• Advertise with us
Project by MayflowerDescendant posted 02-22-2011 09:13 AM 6700 views 57 times favorited 37 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After years of “making do” with a less-than-adequate bench arrangement, I decided to build myself a solid workbench. I definitely wanted to integrate into the design a number of drawers (of varying depths) to store my fine hand / bench tools. Here’s what I came up with. I did not follow any plan per se. I simply designed in the finer points from mutliple examples and certain features that I have grown to appreciate with experience.

The bench top is 3.5 inches thick (double layer of 3/4-inch plywood + 1-3/4 -inch hard maple benchtop block + 1/4-inch hardboard) and measures 74-inches wide by 38-inches deep. The bench top is wrapped in straight-grain Douglas Fir and just proud of the maple block top (by 3/16 of an inch) to hold the sacrificial 1/4-inch hardboard from moving around. Total bench height is 37-inches.

The base unit is 66-inches wide by 30-inches deep, allowing for a 4-inch overhang all the way around the top (nice for clamping). The very bottom of the unit is a 3/4-inch plywood torsion box design that is wrapped again in 3/4-inch birch plywood for a nice exterior surface appearance (as is the entire cabinet, drawer unit face frames and overlay drawer fronts).

The drawer chest features 3 columns of 4 drawers of increasing depths (2.5, 3.0, 4.0 and 4.75-inches in depth). The drawers on the left and right are 20-inches wide, the bank of drawers in the middle are 15-inches wide. All drawers are 22-inches deep (into the chest). Drawer sides, fronts, back and front overlay are 3/4-inch birch ply. Drawer bottoms are 1/4-inch birch ply.

I love an open shelf immediately below the benchtop to keep clamps (or other tools) at the ready when the bench top needs to be clear. Hence, in the pictures you will see a 5-inch high, open shelf, immediately below the top. (The open shelf has a divider in the middle, running from front to back, providing additional support to the top).

The fourth picture shows what the sides of the bench cabinet look like and the sixth picture shows the back of the base cabinet (“street view”) as well as the sacrificial hardboard in place.

The quick release steel bench vise is from Lee Valley (10G04.13). It’s jaws are 10.5 inches wide, with a maximum opening of 15-inches. I have increased the width of those jaws to 16-inches by attaching two, 1.5-inch thick, machined blocks of Douglas Fir. As such, the maximum opening is reduced to 12 inches (15 – 1.5 -1.5). I have recently secured a piece of 1/4-inch thick, smooth leather, to make a set of jaw liners that will slip over the wooden jaws (to hold any delicate pieces). I also used Lee Valley’s heavy-duty steel casters (set of 4 – 00K20.10). The 4-inch, brass-plated, drawer handles are also from Lee Valley (01W36.10).

Stainless steel screws were used throughout the construction and the exterior finish is 3 coats of Minwax’s Helmsman indoor/outdoor (semi gloss) Spar Urethane.

In the not-too-distant future, I can see myself adding the Veritas Quick-release, sliding tail vise (05G30.01), on the right front corner. It is at that time when I will probably add some dog holes too!

This was a FUN and worthwhile project to build. Yes, that first nick, dent or scratch is going to hurt. Next task – loading it up with all my hand / bench tools!

Thanks for looking. Any questions, just ask. Play safe!

-- Glen - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

37 comments so far

View Jim's profile


254 posts in 5095 days

#1 posted 02-22-2011 09:28 AM

Wow nice job Glen!!

-- Jim in Langley BC Canada ---

View michaelkaragiozis's profile


7 posts in 4852 days

#2 posted 02-22-2011 09:41 AM

Great design and build. Need to build one myself.

View steliart's profile


2895 posts in 4139 days

#3 posted 02-22-2011 12:19 PM

very nice bench

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions !!!

View ncdon's profile


220 posts in 4327 days

#4 posted 02-22-2011 12:19 PM

Glenn, that is a bench you can be VERY proud of. Great work.

-- Don, North Carolina, Working full time at retired.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 4371 days

#5 posted 02-22-2011 12:35 PM

I WANT ONE!! Wow, this is awesome! So many drawers and so beautifully constructed. The open shelf is a great feature, too. Beautiful!


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Gator's profile


383 posts in 5127 days

#6 posted 02-22-2011 01:09 PM

Very nice Glen.. there will be a lot of envious woodworkers looking at this bench, me included.

Great job.


-- Master designer of precision sawdust and one of a kind slivers.

View John Cleary's profile

John Cleary

74 posts in 4234 days

#7 posted 02-22-2011 02:52 PM

great looking bench!

-- crumbs make bread--

View aschmidy2003's profile


49 posts in 4796 days

#8 posted 02-22-2011 03:23 PM


-- Psalm19:1

View sedcokid's profile


2738 posts in 5049 days

#9 posted 02-22-2011 03:37 PM

What a great look’in bench, I like the drawers!

Thanks for sharing

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View drbyte's profile


848 posts in 5513 days

#10 posted 02-22-2011 03:55 PM

Great job but what are the casters for? After that’s loaded you’ll need a tow-motor to move it! Even empty it looks quite heavy duty (and heavy), should last several life times!! If your children and grandchildren don’t take to wood working maybe they can use it for a fine dining room table!

-- Dennis, WV

View ND2ELK's profile


13494 posts in 5225 days

#11 posted 02-22-2011 04:36 PM

Great looking bench. Very nicely done and designed. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5669 days

#12 posted 02-22-2011 04:37 PM

Fantastic looking bench!

One of these days I will get around to building my own, but I have wondered about casters. My limited space makes the idea of mobility very attractive, but I’m afraid it would then be impossible to get that really solid feel you want for things like hand-planing.

Keep us poeted on how that works out for you.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View GaryD's profile


623 posts in 4820 days

#13 posted 02-22-2011 05:26 PM

Great Job Glen, been thinking the same kind for me need the drawers to store the handtools/ small power tools. Really nice work. Congrats

-- Gary, Little River,SC I've Learned that the Lord didn't do it all in one day and neither can I

View ~Julie~'s profile


623 posts in 4485 days

#14 posted 02-22-2011 05:42 PM

Great bench Glen and well planned out.
Enjoy using it!

-- ~Julie~

View tweezersman1's profile


24 posts in 4576 days

#15 posted 02-22-2011 06:03 PM

Very nice. This will be a bench for life time.


showing 1 through 15 of 37 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