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Workbench History

Let’s be clear in the first sentence, if you want a complete guide to workbenches, find Chris Schwarz. If you want plans and a video on how to build a simple effective bench see Paul Sellers’ series (I’ve used his bench, it is excellent). This blog is about my brief workbench history and what has worked for many years as an essential tool in my shop. It confirms that a workbench can be cheap, simple and very effective. There are no plans, but it’s simple enough that none are needed and it’s a little embarrassing how sloppy I’ve been with upgrades. It’s also a story of why I want to move on to a new bench.

The bench is built from a single sheet of 3/4 plywood and 2×4 pine. Lag bolts hold it together and screws keep the top and cross members in place. My father helped me build it when I was in my early teens. The top is a single sheet of plywood, doubled over and glued. It is screwed to a 2×4 frame with cross members.  The legs are single 2×4 and attach inside the top and bottom frames.

When Shannon Rogers began his Hand Tool School I quickly moved most of my Joinery to Hand Tools and recognized that the bench needed to be stiffened, grabbing some scrap I cut it to size a hammered it into place to stiffen the ends. I added a 2×4 to the legs at front which fit in between the upper and lower rails.

The small vise on the side was originally on front of the bench but now sits on the side and is perfect to hold my leather strop close by my work area. It also works as a planing clamp. Next I added a 2×4 under the bench to provide added depth for hold fasts. It’s a simple solution for a bench without the necessary thickness for them to work.

After attending Paul Sellers’ fundamentals of woodworking class I recognized the value of a larger vice so set about making modifications to the bench. This consisted of a board at the front, a couple of cross members and the vise became part of my tool set.

Many years later I admit that there is little that my current bench does not provide. The desire for a new work bench is purely for the challenge of the bench. So I began a journey to build a new bench and you will see it in the next several blogs.

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