English Nicholson Workbench 2.0

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Project by BrettMcD posted 05-12-2013 09:58 PM 12474 views 21 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi, just figured that I would post this workbench. As some of you might notice, it is fairly close to my Nicholson workbench I built a year ago. Often I hear people say if I had it to do over again I would change this, so consider this my second attempt. Workbench is made out of pine from Lowes for a total cost of around $100. I recycled as much wood as I could from the first workbench. Dimensions are 72”X 21”X 37”. Main things that I changed listed below:

1.) Workbench height raised five inches; I haven’t had a sore back since.
2.) Wagon vise added. I decided that I wanted a tail vise bad enough to put one on this bench. I built the vise from scratch using the plans in the Scott Landis workbench book from the section on unusual tail vises. It mentioned in the text that it operated the wrong way. So I ordered a screw with left hand threads and a cast iron wheel. I worked on it off and on for about 4-5 months and a guy at work did all of the metal milling. So all told I have about $170 into the vise build. It works remarkably well; however, if I had to do it over again I would be hard-pressed not to just buy the Bench-crafted and be done with it.
3.) I added additional holes along the front apron and put the top holes at the same height as my front vise bars to help support long stock easily.
4.) All holes drilled will work with either hold-fasts or bench dogs. I drilled a row of holes on back slab to help hold battens for planing.
5.) Added a shelf to help hold tools and provide more storage.
6.) The front vise is now inside the front leg. This made it more stable and I can use the hold fast holes to hold a scrap piece of wood to prevent the face vice from racking.

Those are the major changes. The bench weighs in at 250 pounds. I weighed each sub assembly as I was building it, and when I add a small hand plane chest that should add even more weight. I think it is a keeper and am already really happy with this workbench.

10 comments so far

View bobasaurus's profile


3618 posts in 3827 days

#1 posted 05-12-2013 10:06 PM

That is a very nice workbench, and I’m jealous. What was the final height you settled on, and how tall are you? I’m getting tired of hunching over my low workbench.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View sgmdwk's profile


308 posts in 2515 days

#2 posted 05-12-2013 10:16 PM

A beautiful bench!

-- Dave K.

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2833 days

#3 posted 05-12-2013 10:30 PM

great bench.very nice work and design.well thought out.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View a1Jim's profile


117956 posts in 4220 days

#4 posted 05-12-2013 11:58 PM

Outstanding bench great job.


View BrettMcD's profile


13 posts in 3179 days

#5 posted 05-13-2013 03:24 AM

bobasaurus I am 6’ 3” the workbench is 37 inches high. I found that I lost a little power for planing but not much, however I gained more control and haven’t experienced as much hand plane sniping or crowning the board. So far I have not regretted making the bench higher. It is perfect for most tasks and a touch low for handsawing and joinery work but not to bad hope that helps.

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3297 days

#6 posted 05-13-2013 03:37 AM

I am sure there is one beside being pretty, but can you help me understand the benefit of the angled lap that joins the legs to the skirt. I see it too often to think it’s just an artistic touch.

Nice job on the redux. It’s always a joy to fix the things that bother you.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View NormG's profile


6501 posts in 3646 days

#7 posted 05-13-2013 04:00 AM

Looks great, nice bench, thanks for sharing

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View BrettMcD's profile


13 posts in 3179 days

#8 posted 05-13-2013 04:19 AM

RGtools – Sure the dovetail also helps to hold the apron in place along with the dado down the apron. The benefit that I see to using this joint is that the full width of the dovetailed apron locks into the leg (2.25 inches) instead of just the dado depth which is around 5/8 of an inch. Also I will admit some of it is just workbench bling I wanted it to look like a traditional bench that was handcrafted so it had to have the joint in it for me to want to look at it every day in my shop. I am not sure the half dovetail joint is necessary but it gave me another opportunity to make the bench very solid in case I made the dado too sloppy. This workbench absolutely will not rack period. I can shove my entire body into without any give whatsoever the bench slides before it racks and trust me it doesn’t slide that easy. Hope this help

P.S. by the way I loved your class on the table and have really enjoyed looking at your work

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3297 days

#9 posted 05-13-2013 12:55 PM

Thanks for the explanation Brett, it does make sense that this feature would add some insurance against major joint failure. I have some 2.5” Maple slabs that I intend to convert to 2 Nicholson benches and one Maloof low back chair, so the clarification is helpful since I am still in the design phase. Only 20 months or so before the wood is dry enough to work with; that should give me time to work the kinks out.

Glad you liked the class. I worked very hard to make it comprehensive for that particular table.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3509 days

#10 posted 05-13-2013 01:07 PM

That is one hefty work bench and it will serve you well. Mice work.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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