My New Bench

As promised, here is my new bench.  First of all, I am building this one to replace the one I have been swearing at for years.  I built it many years ago.  I started it with good intentions but not a lot of thought.  By the time I got the top made, I had a lot of work to do and hurried up and finished it.  Consequently, the base did not come out very good, but it worked.  I always figure I would fix it someday but you know how that goes.  This new version has been in my head for a long time and I finally had the time and money to get it out.

My first thoughts were to the vises.  I had bought a used Veritas twin screw vise some years ago and put it aside for someday.  For the front vise I decided I wanted a patternmakers vise.  I looked up the Emmert vise but you can’t touch one of those for less than $1,000 unless you get real lucky.  There is a Chinese clone available for a decent price so I took a chance on it.  I got it from Woodcraft.  So, now I have my vises and need to think about the bench.  I know I wanted heavy, solid, maple and have a recessed tool well.  I did a lot of research on line.  I looked at pictures, read reviews and blogs.  I got the basic design and drew it up with Google sketchup.  I wanted to find any problems before I got into it.  I measured a lot because I wanted it to be as big as I could get without being too big.  Finally I have all the details figured out and I can start cutting.

I bought a pile of 8/4 soft maple and started making sawdust.  The top is laminated strips 1 7/8 thick x 3 1/8 wide and about 7 feet long.  I glued them up in two batches,planed them and glued them together.  I ran the whole slab through the sander and had my top.  Next, I got into mounting the vises.  For the patternmakers vise, there is a lot of excavating to do.  You have to route out the underside of the top for all the hardware to fit.  It looks like this:  (click on the images for a bigger view)

For the other vise it’s a little simpler.  After the skirting is on the top, you simply drill a couple of holes and install the hardware.  Here’s a shot of the finished vise.

Veritas twin screw

It works great.  Much better than the old vises I had on my other bench.  For the skirting, I wanted it to wrap around, but i didn’t want any problems with cross grain.  The top is quarter sawn, so I know there wouldn’t be much movement but it still needed room.  I ended up doing something like a breadboard for the ends.  I made a toungue on the end and a groove in the skite board.  I glued the front third and put a bolt in a slotted hole for the back.  I just screwed and glued the corners.  I saw no need for fancy joinery there.  I though a lot about the recess in the back.  I wanted it deep enough to hold things, but not so big I lose things in it.  It could have been a little smaller, but I think it’s fine.


The bottom is some left over white oak I had.

So now I turn my attention to the base.  For a top this heavy, I need a solid base.  I glued up four legs to make 4″ x 4″ posts.  The feet are 4″ x 3″ thick.  Simple mortise and tenon joinery for the whole thing.  I did bolt the legs to the feet in addition to the joinery.  This thing is solid.  I made the feet a little long and offset the legs because the tool recess hangs out in the back.  I put a piece of MDF on the bottom stretchers for a shelf and put some things there.  Eventually, I plan to add a cabinet with drawers.  I’ll get some pictures when I get to that.  The whole thing is finished with my usual oil finish.  About a half gallon in all.  Here are a couple of shots of the finished bench.

Finished Bench

Another Shot









It seems like I finished it just in time because I have a bunch of work coming in and I am looking forward to seeing how it works out.  I’ll let you know.

That’s it for now.  Please feel free to ask any questions you might have.  Visit my website too.  I have some work to do there too.

Til next time let’s all wish for sunny days and dry roads.


4 Responses to “My New Bench”

  1. Andy says:

    Your bench looks great. This blog was a pleasure to read can’t wait for more keep it up…Thanks…

  2. mdafran says:

    Nice finishing. Yup i agree when it comes to pattern makers vise, there is a lot of excavating to be settled. Really annoying at times when there is so much to do but so little time. The 4″ x 4″ posts on the legs is perfect. Doing it a bit high would affect the stability

  3. Ronald Gaudia says:

    Your work funiture is as beautiful as your furniture. And, I’m all healed and love the sleigh bed! Enjoyed your blog and look foward to more.

  4. wizzy tee says:

    Nice job on that bench ! and yep, I got a similar Veritas vice on my bench ( which is a lot simpler ) and I love that vice, but seeing your new work bench makes we think I just might like to have one too…. LOL

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