This replicates my personal workbench, one I have used and preferred over all others for, well, actually, half a century. The slightly smaller size and lighter weight of a No. 3 made it easier to feel how the iron was reacting to the grain of the wood. That modification required me to plane the top with an electric planer but the cost savings will be worth the trouble. I really enjoyed creating the wood shavings, used a combination of 4 / 4.5, / 5 and 5.5 Stanleys. Next plane the top smooth using a surface planner, if you dont have a planer that can plane 2 feet in width plane each board individually. By adding some color”, I mean to put some strips of mahogany that I have laying around into the mix when laminating my bench top.
After you have the leg frames on a level surface, use the level to make sure they’re straight up and down (called plumb”) as you fasten on the long rails. I’d drill some 20 mm holes in the Ipe top so I could use parf dogs and clamping stuff as on an MFT/3. The boys and I set up a pair of sawhorses in the garden because we don’t have a picnic table. Mark the location of the vise bolt holes on the bottom of the bench, then use an adjustable square to transfer the locations to the top. As you might expect, there’s a wide variance of opinion as to the best attributes for a workbench.
Finding a way to secure the top for planing may have been the most difficult task of the day. Used pool table lighting can be purchased quite cheaply and adds a bit of decor to a garage, but any type of lighting at all will add considerable value to your workspace. You should also consider the humidity of the environment that the bench will be placed in. A wood that expands and contracts seasonally will eventually become warped. Start assembling your workbench by securing the crosspieces to the first pair of legs.
I installed another two screws so that the heads were above the top surface of the beam, and placed a thin scrap of cherry across them to make a planing stop. A general-purpose workbench for, say, sharpening your chain saw or fixing a broken toy could be taller. A couple of block planes, a smoother, jack (or two jacks), and jointer are really all you need.
My personal knowledge and research shows this bench to be typical of just about every workbench made and has been used by boat builders, joiners and furniture makers throughout history. The depth of the workbench top is very critical if you plan to butt it against a wall that will have tools hanging on pegboard. This bench is everything a good workbench should be: It is heavy and strong, so it won’t skate or wobble. The two little pieces of wood sticking out from the cabinet are wedges that are holding the cabinet in place while it’s being screwed into position.
Cordless tools aren’t necessary to build the workbench, but if you have access to them, they make life a lot easier. It’s worth investing in the best wood and binders in order to get great results, and to make furniture that will stand the test of time. I couldn’t do that because there wasn’t room to flip my L-shaped top upside down, and the support frame prevented me from holding the router upside down against the edge. However, if this is combined with a wet sink, to be used for general cleanup, then it could make some sense. I slightly modified your design, I used 2×6’s across the top because I couldn’t find a door for under $100.
Not so much so that it doesn’t work; but enough that instead of ending up flat and true, the top ends up very slightly (a few thousandths, but enough to see under bright oblique light, or under a straight edge) scalloped; the gluelines slightly peaked and the flats slightly troughed. They have wood used for trailer flooring that is similiar to bowling alley flooring. You might want to consider cutting a groove in each of the sides to be glued up and make a spline to fit. The roller combo was slow and applied way too much glue, it might work OK on a small project but not almost 8″ X 10″ laminated workbench tops.
You can always make an additional leg frame before final assembly if you decide it’s necessary. The workbench is actually made out of 4 cabinets that we bought for $20 each at a habitat for humanity restore- they are VERY sturdy cabinets that were from a doctors office. It is stout enough to hold any load, has a smooth surface that won’t scratch wood and can be easily flipped or replaced once the table top is too nicked up to work on. Add a coat of beeswax for a finish that will repel stains and paint. This cabinet is built in two sections and fit’s snuggly on the maple stretchers at the base of the bench.
It’s a little bit more work, but I think it makes the bench top look more finished and professional looking and it makes the edges more comfortable to lean against. I scored some nice 2x8x8′ S4S pine and was thinking about building a simple bench top to mount my vise, shear and other tools. If I were to build an outdoor work bench for woodworking I think I’d use 80/20 profiles for frame + legs and add a top made from Ipe decking boards.
Note that I also bought a few extra pieces of hardware – it’s habit of mine in case I drop one and it rolls off into oblivion so I don’t have to make another trip to the hardware store. Make it nice and heavy, and make the top layer removable so you can flip it over or replace it once it gets too scarred up. You can’t sand down a plywood top to renew it, but you can simply substitute a new layer. To make them more manageable we had the lumberyard crosscut them into two 62-inch lengths. I have some pine that I was going to use for the first steps in building this workbench.
The frames will need to be closer together if you’re using plastic composite boards, because these aren’t as strong as wood. Today, on the second section I gave in to a friend’s suggestion to use a glue bottle with a roller on top. It is filled with lots of information and great photos and for any woodworker it is sure to be great book to have around to learn about this great style and for inspiration for what to build on top of your workbenches. In order to accommodate toolbox placement and to be able to comfortably pull up a chair underneath the workbench.
The length of each leg should be the desired height of the bench minus the thickness of the bench top. Latex enamel is another reason why I’ll probably use a laminated top the next time. This wood was magnificent but even the secondhand use from demolished buildings is just about gone. It would be at least 3 inches thick and I would glue a thin layer of solid wood on the top and sides. I put some cheap pergo-type flooring on the top after the first year – holds up well, easy to clean, and it was basically free since I had it left over from a job. The vice would be bolted through (like your described) and the bolts would be covered by the solid wood.