Woodworking Workbench

Woodworking Workbench

January 26, 2024

The Spark

The original woodworking workbench at Fox.Build was more of a table than a workbench. It had a plywood top that was sagging on both ends and it took up a majority of the floorspace in the woodshop. It didn't have any of the features commonly found in a woodworking bench such as vises and dog holes. And, things were constantly falling off the underneath shelves. So, we decided to build a real woodworking workbench with room for storage containers for member use.

The Things

Supplies/Materials

  • Construction lumber: 1x2s, 2x3s, 2x4's, 2x10's, 
  • Hickory 1x4s, 1x6s
  • Maple 1x8
  • Oak dowels for the vise handles
  • 3/4" plywood for the shelves
  • End vise hardware
  • Standard vise hardware
  • Wood glue
  •  

Tools Used

  • Miter saw
  • Planer
  • Hand plane
  • LOTs of clamps
  • Drill and bits
  • Wood lathe (for the vise handle ends)

The Process

Step 1

Design the New Bench

Workbench CAD Drawing

We did a preliminary CAD design in OnShape. This gave us a working model from which we could print drawings and dimensions to use when cutting.

Step 2

First Group Meeting to Begin Construction

Workbench Construction

First meeting to begin construction. We cut the 2x4s and assembled the legs, cut the dowels for the vise handles, and turned the knobs that go on the end of the vise handles. 

Step 3

Cut boards for the top

2x10s for Top

We had three donated 2x10s which we ripped in thirds for the top. We combined these with some 2x3s to get enough to make the main benchtop. 

Step 4

Glue the benchtop boards together

Benchtop Sections

We glued the benchtop boards together into 3 sections, clamping them tightly. This project proved you can never have too many clamps!

Step 5

Glue the three sections into a single benchtop

Complete Top Glue-Up

We glued the  3 sections together to create a single piece benchtop, again clamping tightly

Step 6

Frame the perimeter

Perimeter Framing

We then framed the perimeter with 2x4s and glued and clamped

Step 7

Start building the end vise

End Vise Core

The end vise is a complicated structure. In this step we cut and glued the basic parts that attach to the mechanical parts we bought. The end vise is made of hickory, the hardest wood our local big box store sells.

Step 8

Build the benchtop out to match the end vise

Lining up for the dog holes

In this step we built the benchtop out with 2x4s so the edge was co-planer with the edge of the end vise core. This sets up the surfaces for the dog board and the dog holes in the vise so they will be in line.

Step 9

Attach the legs

Attach Legs

Attach the legs. We used metal angle brackets screwed to the top and the legs. This allows us to remove the legs if we ever want to move the workbench. It would not fit through the doorway if the legs were permanently attached.

Step 10

Install the shelves

Shelves Installed

Next we installed the shelves underneath the bench and test fit all the storage containers. We will now be able to store 12 containers beneath the bench, enough that members who desire their own storage tote can have one. This will also keep people's projects from getting as dusty as before and help avoid things falling off the shelves onto the floor and getting lost.

Step 11

Hand plane the benchtop

Plane Benchtop

We hand planed the surface of the benchtop to level out some of the larger imperfections. It is now within 1/8" of flat and level everywhere.

Step 12

Build the dog board

Dog Board

We built the dog board out of hickory with dog holes about every 6 inches. The holes are angled at 2 degrees so the dogs level out when pressure is applied.

Step 13

Attach the dog board

Attach Dogboard

The dog board was then glued onto the benchtop and heavily clamped.

Step 14

Finish the end vise

Completed End Vise

The dog holes and remaining parts of the end vise are glued on. The dog holes slant at 2 degrees towards the holes in the dogboard so that the bench dogs will end up with vertical faces under heavy clamping.

Step 15

Add hardboard top

Hardboard surface

We added a 3/16" hardboard top and covered it with 3 coats of exterior polyurethane. This will help keep glue from sticking and make a nice smooth surface. We also covered the end vise with the 3/16" hardboard and poly (not shown in the photo).

Step 16

Add a traditional vise

Second Vise

A second vise was added. It has 16" hard maple jaws. We also turned the knobs that fit on the ends of the vise handles and coated everything with 3 coats of exterior poly for protection.

Step 17

Make Bench Dogs (Foxes!)

Bench Foxes

Traditional workbenches use bench dogs, but we decided to create bench "foxes" since we are, after all, Fox.Build! These were made from the leftover hickory. Additional ones (better ones, in fact) were made from the leftover hard maple.