Wood Working Work Bench

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Work Bench

In order to do good wood working you need a good work bench. This is my take on a common style of work bench. The bench is 6' long, 26inches wide and just over 34 inches high. The height should be adjusted for the individual, you want the top to be just about waist high so that working is comfortable. If it is too low it will hurt your back. My bench was constructed out of 2x4's and 2x8's, these are cheap and easy to find at most home improvement stores or lumber yards. Pine is a easy wood to work with, but does not take abuse well.

If you plan on using mostly hand tools like I do, I would recommend building your first bench rather then buying one. Woodworking stores sell some really nice looking benches. But if you don't have a lot of experience working with wood and hand tools, this is the best way to get experience. You will make mistakes, and it will not be the fanciest bench in the world. But it is only a work bench, when it becomes to messed up I plan to use it to build a nice hardwood work bench.

You will see that I used a workmate as a bench. While these are not the best, they are better then nothing. They are a handy investment since they can double as a hand truck, and are also useful as a spare hand. But they do not work well with hand tools since they are to light. A good wood working bench needs to have a thick heavy top, this is so when you are running a plan down a board the bench does not move. If the bench you are using moving when you are sawing or planing, it is too light and you need to build a heavier one. Because most of your energy is being spent in moving the bench and not cutting the wood.

To begin pick the straightest boards you can find. Get extra since they can be used in later projects. I got a bunch of 12 foot 2x4 and several 10 foot 2x8 boards. The 2x4's were split in half and planed flat. Next they were edge joined to make a laminated top.

For tools you should have the following:

  • Cross Cut Saw
  • Rip Cut Saw
  • Gents Saw, or Dovetail Saw
  • Jack Plane
  • Jointer Plane
  • Measuring tool
  • Tape Measure
  • Set of Chisels
  • Mallet for Chisels
  • Sharpening stone for Planes and Chisels
  • Screw drivers
  • Hand Drill
  • Auger Bits
  • Power Drill with bit set
  • Level
  • Square
  • Router is helpful
  • An assistant can be helpful at times?    assistant     Here is mine.

The dimensions of the bench are not critical, whatever size will fit your work area. Also the tool tray can be omitted. Make the bench at least two feet wide, anything smaller will be hard to work on.

Start by making the top. Laminate the 2x4's together. Then the top needs to be planed perfectly flat. This is important, this is your reference surface. Take as much time as you can to make sure you top is flat. Mine developed a very large twist during glue-up. This took a lot of work to get it flat. The bottom of the top must also be flat, but does not have to be perfect. It only needs to sit on legs without rocking. The bench should be reasonably level when finished, but I don't feel it needs to be perfectly level. Just level enough so tools do not roll off. The sides of the top need to be at right angles to the top as well. The thickness of the top is so that it will be stable and not twist under pressure of clamps or humidity. When planing boards this is a good quick check to see that you have the board flat and that there is no bow in it.

I do not have pictures of laminating the top, I got my camera after I started the project. Here are some pictures of the top as I was planing it flat.

img_0446 Close up of top before we started to plan it.
img_0462 Planing in progress.
img_0466 Another close-up.
img_0533 Still working, you can see the twist in top very clearly here.

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