Question about an unconventional workbench plan

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Forum topic by adamclyde posted 12-12-2015 03:52 PM 1335 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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43 posts in 2927 days

12-12-2015 03:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench plans

I’m finally getting around to building my workbench. However, I have a bit of unique set up in my shop, and I also need my workbench to do double duty as an outfeed table for my delta unisaw.

Instead of having the long edge of my workbench butt up along the table saw as most do, due to the somewhat unique layout of my workspace/workshop, I am thinking I may need to butt mine up against the narrow edge of the bench. Kind of hard to describe, but i’ve included a picture to give you an idea of what I mean (ignore the dimensions… just drew it to illustrate layout).

All of that is fine except… I want to include both a front (or leg) vise and a tail vise. In every version of any workbench I’ve ever seen or used, the tail vise and front vises are set up at opposite ends of the same long edge of the workbench. Makes sense for obvious reasons. However, if I butt up against my tablesaw this becomes impossible.

So here’s my thought… why can’t I just put my tail vise directly opposite my front vise, as I will essentially be able to use both sides of my workbench.

I can’t think of any reason why this would be a problem, even if unconventional. The vises wouldn’t conflict with each other, and because I’ll have access to both sides of the bench, it won’t be a problem for me as a right handed worker.

But… that I’ve never seen this before gives me serious pause that there’s something dead obvious I’m missing.


10 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2499 days

#1 posted 12-12-2015 04:30 PM

Having to clear an area of your workbench to make a cut is going to be a pain. Other than that. I think it’ll work just fine.

Edit: My first temporary bench was an outfeed table. It made a good glue up, assembly table. When using a bunch of hand tools it was a huge pain to clear for a cut.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

490 posts in 2694 days

#2 posted 12-12-2015 04:57 PM

What about just putting a vise on the end next to the front vise or centered on the end of the bench? Tail vises are nice because all of the work is supported by the bench top but given your needs I think I would just move to a end vise or skip the end/tail vise all together. I couldn’t live without a vise on the front of my bench but the one on the end is much more optional and there are other ways to work around not having it.

Fine Woodworking issue Oct. 2015 shows on the cover where the bench they built is oriented exactly as you are showing it. They don’t have a tail vise on theirs.

View bondogaposis's profile


5953 posts in 3365 days

#3 posted 12-12-2015 07:21 PM

That layout should work fine, except as TheFridge said you’ll have to clear the bench to use the table saw. I disagree a bit with what Richard says about the tail vise. I use mine far more than the face vise and it should be close to the edge of the workbench for easy access to hand plane the edges of boards. That is what I mostly use mine for. It comes down to how you are going to use it.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1982 posts in 2983 days

#4 posted 12-12-2015 07:28 PM

I have my workbench parked in front of my table saw. For those of us with a smaller shop it helps save on space. I didn’t do it as you did however. Mine is butting up to the table saw (90 degrees from your drawing) the same way. Don’t worry about having to clear the space. It helps to keep things clean. In regards to your vices, if it works for you, then have at it

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View WhoMe's profile


1568 posts in 4257 days

#5 posted 12-13-2015 12:04 AM

What you are planning to build is the same type of bench I plan to build. Except, I’m left handed so my bench vise layout is going to be a challenge.
In my case, I’m going to build it such that it can be freestanding for use on it’s own or engage with the table saw as an out feed table as needed. Since my garage needs mobile tools, the bench has to move around and also search from the saw for storage. Plus when engaged with the saw, there will be added stability as the saw will be an anchor. Btw, I’m planting to model my bench after the one in the oct 2015 fww too.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View David Taylor's profile

David Taylor

326 posts in 2101 days

#6 posted 12-13-2015 04:47 AM

Put the vices where you want them. It’s your bench.

Take a look at Patrick Edwards’ bench (maker of Old Brown Glue, and master of marquetry). He’s got a different type of vise on every corner!

-- Learn Relentlessly

View daddywoofdawg's profile


1029 posts in 2588 days

#7 posted 12-13-2015 09:47 AM

To me what your missing is if your right handed your sawing into the bench,But if you put the face vise on the left narrow end that would work or the face vise were the tail is now on the long side,and the tail over on the other side where your showing the face vice. I.e flip your bench drawing over keeping the vises on the same end.

View ellen35's profile


2749 posts in 4446 days

#8 posted 12-13-2015 11:33 AM

I have my table saw in the same configuration as you propose. I have no problem with it. No matter what “side” of the 4 you butt your table saw to, you still have to clean off the bench. This configuration allows me to work on both sides of my bench and still have good access to the table saw.

As for vices… as daddywoofdawg said, it’s your bench. Put them where you wish.


-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Robert's profile


4451 posts in 2494 days

#9 posted 12-13-2015 12:29 PM

I’m with Fridge, etal. re: clutter clearing.

If at all possible, your workbench should be single use.
You can build a drop leaf outfeet table or use outfeed rollers you can put them away.

As for the vises, I would consider a wagon vise instead of a tail vise.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View adamclyde's profile


43 posts in 2927 days

#10 posted 12-13-2015 02:53 PM

Thanks everyone – this is awesome info.

@WhoMe – I’m in the same boat. I need my tools to be able to move too, somewhat at least. Are you going to keep your bench stationary too? Or are you going to make it mobile? I’ve been looking at Chris Schwatz's idea as a pretty simple method…

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