21st Century Workbench

  • Advertise with us
Project by HorizontalMike posted 03-11-2011 10:28 PM 24082 views 72 times favorited 62 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finally got my first major project completed, Bob Lang’s 21st Century Workbench. I made this version specifically for Lefties, as I put the face vise on the right and tail vise on the left. This turned out to be a very good First Project for me as it exposed me to constructing with tongue and groove, dovetails, and through mortise/tenon joints all in one project, not to mention all the milling of 8/4 Ash and thick laminate glue-ups for the top working surface. Great experience for building those skills for the first time.

One word of caution when tackling this project, the article in October 2008 issue of Popular Woodworking has a number of measurement errors, so pay attention to the SketchUp model for accurate piece measurements. Other than that, this project was pretty straight forward.

Modifications I made from original plans (more than just making it for lefties) include:

1. Face Vise Block—I made the block just over 3in. thick and recessed the screw sleeves 1/2in. to regain some of the vise opening. I had originally wanted to bolt this thing on so that I could remove it and have the ability to send the top through the planer again when it would need re-flattening, however I realized that I was really just over-thinking this and went ahead with a solid glue-up of the block. What I like about the thicker block is that as a laminate, it will have less tendency to warp and I feel that is important in a vise block. Why 3in.?...I originally had a nearly 4in. block but had to plane it down to miss all the dog holes in the top but wanted a maximum glue surface for strength.

2. Tail Vise Block—Here I chose to surface mount the tail vise and build the block out of three cut pieces of Ash. This allowed me to keep my one and only 3.25hp router in the table AND not risk messing up the end of my bench top learning to freehand route 8-). I also think that it will be easier to replace this tail vise block if/when I damage it from clamping something I shouldn’t (like motor parts off my Harley and such).

3. Lower Rail Cleats—I didn’t like the way a smaller cleat screwed to the bottom of the lower rails looked so I decided to use a full width 1”x3” cleat, glued up flush to the front of the lower rail, and planed it smooth. I think it will work great and it gives the lower rail a beefier look to match that of the upper rails.

Several more construction images can be seen here. Just scroll down to see them all.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

62 comments so far

View Tom Huntley's profile

Tom Huntley

58 posts in 4576 days

#1 posted 03-11-2011 10:51 PM

Wow, doing this for a first project, is a little like writing a novel for a freshmen term paper! I’m impressed. Great job!!!

-- Tom Huntley - Rochester Hills, Michigan

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

556 posts in 4393 days

#2 posted 03-11-2011 10:58 PM

Outstanding bench. I hope you have many years of great projects working on it. Thanks for posting.

-- Glen

View Rydell's profile


18 posts in 3974 days

#3 posted 03-11-2011 11:00 PM

Nicely done! I tried a workbench as my first project about 4 years ago, but ultimately stopped due to crappy tools among other things. I’ve got all the wood for it, just haven’t built it yet..

I’ve now got respectable tools and am starting a bit smaller this time, the good ol end grain cutting board by Marc Spagnuolo(thewoodwhisperer).

After seeing your post, I may give the workbench another shot and get all the red oak sitting in my garage out of the corner.

Well done!

View GabrielX's profile


231 posts in 4168 days

#4 posted 03-11-2011 11:10 PM


-- GX

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 5103 days

#5 posted 03-11-2011 11:22 PM

Really nice Mike. I can look at it and see you really worked hard on it. Looks close to perfect.
- JJ

View cwdance1's profile


1164 posts in 4596 days

#6 posted 03-11-2011 11:34 PM

Wonderful quality work, sure wish it was in my shop.

View pickpapa's profile


129 posts in 3997 days

#7 posted 03-11-2011 11:52 PM

Great job MIke. Very impressive.

-- Chuck.. aka Pickpapa`'`'`'`'`'` The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. Heb. 1:3

View Allanwoodworks's profile


112 posts in 4178 days

#8 posted 03-12-2011 12:04 AM

Nice Mike, I’m just finishing up my 21st century workbench. It was my first major project as well and I agree that this made me learn all of the thing that I will be using in future projects. One question though, what did you use for a finish on your bench. Looks great!

-- Ty, Up in Washington

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 4436 days

#9 posted 03-12-2011 12:08 AM

Beautiful work Mike
You got to believe you can make anything now!

View Kerux's profile


812 posts in 5221 days

#10 posted 03-12-2011 12:13 AM

This is just SWEET! I wish I had the time and money to do something like that.


View HorizontalMike's profile


7934 posts in 4251 days

#11 posted 03-12-2011 12:14 AM

I used a wipe-on Tung Oil Finish by Minwax which actually is a blend of Tung Oil and hardening varnishes. 6 coats on the top, trays, and rails and 2-3 coats on the undersides and elsewhere. Johnson’s paste wax as a finish coat on the working surfaces to repel glue sticking (when I finally get around to using this for other projects).

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View CL810's profile


4242 posts in 4325 days

#12 posted 03-12-2011 12:20 AM

Mike, it is flat out beautiful! Great job.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View MayflowerDescendant's profile


414 posts in 4124 days

#13 posted 03-12-2011 12:24 AM

VERY nice. Great job! Grand design (and mods to suit your needs / preferences). Love those Veritas vices.

LJ’s have plenty of workbench designs to choose from. That’s terrific – something for everybody / to accomplish all types of needs, space considerations and budgets out there.

May you enjoy countless hours, days, years of enjoyment on this centerpiece of your shop. THANKS for sharing. Truly inspirational.

-- Glen - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

View mafe's profile


13683 posts in 4426 days

#14 posted 03-12-2011 12:39 AM

Wauuu that is one wonderul bench.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View mafe's profile


13683 posts in 4426 days

#15 posted 03-12-2011 12:44 AM

No I have to give you one more:
I think it’s one of the finest benches I have seen herer on Lj.
Love it!
Just saw you hompage too, nice photos, nice bike.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

showing 1 through 15 of 62 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