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Project Information

A bench fad of 10 years ago is back for redux with yet another variation of Bob Lang's 21st Century workbench.

Bob Lang's design looks a bit like a Holtzapffel with different joinery, a top split into two 12 wide inch beams, and addition of a middle rail that sits six inches below the top. The mid rail acts like a hybrid between an apron and a deadman. Between the top beams are 4 tool trays that are about 24×7 inches. If placed upside down, the tool trays make a continuous surface.

This variation is made from three sheets of 1.5 inch plywood and about 40-50 bf of hickory. The material forced some design changes in thicknesses but otherwise it is fairly close to the original: shy of 8 feet long, 31 inches wide, and 35.5 inches tall. The top is roughly 3 inches thick.

Some design additions include tool racks for chisels and saws built into the ends or the tool trays, and a shelf that sits between the upper rails under the bench top that can slide laterally to a different position if needed. The plywood used was likely 40 years old with thick lamination, I chose to address the voids with blue tinted water putty, which became an aesthetic theme. Not to discourage tool tray debate, but I will not be swayed from my like of these trays.

The hardware consists of a Veritas Twin in the front, a 7 inch QR on the end, and a small mortised plane stop.

Topless …


A thread rod support C-channel made from composite decking material assists the V-twin screws nicely.

Gallery

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That is a serious bench. That tool well looks super handy. I did have a question about the tail vise. If you are using just a single dog do you have any issues with racking? I have an old Morgan woodworking vise I was considering as a tail vise when I build my new bench.
 

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WOW!!!! That's a bench! Nice

- Brodan
Massive. Says try to move me…

- therealSteveN
Yeah, it doesn't want to move! ' Glad I built it where I want it to be.

If you are using just a single dog do you have any issues with racking? I have an old Morgan woodworking vise I was considering as a tail vise when I build my new bench.

- sansoo22
That's a good question, and I am sure miles may vary with different vises. There were a few things I had in mind considering the vise: beefy guide posts, square thread, small, and not a levered QR.

I opted for "small" instead of getting a large 9-10 inch to minimize racking risk. With the vise mounted as far to the outside as it can go, a small vise presents the center screw closer to the outside edge, which places the dog closer to the screw. To my discouragement, though the vise that I got had a 7 inch iron chop, the mounting casting was 7.5 inches, so I had to backoff from the edge 1/2 inch, leaving the center screw shy of 4" from the edge instead of 3.5". The dog holes are 2.5" from the edge on center.

I am happy where it ended up. The dog is fairly close to the screw, and it is still at least between the screw and the outer guide post. I don't perceive any racking and it certainly isn't felt in a functional way. But, tightened up hard, I did measure it to be about 1mm along the 7 inch length.



Yet, when pinching work between dogs, you don't want to crush it. If you push it too hard, the work may bend up in the middle, and you won't be working with something that is flat on the bench.

Anywho, I am sure your Morgan won't disappoint.
 

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Thank you for the detailed explanation. I assumed it would work well but now with all the info you shared I have no doubt it will work quite well for me.
 

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Wow I don't believe I've ever seen a serious bench made from plywood. What an interesting idea. Looks great. How did you flatten the top? Or did you not really need to with plywood?
 

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Wow I don't believe I've ever seen a serious bench made from plywood. What an interesting idea. Looks great. How did you flatten the top? Or did you not really need to with plywood?

- 21smores
Thanks ! Making this out of plywood took X times longer then most anyone would go through with a traditional solid wood.

One would have to be really lucky to laminate this much ply and get it perfect right out of the clamps. To flatten, a 13 inch benchtop thickness planer did most of the work from glue-up. After the top was bolted down, a No7/No5 touched it up. A sharp blade and a shallow cut worked fine.

A few other notes blogged here: https://www.lumberjocks.com/metolius/blog/132384
 

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Fabulous bench. I really like that 20 yr old plywood. You just don't see that anymore. Great job!
 

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That looks both great and functional. Well done.
 

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Really nice bench!!
I've used plywood ,like you did, for the legs but didn't think of using for top.
 
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