top to make the rest of the bench until I could use the actual bench to build the rest. I did use a table saw to rip lengthy stock to size and I did use an orbital sander and a 12” sliding compound miter saw for cutting the ends of the bench square and the angles for the bottom of the leg assemblies. Everything else was done with a variety of hand tools including but not limited to Hand planes, various chisels and gouges, saws and a few tools I made along the way to complete the build including a bow saw and a rabbet plane. The top was flattened using hand planes, and card scrapers.

Types of wood used: Hard maple(top, vise screw and nut, parallel guide), African Mahogany(vise chop, tool tray sides and lamp trolley, Padauk(Garter key for vise screw and tusk key wedges), Douglas fir construction lumber(undercarriage). The bottom of the tool tray is clear white pine.

Types of joints used: Half lap dovetail, Through half lap mortise and tenon, Bridle joint, Through mortise and tenon wedged tusk key joint(Undercarriage leg assemblies) blind mortise and tenon joints(chop support) Tongue and groove half lap and notched dovetail(tool tray) The holes for the chop and chop support were made using a brace and bit with a series of holes and then chopped out with chisels and gouges.

Features of this bench: This bench is finished with two coats of boiled linseed oil and one coat of Howard’s citrus wax. The bench can be assembled/disassembled in under two minutes. The Tail vise assembly can be fully disassembled or left as one unit for transport. The top is 8/4 hard maple laminated and flattened on top to less than five thousandths of an inch for registering wood from. The tool tray is easily removable for emptying any debris which may accumulate. The tool tray mounts with a couple of cleats, which keep the tray from sliding around. Dog holes are drilled for using bench dogs or holdfasts and the undercarriage serves as a convenient holder for the holdfasts and also for holding longer stock in the tail vise. It also features a magnifying lamp and a sliding trolley which travels the length of the tool tray and can be quickly set aside if needed. Leather was applied to the vise chop and chop support to give the tail vise extra grip and it holds extremely solid with minimal clamping pressure; an extra tug of the vise handle ensures that you can literally drag the bench around the shop with the stock clamped in the vise!

This bench is extremely versatile and rock solid, the bench top alone weighs roughly one hundred pounds and total weight I estimate is about 225 lbs. The bench measures 6’ in length and is 24” wide and I may add a tail vise in the future, but for now a crow foot and holdfasts seem to work well with homemade pop-up spring loaded bench dogs. The vise screw kit is from Lake Erie tools in Pennsylvania and is the 2X kit and it works impressively. Not a cheap bench to make using the materials I chose but I shouldn’t have to make it again in my lifetime!! Below are more pictures of the bench.

Thanks for viewing!

-- "It is the job of the woodworker to hide his mistakes and keep a tight set of lips about them!"--Chuck

24 comments so far

View Eric's profile


1366 posts in 955 days

#1 posted 03-21-2021 01:16 PM

That looks like one sturdy bench. Well done. Also looks to nice the work on.

-- Eric, building the dream

View grovemadman's profile


961 posts in 4854 days

#2 posted 03-21-2021 01:36 PM

Thanks Eric, but actually I have been using it for about a month or so. This is what it looks like cleaned up. I use sacrificial boards underneath anything I chop or drill. It has some bench furniture which I didn’t picture like a bench hook and a shooting board. I left a plane stop I made in the tool tray when I took pictures. I have a crow foot as well.

-- "It is the job of the woodworker to hide his mistakes and keep a tight set of lips about them!"--Chuck

View Underdog's profile


1659 posts in 3117 days

#3 posted 03-21-2021 01:44 PM

How did you make the vice screw?

Gorgeous Bench! I’m envious!

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View grovemadman's profile


961 posts in 4854 days

#4 posted 03-21-2021 02:05 PM

I purchased the vise screw kit from Lake Erie Tools. It isn’t cheap but it’s worth every penny, I can assure you of that. You can build a bench just like this… go to and buy the Moravian workbench video by Will Myers and Joshua Farnsworth. It walks you through step by step on how to build the bench. Mine turned out as nice as the one they make in the video Jim. You can too, so no need to be envious. These vise screws are turned on a machinist lathe I believe rather than a woodworkers lathe so the Acme threads are really accurate. It is the only part of the bench that I didn’t make. The quality is top notch and sometimes you gotta know when you’re licked. hahaha The screw kit is $275 plus shipping.

