The Ultimate Workbench

Last October, immediately following Woodworking in America (and some goading from Aaron Marshall) I began my bench build in earnest. I took the front-to-back stretcher panels I had previously made and begain to re-design around them. I also switched my intended front vice from a Veritas Twin-Screw to a leg vise. In order to make the leg vise, I bought a Lee Valley tail vise screw and an 8” cast iron handwheel from Grizzly. It took them both to a machinist I know and viola! They fit and work together.
The Lee Valley Tail Vise Screw

Then it got cold and I put the bench away for the winter so that I could insulate the shop.

I’ve been working on the insulation since early November and my shop has been pressed against the non-opened up wall since then. In that time I’ve completely re-wired the shop and brought outside wall to R-40.
The shop wall, today.
I’ve also learned that I can be productive without a fancy pants bench. In fact, when I was walking through Home Depot recently, I found an American made beauty of a bench and bought it on the spot.

Why did I buy it? Many reasons. It beats all the shop made and high end benches I’ve ever seen on so many levels.

  • No futzing with those hard to make mortise and tenon joints. This bench is even stronger with butt joints reinforced with two (2) cheap screws.
I dare you to find stronger, simpler joinery.
  • A square edge for clamping and referencing? Not on this bad boy. The top has been rounded so that even silky smooth woodworker hands will love to caress it.
No splinters from that beautiful edge
  • Does that big twin-screw of leg vise get in the way, always banging your thigh as you walk past your bench? Well who needs it? One of the most wonderful parts of this bench is that it pares down all the clutter of modern benches to the pure functional core. That’s why you’ll not find a face or end vise on this gem. Your thighs will thank you.
  • The bench as a 3 dimensional clamping surface? Really? Who needs to clamp in 3 dimensions? Wood is only 2 dimensional, and so is my clamping. That’s why this bench is so great. Having its legs set back from the front apron and it’s leg attachment bolts set proude of the front apron make it virtually impossible to clamp to the front face.
Inset legs and proud bolts prevent the user from making any
face clamping mistakes.
  • Apparently, heavy benches are all the rage these days with bench evangelists like Chris Schwarz talking up the benefits of a massive bench with a thick (but not too thick) top. Needing a massive bench is the oldest old wives tale in the woodworking book. All you need to do for any bench is stand on it while working and it won’t move an inch.
No stupidly thick and complicated top here!
  • Deal with a complicated bench top glue up to only follow it by flattening the top by hand? Not with this beauty. A single piece of good old fashioned ¾” OSB is all the top you need. It comes dead flat from factory. In fact, just about the only way to warp this top would be to stand on it.
  • Are the pieces you build too big? Not with this bench. The convenient rear lip prevents pieces from hanging over the back. No longer will you be building those hideous, gianormous chests of drawers and tables.
There rear lip is so awesome, it intimidated the camera so much
the photo came out  blurry.
So now that my bench saga is done, I couldn’t be happier. I ended up with the perfect bench, it only took minutes to assemble and I only spend $70.00 on the whole thing.
Behold the majestic beauty.
Now, what should my next project be? Maybe I’ll pick up a laser guided circular saw and make some decorative boxes.


Edit: The original post date was 4/1/12.