Curious what other folks are using for workbenches

(William Adams) #1

(xpost from the Shapeoko forums)

For a long while now I’ve been contemplating finding room for a woodworking-specific workbench. Have been considering “The Milkman’s Bench”:

and went so far as to buy that issue of Popular Woodworking and draw up my own version.

Not having luck finding time for that though, but need something more useful than the Workmate clone to break stock down w/, so have been considering alternatives.

Have pretty much worked up a clone of the Mikman’s bench which:

  • uses pieces from the hardware store
  • is pretty much boot-strapped using said clamps and some basic tools
  • should be quite inexpensive to build

and was curious if anyone else was in a similar situation and would be interested in helping work out the kinks in this plan.

(Luke) #2

Sounds interesting, currently I have a chipboard worktop ontop of some units. Only this weekend did I add some home made drawers

For a while now I’ve been wanting to make my own workbench for the other side of my garage, one out of solid wood and multiple areas for storage and inbuilt tool holes for things like a table saw and router jig. I’d also like the option for work holding and more. Underneath I wanted a mix of racking and drawers + space for a dust vac that can be moved onto any of my cutting devices. Are you keen for yours to be portable?

(William Adams) #3

I have a fixed bench at one of the laundry room in the basement, but live in a small house, and haven’t been able to work out a way to have a second one with workholding anywhere reasonable. I guess ideally I’d have:,46158,56642

(funny that the first mention of Hammacher Schlemmer I can recall was from a book noting them as an importer of fine woodworking tools from England)

Ironic that apparently the base for the Studley workbench is somewhere in New England being used as a dressing table (as noted in the book ).

but that’s probably not happening until after I retire — until then I do most of my woodworking on the back deck, and I’m getting tired of using a Workmate clone. Also, we’ve been visiting my mother-in-law quite a bit lately, and while it’s nice when I have occasion to use his shop, it’s pretty much set up for power tools.

So yeah, it’s got to be portable.

(Daniel Loughmiller) #4

I too work out of my laundry room. I built these simple shop cabinets which quickly got loaded up with tools but at least I have a dedicated spot for my shapeoko. I even ran some pvc ducting behind the cabinets so I can plug a hose in right next to the machine now.

My workbench is a simple 2x4 construction. It originally had 1 bottom shelf, then I added another, then the shelves were just random junk so I added 2 drawers and so far I’m happy with that configuration.

(Scott Conant) #5

My woodworking bench is my table saw. (Extra piece of MDF on top for a work space and lots of creative hold down methods…lol) Very inconvenient, but I don’t have a lot of space either…especially when my XXL takes up so much space…

(William Adams) #6

May have to try building something like this:

(Scott Conant) #7

Oh! I like that Will! I’ll have to make that one of my next top 10 projects…after my Honey-Do list… LOL!

(mikep) #8

The pegboard on the cabinet doors is a great idea!

(Brash Timbers) #9

RE: building benches based on magazine articles (“things I never thought anyone actually built”)… I did manage to complete a pretty solid bench by Richard Romanski and Popular Mechanics:

It requires laminated veneer lumber (LVL) joists and a planer, but the result is quite visually pleasing (pseudo butcher block) and it’s certainly weighty. My main complaint is that the LVL is relatively soft (susceptible to dings) and I have not yet ponied up for the appropriate hold-downs ($$$).
Plans are available at Popular Mechanics:

The SO3XL is sitting on this now but I’m hoping to move that to a dedicated bench (wider and longer).

(Daniel Loughmiller) #10

Thanks Mike. Yeah working in such a small space you really scrape for every bit of storage. The ceiling is unfinished and I’ve started using the space between the joists for storage as well.

(mikep) #11

Between the rafters is one of my favorites… Lots of space there that gets unused. My current shop has a closed ceiling and I miss the space for all the long stuff. Had to substitute hanging 8" PVC tubes to hold long stock.

(Phil Thien) #12

I also like overhead storage but often can’t find stuff up there. I’ve been witnessed walking around the basement lookup straight up with a bewildered look on my face. More than once.


Trays in slides between the joists and drop down trays (four bar linkage) between the joists are a GOOD THING. Most of my trays are labeled so I don’t need to search much. Larger and more frequently used tools (like hand planes and hand saws) are visible on hangers or shelves. Stock is, to the extent possible, visible on hooks. Smaller diameter stock (round, square, hex) and welding rods are in tubes, but, where possible, labelled or clear tubes for visibility. All between the joists

I could never go back to a finish ceiling in a shop, especially a basement with low clearance. There isn’t enough wall for this stuff, and being able to reach up and grab what I need rater then find a drawer or cabinet is so, so nice. Careful planning and a willingness to rearrange means that most tools and stock are located where I will need them.

My benches (the original point of the thread) are a nice commercial steel framed for electronics work and general small work, an old steel desk (800mm X 1800mm top) with high quality 19mm 11 ply finish plywood for a top (desk was free and plywood for the top was cheap… box store got it in and it was apparently too good for them so they sold several flats for half the price of D-grade sheathing) for general wood work… has a nice vise on it as well as a planing stop and a bunch of deck screws for stops as well.

Also have one lathe (10" atlas 48"bed) mounted on an old typing table (steel with heavy laminated top), drill presses on a modern 1250mm long bamboo top tool cabinet/bench, vises on several benches as well as on a workmate frame, and Nomad on a workmate frame with a drawer tooling chest (600 deep, 550mm wide, 80mm tall, heavy steel, drawers are 80mm wide… made for collets, I use it for small endmills and shanked drills (1/8", 3/32", 3mm and 1.5mm shank tooling, primarily) under the nomad. Also have a 650mm deep, 2000mm long layout table with a vinyl drafting surface over old school linoleum (asbestos fiber hard desktop laminate). The layout table has made me a LOT of money over the years doing work that could theoretically be done faster and cheaper by a CAD/CNC than me doing it by hand (stencil cutting, machine bolt hole layout, and so on), but the real world still makes me more economical an many cases.

Also a shaving horse, a couple sawhorses, an uncommitted classic (cast aluminum) workmate for general use, and my back patio.

I guess my point is that there are as many solutions as there are workers, and that too much effort in a particular direction, without a good feel for the work and flow, may hurt in the long run. Go simple, fast, and cheap in a functional mockup kind of way before going fancy.

A bench is a personal thing, and based on what it will be used for and who it will be used by.

(Jude Marleau) #14

My bench is hand milled 2 1/2" x whatever boards, first one screwed to wall studs w/a full length header under it and 3 “arms” 2x4’s nailed to the studs reaching out the depth of the bench and then to the legs, than each top board is screwed the the previous one. I was able to work on the bench to mill each board as I built it. So in building a bench without a bench to built on, I built the bench I was building on the bench I was building as I built the bench that I was building on. It’s a wonderful bench that I rarely see because I am always building something else on the bench that I built to build everything else on. It was all free scavenged lumber, waste 14’ edge cut offs from a local millwright shop. Jude