-- "It is the job of the woodworker to hide his mistakes and keep a tight set of lips about them!"--Chuck

View controlfreak's profile


2108 posts in 683 days

#5 posted 03-21-2021 02:23 PM

Very nice looking build! I hope you enjoy it as much as I am enjoying mine. I recommend the wagon vise that Will Myers makes and sells on his site. I think I may a second row of holes like you have done. I love the colors the different woods add.

View theoldfart's profile


12605 posts in 3533 days

#6 posted 03-21-2021 02:26 PM

Fine bench build. The Lake Erie screw is well worth the price, I bought mine before they came out with the 2x model. Maybe you could post a few pics over at the Workbench Smackdown thread. Again great build.

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

View grovemadman's profile


961 posts in 4854 days

#7 posted 03-21-2021 02:38 PM

Thanks CF! I am looking at the HNT Gordon Tail vise, It has good reviews and it is easy to install… Tom Fidgen uses one. I don’t remember seeing your bench posted< I’ll have to look on your page.

At some point Old Fart I will make my way over there and thanks for the kind words, These benches become a part of us after the time we spend building them.

-- "It is the job of the woodworker to hide his mistakes and keep a tight set of lips about them!"--Chuck

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


9187 posts in 3491 days

#8 posted 03-21-2021 03:17 PM

Beautiful bench, well done!!

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Tom's profile


269 posts in 973 days

#9 posted 03-21-2021 03:22 PM

Great work bench! I made one too and it is a good sturdy bench. Great that you used hand tools. Very rewarding to do it that way. Good exercise too.

I have a few additional things on mine. You can find them on my LJ blog. :)

-- Tom

View 987Ron's profile


1090 posts in 398 days

#10 posted 03-21-2021 03:48 PM

Good looking bench. Wood screw is a nice item.

-- Ron

View grovemadman's profile


961 posts in 4854 days

#11 posted 03-21-2021 04:00 PM

Thanks Tom. I will check it out! I have some bench furniture I did not include but I do have some more ideas for this bench. Right now I am grateful I have a proper bench to do work on from here on out. I’ll be sure to check out your bench!

-- "It is the job of the woodworker to hide his mistakes and keep a tight set of lips about them!"--Chuck

View Planeman40's profile


1546 posts in 3843 days

#12 posted 03-21-2021 04:20 PM

Excellent work! You are going to have a lifetime of enjoyment from this. Years ago I built the workbench featured in one of the very first issues of Fine Woodworking magazine. No plans, just an isometric drawing. One of the best things I ever did! I use it constantly.

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

View Peteybadboy's profile


3377 posts in 3031 days

#13 posted 03-21-2021 04:23 PM

Love the bench. fantastic job on it! I just bought a similar mag/light!

-- Petey

View James E McIntyre's profile

James E McIntyre

1267 posts in 2374 days

#14 posted 03-21-2021 04:37 PM

Wow. Awesome build! Like the sliding light. As a matter of fact I like everything about it. Work of art.
For the first few years you’ll be afraid to put a dent on.

-- James E McIntyre

View Sylvain's profile


1248 posts in 3581 days

#15 posted 03-21-2021 05:00 PM

Very clean workbench made to a high standard.

I have started to make a Moravian workbench for the son. I am using recycled wood (from an old pine pick-nic bench for most of it). It will certainly not be as nice as yours but nevertheless functional.
For the two leg-frames, I have decided not to make the middle rail for which I don’t see the necessity. I will use through tenon for the low rail which, for me, are better than those lapped dovetails (especially in the absence of the middle rail).
The top will be flattened by hand. I will certainly not claim “to 5/1000 of an inch”.

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

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