New workbench – planning

Something I had wanted to work on for some time was a new workbench. Shiny and new, like the guys on the TV and internet had.

My influences for this sort of thing came from Chris Schwarz and Paul Sellers:

Schwarz wrote the book on benches and then wrote another one with even more benches. His favorite seems to be the popular Roubo style: Big timbers, legs flush with the edge of the top, one solid hunk of a top, keep it simple.


Sellers though, in his fashion, has wonderful Youtube videos showing him making his bench from 2x4s from the local home store using a few old tools and a bunch of clamps. The videos show how to do all the joinery in a simple and stout manner. His design shows a split worktop with a tool well running down the middle. The legs are built in a frame and dadoed into two aprons that are glued to the worktop. This prevents a lot of racking.


I like the Roubo principles of being able to clamp all along the front. The shelf underneath is handy for putting bench hooks. planing stops etch. From the Sellers’ style I like the tool well and the apron’s ability to prevent racking.

A design that met many of my wants was the 21st Century Workbench by Bob Lang. His has the split worktop with a toolwell, but the toolwell was made of removable trays. These could be flipped over to make a pseudo solid top. Also, it had a stretcher at about knee height for clamping to the front. Wedged bottom stretchers are able to be tightened at will. The end vise can be used for crosscutting. It still is a bit big.


Anyways, what I had been working with had a tool well, a shelf, a new quick-release vise and an end vise. This end vise was the old front vise mounted on the end. The end frames were 2x4s screwed together with OSB sheathing. The top was a solid-core door ripped in half and glued together to make it 3″ thick.

First I set about adding a load of 2×4 to the front of the bench. These incorporated the high stretcher and the lower stretcher with the wedges.

Lang makes the legs for his bench by first cutting out the angled mortises on one half of the leg and then gluing it to the other half. I cut out my mortises by chiseling, sawing, hacking, using a router. Anything that would remove the wood. This method means that you are effectively making half-lap joints which become mortise-and-tenon when the legs get glued up. Easier to show than write about maybe.


The tenons were cut out in a similar fashion.



The new parts were screwed onto the front of the old bench to see how things looked.


Next: Gluing up leg frames.


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