Workbench Finished

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Project by john_az posted 02-23-2012 11:02 PM 4144 views 11 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just completed my workbench. The design was based from a Chris Schwarz design (24 hour workbench). It took me a good while longer to complete. The entire bench is made from home center materials (hemlock fir, douglas fir, birch plywood and MDF). The top was made from laminating 2 layers of the birch plywood and 2 layers of MDF. The top was edge banded with milled down douglas fir 2×4s. I used 2 bed bolts on each end of the long stretchers and through tenons on the short stretchers. This seems to have made it quite sturdy. I placed the top facing edge flush with the front legs to facilitate easy clamping of panels/boards to the front. The sliding deadman will also help with that. I purchased the Wilton and Columbian vises from a Lumberjocks member (rustynails). I flush mounted the rear jaws of each vise to make clamping things to the edge or face of the bench easy. This sure beats my old bench which was a wobbly contraption without a vise. It was often frustrating to attempt to work on anything when you can’t secure it.

-- John, Phoenix-AZ

13 comments so far

View yrob's profile


340 posts in 4702 days

#1 posted 02-23-2012 11:08 PM

Its looking really good. A perfectly serviceable bench!

-- Yves

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4626 days

#2 posted 02-23-2012 11:08 PM

Very cool bench John it looks great. extra nice work.


View PineInTheAsh's profile


404 posts in 4317 days

#3 posted 02-23-2012 11:38 PM

Greetings John,

I particularly like the top. You’ve bypassed the labor and sweat of squaring and laminating studs—creating a bench that is solid, functional, and oh so beautiful.

If I may, a few questions. What are the overall dimensions? What size are the dog holes? What are the dogs in the vises? Looks like metal rod?? What’s the block in lower stretcher (bottom left of front vise)?

My genuine thanks and congrats.

All the best,

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 3355 days

#4 posted 02-24-2012 12:16 AM

Nw that’s a nice workbench, may you get many projects done using it.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View john_az's profile


105 posts in 3420 days

#5 posted 02-24-2012 02:44 AM


The dimensions are: Height: 35” Length: 68-3/4” Depth: 26-3/4”. The dog holes are 3/4”. I drilled them to a depth of about 2 inches with a plunge router with an edge guide using a 3/4” upcut spiral bit. This got the dog holes off to a good start (perpendicular) and then I finished them with a drill and a 3/4” spade bit. The metal rods in the vise dogs are aluminum bench dogs. They work really well and you can get them via amazon (search for big horn bench dogs). The block you see on the lower stretcher is like a bench hook that slides along the bottom stretcher so the you can rest a work piece on the lower ledge of it and clamp it to the stretcher. Since it hangs on the stretcher and slides, I call it a “sliding hangman” – ha ha. Hope that this is the info you needed and thanks for the nice comments.

-- John, Phoenix-AZ

View Buche's profile


71 posts in 3998 days

#6 posted 02-24-2012 03:50 AM

Very nice bench. I built my top pretty much in the exact way. Heavy, flat, quick to build, and a lot cheaper than the hardwood option.

View rustynails's profile


951 posts in 3578 days

#7 posted 02-24-2012 04:12 AM

John, the bench looks really good. It will defiantly will get the job done. How did you end up mounting the vises? Lags or thru bolts?

View john_az's profile


105 posts in 3420 days

#8 posted 02-24-2012 04:32 AM

Thanks Richard. I ended up mounting with lag bolts (3/8×3). The vises also have counter sunk holes in the rear jaw face and I put #14 wood screws in them. So the vises are held in from the bottom with the 3/8×3 lag bolts and in front with two #14×2 screws. They are attached solid. I also put a 3/8 inch piece of hardwood over the rear jaw and this is flush with the bench top edge. I glued up a couple of 4/4 pieces of country maple for the front jaws. They are definitely heavy duty vises and I’m quite happy with them. Thanks again.

-- John, Phoenix-AZ

View LucasinBC's profile


62 posts in 4120 days

#9 posted 02-24-2012 04:12 PM

Looks nice!

I built my version of the same type of bench based on Schwarz’s design last year and I have never regretted it. It was my first ever woodworking project and I just barely knew what I was doing. I said the exact same thing as you when I was done building it – way better than the crappy work table I was using before. I even used my deep freeze on a few occasions because my former work-mate bench was so poor.

Great ideas with the MDF / plywood laminations. I went ahead and face laminated a ton of douglas fir for my top and I have to say, especially as a beginner, that is much more trying on the nerves…I maybe should have gone your route instead.

Well done overall – hope it serves you well!

-- Making mistakes is essential in learning woodworking.

View ChrisMc45's profile


117 posts in 3909 days

#10 posted 02-24-2012 11:23 PM

my bench wobbles like jello, I see your driver. Very well done. Christopher Schwartz seems to be a source of inspiration for a lot of us.

Your dog hole strategy was clear, I will do the same. Did you find a way to chamfer or countersink the sharp edges on the opening of the dog hole, or just leave them sharp-edges and wear round?

View john_az's profile


105 posts in 3420 days

#11 posted 02-25-2012 05:22 AM

Hi ChrisMc45, I chamfered the dog holes in the bench top using a chamfer bit in my router. The chamfer depth is maybe 3/16 inch. I left the dog holes unchamfered in the vise jaw faces. Perhaps I should do those to.

Just to note yet another newbie thing I learned the hard way: be sure to keep your edge guide on the router so that the router doesn’t move off center when plunging down to chamfer the dog hole. A couple of my chamfers are off center. Not a big deal, but something that you can avoid with an edge guide to help keep the router in place. With the router turned off, center the bit in the hole then proceed. This could have also been done with a small rasp and sand paper.

I was going to build the “Getting Started in Woodworking” bench shown on the Fine Woodworking site until I found this design by Chris Schwarz. I think it is a low cost bench that is highly functional for both power tools and hand tools. With the limited experience that I have, I’ve found that I often need to clean things up with hand tools and some times hand tools are easier to perform certain tasks. The only mortise and tenon joints that I’ve successfully done is by drilling out the mortises on a drill press and then finishing with a chisel. I would also like to try my hand at dove tailing with hand tools. This bench will allow me to easily hold work pieces on edge securely to do that. Believe me, it is really nice to have a real bench that doesn’t wobble and has the facilities to securely hold things down so that you can work on them instead of them working on you :)

If you’re interested in building this bench, the plan is at:

-- John, Phoenix-AZ

View supercubber-bad's profile


17 posts in 3334 days

#12 posted 03-11-2012 09:45 PM

Really nice job, man!

View jdawgg's profile


6 posts in 422 days

#13 posted 02-13-2020 04:51 PM

Great looking bench! How has the top held up over time? Do you recall the specifics on the birch plywood used like number of plies or how thick the top ply was? I’m curious how the plywood works out if it gets beat up in the course of regular use.

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