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Forum topic by Tony Ennis posted 11-15-2009 06:43 PM 1311 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Tony Ennis

139 posts in 4191 days

11-15-2009 06:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench holdfast work bench hold fast question

My bench is straight out of Norm Abram’s first book. I built it about 20 years ago. While I can’t complain about the longevity of the bench… I am thinking it is time for a change.

The bench is something like 30” wide including a tool tray. First, do you actually like tool trays? To me it was a great place to accumulate debris of the worst sort and nothing more. My next one won’t have one.

I was also unimpressed by the tail vise. While Norm’s design works well enough, I quit using it and just started using stops when I needed to keep a board from moving while planing.

Back to the width. I never use the full width of the bench.

What would you think of a bench that’s 18” wide or so? I’d probably go 6’ or 7’ long. Front vise. Wide apron on the front for clamping. Holes for stops. Holdfasts? Anyone use these? Typical base with real joinery (not drywall screws in endgrain /rolleyes.)

I won’t be building until the spring but I need to solidify ideas now.

-- Tony

2 replies so far

View willyb's profile


8 posts in 4174 days

#1 posted 11-16-2009 06:23 PM

Hi Tony,
Check this out. This might be something your interested in. I built it and absolutely think its the greatest.
It’s called the Ultimate tool stand once you see it I think you’ll agree. Its made out of all MDF materials.

-- Willyb, Dearborn, Mich

View gerrym526's profile


299 posts in 4863 days

#2 posted 11-17-2009 12:41 AM

I built my bench 14yrs ago, and wouldn’t change anything on it-you can see it in my workshop pictures on my homepage here.
To answer some of your questions-
1) tool tray=a dust and tool clutter collector-I decided not to include one in my design after working on a traditional bench in woodworking classes with a tray.
2) I find a tail vise useful because it’s a Veritas Twin Screw vise which runs the width of the table at one end. Like you I”m not fond of traditional tail vises because you only have one bench dog in use with it-limiting the maximum width of board to work with.
3) Bench width-mine is 24” which has worked very well for me. I wouldn’t go as shallow as 18” because you never know when you’ll need the extra depth and work space, not to mention it would be more stable
4) Holes for stops-see my bench, it’s covered with them, offering lots of flexibility
5) Front vise-I recommend the Jorgensen Quick Release with wooden pads installed-the best for the money.
6) Holdfasts-take a look at the Veritas holdfasts-a brass bar fastened to a screw mechanism with a handle that runs through the bench dog. Works well when used with a standard round hole bench dog on the other end of the piece being held.
7) Construction-mine is solid hard maple, trestle legs with stretchers top is 2 1/2inches thick with 4inch aprons-weight about 200 pounds. Very stable for hand tool work (chisels, planes, etc)

Hope this helps.

-- Gerry

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