Workbench with no front stretcher

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by 12strings posted 10-20-2013 04:49 AM 4680 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 3465 days

10-20-2013 04:49 AM

I’d like to build a workbench, but in my very limited space, I’d really like to be able to roll my anarchist-style tool chest UNDER the bench when not in use…so that means building a bench without a front stretcher, or at least not a very low front stretcher. I just don’t want the bench to rack when I do aggressive hand-planing.

Does anyone know of any designs, or have any ideas, that would accommodate this?

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

14 replies so far

View Loren's profile


11192 posts in 4729 days

#1 posted 10-20-2013 05:33 AM

You might want to toe the legs out. I used threaded rod
in my bench stretchers and the whole thing is very solid.
You could use a front stretcher up high and a rear one lower.

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 3088 days

#2 posted 10-20-2013 10:12 AM

You could slip a piece of angle-iron under the front. It’d give good support and maybe no one will notice it :-)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 4050 days

#3 posted 10-20-2013 10:21 AM

Splay the legs like Loren says, there are benches out there made like this, they usually have a deep apron (8/9”) to help with stability.

View Sylvain's profile


1246 posts in 3580 days

#4 posted 10-20-2013 02:06 PM

Have a look at the Paul Sellers bench.
It uses thick and deep aprons with dados for the legs.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 3465 days

#5 posted 10-23-2013 12:31 PM

Thanks for the advice, I had not thought about the stability help that an apron would give…Let me know what you think of this idea:

There’s a few extra lines on the front of the apron in this sketchup model, but just ignore those…

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View Tedstor's profile


1691 posts in 3714 days

#6 posted 10-23-2013 01:05 PM

Would this work?? This was recommended by the blogger at Fullchisel… avid hand too guy. In fact, I think he’s one of those 18th century, work-by-candle light, re-enactor types. That said, I’m sure its suitable for the riggors of hand planning.

View Don W's profile

Don W

20050 posts in 3648 days

#7 posted 10-23-2013 01:19 PM

if you don’t care for the wide front skirt you could also just use some corner bracing, or even use the front skirt with the center cut out to form corner bracing. Straight lines, wavy lines or some design could be implemented if it’s more your style.

The splayed legs are a great design, but really don’t add any stability side to side.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2881 posts in 4003 days

#8 posted 10-23-2013 01:26 PM

My tool bench is a 1 1/2” thick solid core door supported with metal leg/trusses. No stretcher. Mine is over 20 years old now. No sag at all. I mounted two drawers under it to hold spring clamps and still have room to get my legs under it when seated. Just make your bench tall enough to fit your tool chest.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 3465 days

#9 posted 10-23-2013 01:50 PM

I was originally thinking of a designg like the little roubo from Roy Underhill’s show. And I also really like this “Little-JOhn Workbench ( Then decided I wanted to roll my toll chest under it, so I just added a large skirt to the design (See pic above) in place of a front stretcher.

It has to be small (5 feet), so I thought the rear legs at the angle would help with stability. And I’ve decided I DO want a tool well. This will be primarily a hand-tool bench. So a thick, flat top is a must for hand-planing. The height will not be very negotiable, as it needs to be a good height for me to work at.

Ted-star, I like the notches in the apron on that picture…I might have to incorporate that. I’m hoping to maybe get this started in the next month or two, but realistically it might be after the New-Year. I’ve done some math, and Plan to make this bench for about $50. I think I can get all the wood for about $33.00. (I’ll post more when I make some progress.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View Woodknack's profile


13557 posts in 3461 days

#10 posted 10-23-2013 04:40 PM

I’m not really sure what benefit the splayed legs add, stability shouldn’t be an issue front to back… unnecessary complication.

Looks like you have a double screw vise on the front instead of a leg vise; I’d change that.

-- Rick M,

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 3465 days

#11 posted 10-23-2013 04:51 PM

I believe the splayed legs help on front-to-back stability only if you are making a narrow bench, as I plan to. The legs splay back to widen the footprint, thereby increasing stability, but they come forward at the top so they can be joined to the actual benchtop, not just tot he tool tray area.

As to a leg vice, I have read all the benifits of one, and actually agree with most of them, but have decided on a twin screw for a few reasons:

-I have been using one for about 4 years now, and would miss it if I didn’t have one.
-I don’t want to have extra moxon bench-top vice lying around taking up space. And the fact that it was not permanently attached to the bench would mean more work for dovetailing.
-I do a lot more small joinery work than edge-jointing very large pieces of wood.
-If I ever have a large shop with more space and a bigger bench, I would probalby go with the leg-vice/moxon combo.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 4052 days

#12 posted 10-24-2013 05:17 PM

My top is 3” thick and the 4” square legs are embedded in 2 1/2” deep mortices filled with epoxy. A back side stretcher is 2 1/4” thick and 8” tall and about 6” off the floor, with through tenons pinned to the legs. The front don’t need no stinking stretcher. Or apron, or brace or anything else. Sucker is solid as a concrete wall.

View Ron Harper's profile

Ron Harper

133 posts in 2997 days

#13 posted 10-25-2013 09:15 PM

Believe me. If Stephen Shepherd. (Full .Chisel) recommends something, it will work.

-- Ron in Kokomo

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 3465 days

#14 posted 11-07-2013 10:57 AM

Here is my refined sketchup of what I’ve got so far…I think the front apron will do just the trick. I’ll be able to roll my tool chest under there, and also my saw-bench. I’m planning to use a jorgenson press screw for the wagon vise. I can make the whole thing out of 3 2×10 SYP joists.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics