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Decided to upgrade my workbench this year. My previous bench has been a workhorse for the past five years, but over that time how I work and the projects I'm focusing on have changed. In response, I decided it would be easier and better to build a new bench instead of modifying the previous one. Went back with a design based on a Holtzapffel bench, with some modifications to better meet my personal needs.

Made a visit to my sawyer to see what he had available for bench material. Among other pieces, he had a stack of short and wide 6/4 burr oak that all had defects so was willing to sell for a bargain price. I was able to sort through and come up with enough good pieces for legs, stretchers and vise. Then we went to look for a top. He had several possibilities of 8/4 that could be ripped and laminated and then showed me a few burr oak slabs. I have always loved the look of slab benches and this became my opportunity to build one. Sorted through and selected one. Hauled it all home and got ready to work.

For those out there that think a good workbench is going to cost an arm and a leg, that's just not the case if you are willing to do a bit of work and understand that a bench doesn't need to be made of furniture quality wood. By being willing to start with stock that was not desirable to others, whether due to length, warp or other defects, I was able to purchase all the wood for under $300.



Bench was built in a true hybrid manner. Hand planes to flatten, joint and smooth. Band saw, drill press and planer to dimension and rough out mortises and tenons. Took a few weeks longer than I had planned to get completed, but I'm very happy with the results. With careful selection and milling of the 6/4 stock, there was plenty for the base and I was able to use the pieces with more character on the front-QS for one leg and the vise chop and worm-holed pieces for the front stretcher and vise leg.











Bench is 38in tall, 60in long and ~20in deep, with the top being about 3-3/4 thick after working out some twist and flattening. The slab for the top ended up about 17-1/2 wide, so in order to get a bit more width, I decided on a tool slot across the back. I had found the end cap tool slot very useful on the previous bench, so this made a good opportunity to combine the benefits of a tool slot with the need for additional width.

Vise is a Veritas twin screw chain vise, purchased secondhand from fellow LJ woodcox when he upgraded recently. Jaws are leather lined. I wanted the rear of the vise to be the front of the bench, not an additional jaw that extended out even further from the bench. Instructions didn't have any help for that eventuality, but some creative problem solving allowed it to happen. Front chop is chamfered to reduce the likelihood of hitting a sharp corner.





Bench is finished with Danish oil-dark walnut on the base and natural on the top and vise.

All in all, I'm very satisfied with the result. My old bench has served well for many years, but this one should be even better, due to a better understanding of how I work and my needs.

Gallery

Comments

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10,147 Posts
Impressive bud. You really knocked this one out.
 

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3,558 Posts
Very nice, love the character that Oak shows! Looking back wish I had made my bench a little nicer.
 

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6,271 Posts
Stellar job on building the work bench…..A good sturdy work bench is a must have in the woodshop….Needs to be beefy, stout, and does not rack when applying pressure to the top as in planeing, sawing, etc…..You really knocked this one out of the park…..Excellent…..!! It will last you many years to come…..!!
 

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7,192 Posts
Well done Jay. That's gonna be a pleasure to work on.
 

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6,567 Posts
Nice bench.

Thanks for posting, always fun to see bench builds.
 

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21,780 Posts
Nice work Jay. Something about a beefy oak bench just feels right. Well thought out and intentionally executed should make for a lifetime bench!
 

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1,403 Posts
Excellent work on that bench.
 

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Yeah. My next one is gonna be red oak :( I hate. Red oak. I will think of this one wistfully when working my red oak.
 

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Thanks all for the comments and compliments

Fridge, if you want to make a long road trip, I'd send you the name of my sawyer. I was really hoping to do a locust top, either black or honey, but the only slabs he had were the burr oak. All the locust was 8/4, so would have to have been laminated. Slab top took precedence over species preference.
 

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12,441 Posts
Great bench Jay, you should be set for life. I like the grain on the legs as well as the chop. Good looking work overall.
 

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18,689 Posts
Excellent work JayT. Your going to love working on it.
 

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5,279 Posts
Really nice work! A very personal bench with a lot of your thought and planning built in. You will be able to enjoy that every time you use it. You can't beat that feeling.
 

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1,819 Posts
Congrats with the new workbench, JayT. Fine work sir.
 

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8,547 Posts
Looks like a heck of an addition to the shop. Congrats, JayT
 

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2,161 Posts
Great looking bench! Man do I need and upgrade. Well done!
 

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Am I the only person that said to himself, "WTF is the bondo?"
 

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Nope ^

Bondo! Bondo! Bondo!
 

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me (pounding on the table): BONDO. BONDO. BONDO.

everyone: BONDO! BONDO! BONDO!
 

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BONDO
BONDO
BONDO! BONDO
BONDO! BONDO
BONDO! BONDO
BONDO! BONDO
BONDO! BONDO
BONDO! BONDO
BONDO! BONDO
BONDO! BONDO
BONDO! BONDO
BONDO! BONDO
BONDO! BONDO!

you get the idea
 
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