Woodworking Bench II: My Bench Now and Future

This is a guest post by Chris Adkins of High Rock Woodworking.  It originally appeared at highrockwoodworking.com.  Feel free to check back there for more of Chris's woodworking rambling.

My Current Workbench
Like many woodworkers my two-car garage is my workshop but unfortunately I have not convinced my wife to permanently give up her side.  So I have my shop bench and tools set up on one side and have to pull her car out to actually work.

Because of the space restrictions everything in my shop needs to multi task.  If I had space to designate an area just for my workbench I would really enjoy the process of building a traditional English style woodworking bench, although I would probably go with a more American style top without the tool well. 

But for now I have adapted my workbench to the few and what I consider necessities.  For my bench top I used a solid 2/0x6/8 birch door with 4”x4” steel legs held together by 1”x1” steel welded together to form the frame.

The top is mounted on the frame and I attached a birch skirt.  The steel frame is probably a bit of overkill but I wanted a solid base to ensure that I have no movement when working.  I have also installed a shoulder vice and bench dog holes. 
Shaker Style Woodworking Bench

Based on my workbench there are several things that I would do again and several that I would change.  I like the base and will probably use it again only needing to build a top when I “upgrade” my workbench.  I also like the width, you will notice most woodworking benches are narrow, I always thought that I would want a wider bench but the 24” width I have now is perfect.  A wider bench would not allow me to work all around my work.

The solid core door has served me well but it does have its restrictions, I have to be extra careful as the top is a veneer and almost any liquids on the top can destroy the thin veneer. 
Tail Vice

As for change I would definitely go with a double screw shoulder vice, the single screw shoulder vice that I have does not provide even pressure when clamping on one end and I often have to use spacer blocks at the other end to even the pressure.  I would also add a tail vise as my woodworking develops I find that I spend more time jointing and planing my boards by hand.  A tail vise would allow me many more options for securing the boards and my work.  With my current top it was not feasible to install a tail vice but it is difficult to clamp long boards for planing.     

In the end I will close the same way as I opened in part one of this series, the perfect woodworking bench is what works best for you and your situation.  If I had all the time, space, and resources I would probably have a woodworking bench that looked like something belonging to inspector gadget but for now I am happy to continue to improve on what I have and have fun doing it.

Keep on woodworking!

Chris Adkins