Project:
Workbench
 Starting Date: October 2006
 Completion Date: November 2006
 Inspiration: ShopNotes Magazine
 Size: Base (48" X 25"), Top (72.5" X 32.5" X 3.75"), 37.5" tall
 Wood Species: SPF, Yellow Birch and MDF
 Finish: Deft Danish Oil (Clear Natural)
 Materials Source: Lee Valley 10G04.13, 05G10.01, 05G04.02, 05G04.04
 Additional References: ShopNotes Magazine issue No. 89, August 2006, p.30-


I needed a functional workbench, not a work of art that I would be afraid to dent or stain. Besides, I did not have the money to invest in an all hardwood construction. In short, I needed a cheaper and faster solution than offered by the traditional "ornate" WorkBench. I found the inspiration for what I needed when I came across a plan in ShopNotes Magazine. It provided a clever way to use regular "Two-by" stock and MDF to build a sturdy base.  I did not follow the plan from the magazine so I cannot really comment on it. If you are interested, the plan is available at http://www.shopnotes.com/issues/089/extras/heavy-duty-workbench/

The Workbench Base

I flattened the "two-by" stock on the jointer, then planed to 1.25 thickness to ensure straight, flush, and rigid assemblies.

The following pictures show the base assembly.




























I then chamferred the edges so they would be less aggressive on the hands and a bit more pleasing for the eyes. I decided to not chamfer the top edge of the shelf should I ever decide to build a drawer/shelf insert. I still have no plans to build such an insert since I find that space very useful to tuck away my small Wood Lathe.

The Bench Top

Unfortunately, I do not have a picture for the BenchTop assembly. It has an MDF sub-base (2 Layers of 3/4" MDF, 69.5" X 29.5"), slabs (8.25" wide) of Yellow Birch strips on each side (11 strips of 2.25" X .75"), and the center is filled with MDF (3 layers of 3/4"). The edge of the BenchTop is dressed with solid Yellow Birch (3.75" X 1.5").

One of the Yellow Birch Slab ready for glue-up after a quick dry fit test.

Here is the final assembly ready for a coat of Danish Oil.

Having never used Bench Dogs before, I was not sure if I needed them or would use them. I am glad I did drill the 3/4" holes to accommodate for various clamping patterns. Now that I know what Bench Dogs can do and how fast they are to setup, I would not go without them. There is probably not a single project where I do not use them now. I have even drilled holes in the Front Vise external jaw to make use of the Bench Dog in combination with it.

I keep the Bench Dogs neatly stored at one end of the workbench, while the other end provides just the right space to keep a few clamps close to where I need them and out of way.


This workbench is sturdy, and with the top assembly, it is also heavy. It provides the necessary stability and rigidity for hand planning operations.


Notes:

  • This bench is heavy. If your space is limited and you foresee having to move it often, you may want to think of making removable skip pads made out of Teflon or UHMW polyethylene to put under the legs.
  • Chamfer the legs bottom to prevent tearout and splinters when moving the bench.
  • Use shop dried SPF stock.
  • Everything is glued for maximum rigidity and sturdiness. There is not a single nail in this construction.
  • Building 2 slabs, one for each side of the workbench, allows for the smaller slabs to go through a small planer.



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