Outside the Box Workbench, This One is Different !

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Project by shipwright posted 08-30-2012 01:30 AM 53354 views 251 times favorited 104 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the new bench I’ve been building for the last couple of weeks. I have to say that I’ve never had one of these and quite frankly, never understood what their attraction was. Then one day it dawned on me that I had spent my career building big things with power tools and that these were for building smaller things with hand tools. Then it all made sense and I decided I would build one.

My thought process for this sort of thing is a little different than some. I don’t ask myself ” How are these things made?” and go looking at examples or scouting for plans. My process starts with “What does it have to do?” and then plans the most interesting way to accomplish those goals. That and I love reinventing the wheel.

To make a long story a little shorter, I ended up with a rather different bench.

This may be a bench for you if:

1) You want a solid bench that’s easy to build with simple tools

2) You want a heavy rigid bench but don’t want to break the bank buying hardwood and hardware.

3) You enjoy having something a little different.

This is not the bench for you if you see building your bench as an opportunity to learn / practice fine joinery and at the end of the journey have a beautiful hardwood masterpiece as the centerpiece of your shop. I have nothing but admiration for those who view it this way…. but this isn’t the bench for you.

In my mind a good bench of this type was to hold work in vertical and horizontal positions that would allow work to be done on both the faces and the edges. It had to be heavy and it had to be rigid. If possible it should look nice in the bargain. Above all it had to have a very powerful grip. If I failed in that , I would truly fail…. I don’t think I did.

This is getting long and as I sense a construction blog coming on I will cut to the photos and save the long explanations for the said treatise.

The photos show:

1) Planing a surface with the board held in one of the “8 Degree Vertical” wedge wagon vices.

2) Planing an edge with the portable Deadman and the “8 Degree Vertical” wedge leg vice.

3) Planing a surface held in the two wagon vices.

4) Pretty shot of the wagons.

5) The plywood “guts” of the half-tops.

6) The plywood “guts”of the legs.

By now you will have seen that this bench is really plywood and only the trim is hardwood. That wood incidentally is arbutus (madrone) and it is used for the front, back and end boards and vices as well as the cosmetic top. The legs have been shamelessly veneered to look like solid walnut.

I have done a fair bit of pretty-ing up here but the main structure of this bench can almost be said to be buildable with a skilsaw and a hammer.

The structural joints are all interlaid layers of plywood that, when all assembled, resemble and have the strength of perfectly fitted finger joints but in any one layer they are all just butt joined.

That’s enough. I have far to much to tell about this bench and it’s vices to bore you with here. Those who are interested can follow the blog and get bored to sleep for several nights at their own risk.
Suffice to say that I think this concept will be of value to some of you and I hope that this won’t be the last ”V8” I see here.

I have a sketchup of this but as our resident SU savant (Rance) is reworking it for me I think I’ll wait. You would only be frustrated by my poor job on it.

EDIT: Rance’s excellent Sketchup is posted in the last blog entry here.

A full construction blog on this bench starts here.

Thanks for looking in and please ask questions, comment or criticize.


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

104 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118321 posts in 5040 days

#1 posted 08-30-2012 01:34 AM

Wow Paul this is one cool and creative bench ,cool job.


View peteg's profile


4438 posts in 4286 days

#2 posted 08-30-2012 01:41 AM

Wow Paul, for you “woodies” this would have to be a godsend, another fabulous shared project along with the know how to.

:: )))


-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


792 posts in 4736 days

#3 posted 08-30-2012 01:45 AM


That is a beautifully done workbench. There are no apologies required for this not being “fine joinery”! It is, in my humble opinion. Anyone, I’m sure, would be proud to call this bench theirs! Well done, sir!


-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View Mauricio's profile


7170 posts in 4614 days

#4 posted 08-30-2012 01:48 AM

Great concept, I’m thinking you dont need to move the pins very often is that right?

I’m also amazed that this bench’s core is plywood. Way to think outside the box.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 4138 days

#5 posted 08-30-2012 01:48 AM

Fantastic build!!!

I will ply you (pun intended) with questions as they come to me as I read your future build blog…...

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 5292 days

#6 posted 08-30-2012 01:52 AM

Paul, truly a marvel of engineering and a thing of beauty! What a great design and execution. Of course, the logo is just grand. I think we will see many of these design features and techniques reapplied by others; but of course, you will always be credited with being first. Perhaps this will become known as the Miller 8 deg Wedge Bench.

Thank you for sharing your imagination and design so freely with us!

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 4385 days

#7 posted 08-30-2012 01:57 AM

Futuristic when we use the simple machines. Nowadays all we can see are machine while this one is back to the future. LOL.
Thanks for posting.

-- Bert

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6883 posts in 5442 days

#8 posted 08-30-2012 02:07 AM



-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Adam Baird's profile

Adam Baird

67 posts in 3582 days

#9 posted 08-30-2012 02:14 AM

Love the rolling leg vise. I’m sure that comes in handy. Nice work!

-- Adam from Indiana -

View jaysonic's profile


219 posts in 3605 days

#10 posted 08-30-2012 02:24 AM

Very nice! What’s the valley in the table top for?

View thedude50's profile


3613 posts in 3941 days

#11 posted 08-30-2012 02:25 AM

I like that it is unique I like the way it looks but it is not my dream bench but i would not kick it out of the shop I would prefer a screw vise myself I think that is really why its not for me but what is important is it meets your needs and it will do that. I give you 5 stars for originality and 5 stars FOR FIT AND FINISH It looks really well made it makes me think i could have got by with a soft wood bench but that would not be my dream bench. My wood guy has owned his shop over 40 years and he tells me today’s woodworker waits almost 20 years before he thinks he needs a bench. I hope this is not what we pass along to the young guys. I know i never saw the need for a great bench but i did get really tired of a cheep store bought bench. One that would not do the clamping your talking about. As always your ideas are unique and your execution is top shelf. If this bench doesn’t inspire a guy on the fence to build a bench he should not be a woodworker. Great work.

-- Please check out my new stores and

View rance's profile


4282 posts in 4623 days

#12 posted 08-30-2012 02:37 AM

Can you imagine 200 years from now, a young man that has been eyeballing this bench for years at his uncle’s house. Now being passed down, he now has the pleasure of picking it up for his own lifetime of use. You’ve built a legacy Paul.

I have already been inspired by this behemoth. The lap/finger-jointed plywood looks like a possible alternative for constructing the woodgears Bandmill I have the plans for. Time will tell.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View dakremer's profile


2771 posts in 4554 days

#13 posted 08-30-2012 02:47 AM

You are my woodworking hero I think. :)

(if it’s alright, I’m going to PM you with some more boat building questions)

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View dnick's profile


986 posts in 3845 days

#14 posted 08-30-2012 02:50 AM

I really like that bench. That’s a great job.

-- dnick, North Hollywood, Ca.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5515 days

#15 posted 08-30-2012 02:58 AM

Paul, Here you go again! LOL

That is one Super Work Bench!

It has ALL of the features one could ask for… and then some!

There is ONLY one thing wrong with it… (not really)
... It’s SO NICE I would be afraid of messing it up with glue, stain, screw holes, etc. etc. like I do now…
... I would be treating that bench like a wonderful piece of Furniture!

BUT, if you can design, build, and use it, I’m sure that I could learn to do it (use it)... LOL

Thank you very much for sharing another astounding Super Project!

After your last masterpiece, I thought it would be a little while before we saw ANOTHER one!

NOT TRUE… while you were performing your last feat, you were quietly working on THIS Super Bench!

I applaud you standing as high as I can stand!

You, Paul, are THE MAN!

Thank you again!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

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