Short Block V8, a Small Beginner's Bench with Attitude

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Project by shipwright posted 12-05-2013 12:21 AM 24128 views 111 times favorited 57 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a simple but solid workbench for my small shop in Az. I designed it specifically to be build-able with minimal tools, simple skills and readily available materials. That said it includes a leg vice, a wagon vice and holdfasts. It lacks only size and in my case that’s an advantage. It is also easily portable as lifting the wagon vice end brings the wheels on the other end into contact with the floor for quick relocation. Total cost is around $100 without looking for bargains. (holdfasts extra)

This is a rigid, very solid workbench but the basic bench can be built with a skilsaw, a router, a drill, and a few hand tools from two sheets of 3/4 plywood. The vices require a bandsaw and a table saw but cost only a few dollars to make up so take the money you save and buy a used ShopSmith.

There is a detailed, step by step construction blog here that includes a sketchup model complete with exploded views and plywood sheet layout for cuts.
This one is 2’ X 4’ but the plans are easily expandable.

It is my hope that this design will help beginning woodworkers produce a sturdy workbench upon which they can learn and assemble the skills required to enjoy the hobby to the fullest and maybe even build a big beautiful bench later on.

Leg vice upgrade

Thanks for looking in.


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

57 comments so far

View TerryDowning's profile


1149 posts in 3192 days

#1 posted 12-05-2013 12:26 AM

Put the smackdown tag on this one!!

Great Bench Paul!!

I’m probably going to steal the wheel Idea!

-- - Terry

View garysharp's profile


119 posts in 4555 days

#2 posted 12-05-2013 12:26 AM

This is a great looking bench. The right size for the job. Thanks for the story so others can use it if they want.

-- Garysharp "When sharpening woodworking tools, good enough,...isn't" “Your life’s complete only when your knowledge passes on”.

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 4957 days

#3 posted 12-05-2013 12:30 AM

Good job Paul!!
That looks like a hefty little rascal. Very nice indeed.
Love the black legs and mobile wheels.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 4999 days

#4 posted 12-05-2013 12:31 AM

Good of you to post this.

View NinjaAssassin's profile


656 posts in 2799 days

#5 posted 12-05-2013 12:32 AM

That’s a pretty sweet bench. Great job!

-- Billy

View BillWyko's profile


416 posts in 4458 days

#6 posted 12-05-2013 12:40 AM

well done Paul, a mini me of your big bench, Be sure to post it in the workbench smackdown thread. This is bad arse.

-- What you listen to is your business...what you hear is ours.

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3323 days

#7 posted 12-05-2013 12:51 AM

Nice! finally a real alternative to a door on some sawhorses that doesn’t involve chopping half blind dovetails, 20 pipe clamps, Chris Schwartz, or “simple” plans that start out with 250/bf of hard maple and $200 vises.

Awesome job! For anyone wondering, I absolutely love my wedge vise. It’s a lot stronger and easier to use than you think it is.

Edit By the way I love the pins for the leg vise. I think I am going to turn some like it for mine


View gbear's profile


540 posts in 5174 days

#8 posted 12-05-2013 12:56 AM

This is a great looking bench, especially for the price. I am wondering what your thought are in regards to using 3/4” mdf instead of plywood.
Thanks for your input.

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View kiefer's profile


5836 posts in 3742 days

#9 posted 12-05-2013 01:02 AM

Nice little basic bench with all the features and mobile too .
It certainly is a doable project for the novice as you said in your blog .
Well done and the blog should be a great resource for many .
Thanks for taking the time to put this all together .

-- Kiefer

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5127 days

#10 posted 12-05-2013 01:09 AM


Thank you for doing a wonderful job of documenting your New short bench project!

Great job!

You can’t ask for any more Simplicity!!
... and beginners really NEED that…

Looks great!

What type of Holdfasts did you use?
Source / Cost?

Thanks again!

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

View Underdog's profile


1655 posts in 3110 days

#11 posted 12-05-2013 01:15 AM

Fantastic! What a great little bench. And you can’t beat that price!

I gotta make one of these.

Thanks Paul for taking the time to work this up and share it with us.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26186 posts in 4180 days

#12 posted 12-05-2013 01:24 AM

Great build, Paul. Now you can put it to use on you projects in Arizona!!


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Schwieb's profile


1916 posts in 4536 days

#13 posted 12-05-2013 01:26 AM


I’ve said it before, I like how you think” and I appreciate very much the detail you are open to share about your work. As a ‘seat of the pants’, make what you need, adapt what you have available, then an engineering student, that became a dentist, I have to love what you have done here, and I do.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 4905 days

#14 posted 12-05-2013 01:41 AM

Paul, there you go, blazing a trail of innovation again! This is a fantastic bench, and I’m sure it will serve you well for many years to come. Thanks too for documenting the build so well in your blog, that was very entertaining!

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

View ScottK's profile


12 posts in 4825 days

#15 posted 12-05-2013 02:57 AM

You make some great stuff.
I need a little bench just like that…...if it wasn’t about 5 F out there, I’d go get started.

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