Modified New Yankee Workshop Workbench

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Project by drmfreek posted 05-16-2013 10:51 AM 22857 views 37 times favorited 36 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had been needing a workbench in my garage for years. Whenever I got to the point of actually assembling anything I was making, all I had was a small Black and Decker vise table. If that was too small, then I first had to slap together something, delaying the original project.

I spent too long treating the project like it was going to be my last workbench ever, until I finally decided I just needed to build something. Then I saw an episode of New Yankee Workshop on Youtube, where Norm builds a workbench. I liked the simplicity and the built in clamping for a range of sizes and the cost. (I had been looking at solid top Roubu style up till this point). I found his book at my library and studied the plans and made my own version.

My main changes were dropping the side storage tray, because I felt I would only fill it with junk at all times, and I would rather have more bench surface in the same space. I added a second shelf on the bottom, spacing the two shelves just enough to fit my miter saw and planer underneath the bench. I found a hand wheel at my work instead of the standard dowel handle. I put wheels under the bottom shelf and installed some Rockler lifting levelers. Finally, I put two T-slots in the top for clamps and bench cookies and whatever else I could think of.

A note for anyone who uses Norm’s book; the detail of the benchdog has a lot of errors. But my day-job is drawing in AutoCAD, so I drew up my own. The building of it took me 3 vacation days in the garage and a few weekends. The cost was around $150-175. Down the road I plan to add a air-hose reel to the underside of the overhang, and possibly one or two more T-slots since these two are a little far apart for some applications.

36 comments so far

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 3435 days

#1 posted 05-16-2013 11:47 AM

Beautiful job! I built this bench as part of a blog series that I was (hiatus) working through.

I REALLY like your version. Very well done!

My only problem I have had with mine is that it is a little on the light side for hand tool work. When I get into boards with my planes the thing scoots all over the shop.

The bench dog system Norm has in the design works wonderfully.

I think your T-track idea is great as well.

One thing I’ve found is that a face vice or two would be nice along the front for edge jointing. Not a big deal if you own a jointer and don’t do your jointing by hand, but still a nice to have.

I also axed the storage tray – between saw dust and general shop crap it would have driven me insane.

I also noticed the errors in the book. Actually, several of the projects in the book have errors. The instructions are decent, but I would definitely recommend using them as a starting point, plotting out all of your own cut lists to make sure it all makes sense and will go together correctly.

-- Steve

View drmfreek's profile


19 posts in 3934 days

#2 posted 05-16-2013 01:02 PM

Thanks for the kind words, Steve. Your bench looks strong like a tank! I do like the phrase you used; a low cost way to find what you do and don’t like in a workbench. I felt the same way when I finally chose this one.

I think storing the miter saw and planer in the bottom has helped with the weight issue a bit (especially the planer). Also the lifting feet I have use rubber soles, so they are less prone to sliding. Maybe if you put some no-slip rubber under yours? Beyond that I later want to either find a way to make a cavity under the bottom shelf that I fill with sand, or bolt some steel to give some heft to the bench.

You have the exact vise that Harbor Freight no longer sells! I had an opportunity to pick one up and waited. Too late now. Northern Tool has one that doesn’t look quite as nice. But I do want a face vise someday.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3931 days

#3 posted 05-16-2013 01:05 PM

Good build and some great additions
Yes the drawings in the book leave a lot to be desired

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Brandon's profile


4381 posts in 4026 days

#4 posted 05-16-2013 01:24 PM

Nice! I like your handwheel on the wagon vise.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Jerome's profile


161 posts in 3204 days

#5 posted 05-16-2013 03:20 PM


The bench looks like it is working well for you already! I too have been watching the New Yankee Workshop on YouTube. I saw the plans and dvd on sale online for $25 here.

Did your plans come with a materials list? I plan on building a similar version as well as the fixed Miter station Norm built. Would you be willing to share your plans?

-- Jerome, Marietta, GA

View drmfreek's profile


19 posts in 3934 days

#6 posted 05-16-2013 03:24 PM

Jerome, the New Yankee book from my library had a very basic material list, though it was vague on some points. If you were interested in them, I would gladly share the plans I made for my own version by sending you a PDF or the CAD files (which you could view/modify as you saw fit using a CAD reader or a program like DraftSight (free)).


View moke's profile


1759 posts in 3851 days

#7 posted 05-16-2013 05:09 PM

Very well done, very economical but extremely functional!!

-- Mike

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

583 posts in 3453 days

#8 posted 05-16-2013 06:20 PM

Keith, great bench. I’d be interested n both the PDF and cad file if you don’t mind. mprzybylski at gmail dot com. Many thanks.

-- Matt, Arizona

View sgmdwk's profile


308 posts in 2947 days

#9 posted 05-16-2013 07:59 PM

Nicely thought out. I’m sure Norm would approve.

-- Dave K.

View Nickdarr's profile


76 posts in 3106 days

#10 posted 05-16-2013 08:09 PM

Nice bench. I like the handwheel idea as well.

-- Darren... Hmmmm, I got nothin.

View Willeh's profile


228 posts in 3414 days

#11 posted 05-17-2013 02:49 AM

Nice, I like the wagon vice.. what hardware did you use??

-- Will, Ontario Canada. "I can do fast, cheap and good, but you can only pick two... "

View je_superfly's profile


74 posts in 3185 days

#12 posted 05-17-2013 03:14 AM

Now that’s a great bench! I really like the handwheel and the t-slot incorporation…very versatile! Well done!

-- -James, Sumerville SC

View hoss12992's profile


4180 posts in 2968 days

#13 posted 05-17-2013 07:34 AM

Great job

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View drmfreek's profile


19 posts in 3934 days

#14 posted 05-17-2013 10:11 AM

The hardware for the wagon vise was a shoulder vise screw from Lee Valley Tools. I took off the original T handle socket and used a hand wheel that is available from McMaster Carr (there was a unused one at my workplace so it was a freebie.)

View parkerdude's profile


182 posts in 4526 days

#15 posted 05-17-2013 09:06 PM

Very nice, I built this bench about 24 years ago. My memory says I saw the plans in a woodworking magazine. I still use it almost daily. I have made a few additions, mostly to hold things vertically and horizontally on edge.

I split wine bottle corks in half and stapled them to the feet of the bench, no more skidding.

I think it’s why I’ve developed into a hand-tool guy. I really don’t like the noise associated with power tools. I have a blended shop, but I try to do it by hand first.

Good luck, many years of good service!


-- dust control

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