My Workbench Build

Forum: Workshop

Some of you here already know from elsewhere.
I just thought I’d start off by posting my current progress on my current project.

After a few years in woodworking, I am finally building a work bench. It is made of what material I had plenty of on hand, cottonwood. When I’m done I plan on staining it and putting some kind of finish on it. I still have quite a few things to do before getting to that though.

Update 4/9/14

I bored the dog holes yesterday. I’m moving slow today and have only gotten the small vice mounted. Those twenty three quarter inch holes through five inches if wood yesterday whipped my butt.

Update 4/11/14

It took almost three quarts of stain yesterday to stain the bench the color I wanted. I forgot how much edge and end grain can soak the stuff up.
I stained it with minwax dark walnut stain. Next I am giving it a bath in boiled linseed oil (BLO).

Update 4/14/14

Here are the drawers done on one side. I decided to leave the drawers light colored for a contrast to the bench. Then I added sapelle strip handles for a dark contrast to the drawers. I will finish these with BLO after I finish building all the drawers for the other side.

Update 4/16/14

I’ve got all the drawers done on the other side of the bench now.
I need to put finish on all the drawers.

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.


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78 Replies

BarbS ...

I had not seen this before, William. It looks Super Sturdy. Very nice.

Bobcat ...

William——looks like a beast; I don’t think you can have too heavy of a bench. I am waiting to see how you finish it.

woodpecker1 ...

I like it William. Beastly.

Ashdigger ...

Very nice William.
I need something more along that line than my cheesy work table.


MontyJ ...

William, I have some questions about your bench. I see a lot of split top benches and wonder what is the reason for that? Also, with your vice, do you anticipate any cambering problems if you clamp something that doesn’t go all the way down to the guides?

William ...

Thank you all.
I have been considering building a proper bench for a long time. I finally just bit the bullet and went for it. It started with no plans besides the ideas in my head that I have gleemed from looking at other’s benches.

The reason for the split bench is mainly for clamping reasons. If you build a wide bench (this one is thirty two inches wide total) and try to clamp anything small with bar clamps to the top, it presents a problem. With the split in the middle though, you can run clamps down through it and clamp in the middle if you need.
I also have an alternate reason though. I am the world’s worst about knocking things off my bench, or allowing things like chisels to roll off. I plan on making tool tills that fit down into the middle void to hold tools for a variety of project. For example, I’ll have one for bench chisels, one for carving chisels, one for router bits, etc.
As for the cambering issues, I’ve had that issue in the past and have a solution that has worked for me for some time. I’m sure you noticed the block that is screwed to the outer jaw with the dog holes in the top of it? I use an eighth inch thick strip of wood to intentionally camber it out at the top when I screwed it to the jaw. The thickness came from experimentation with this particular vice. Others may be different. That eight inch camber on the top makes the vice clamp evenly if you really clamp down hard on it. Meanwhile, it forces the top of the jaw to make contact first if you only wish to gently clamp something in the top part of the jaws.

kdc68 ...

William…handsome bench. How is cottonwood to work with?

William ...

I like cottonwood.
It is considered a hard wood, but it isn’t actually much harder than pine in my opinion.
There are two things to watch for from my experience when working with cottonwood though.
1. Make sure your tools are sharp. If they are not, you’ll get grainy tearout that will feather it up so bad that it’s hard to sand it completely flat without sanding half the wood away.
2. It is said that cottonwood takes a certain smell from the soil surrounding the roots. Most of the time, I think the smell while cutting it smells similar to beeswax. Other times though it smells like a cow backed up to it and done it’s business. After working it and applying finish, there is no noticeable smell at all.

SPalm ...

That is sweet William. That puppy looks stout.
Having a really heavy bench is so nice. It just stays there.

And that looks like a nice pile-o-lumber over on the right. I’m jealous.


MontyJ ...

Thank you William. Now I understand. That’s the reason I joined here. The forum is much smaller. Had I asked it on “another” site, you may not have had (or taken) the time to explain it as well.

Wonder if you found a cottonwood near a BBQ joint…oh my

Steve ...

Very nice. It looks very stout, but elegant at the same time. All of the sudden it feels like I might need to upgrade my bench. I got the stout part down, but I was learning too many lessons at the time to make it asthetically pleasing. You’ve got both down.

William ...

Thank you.

grizzman ...

yes sir, stout is the word for this one, im happy for you william, i know when i made mine a while back it sure felt good to have it, and i enjoyed the build all the up, will look forward to when its finished…

William ...

Thanks Grizz.
Still got a ways to go.
Besides stain and finish, I still have another vice to mount.
I’ve also got twelve drawers, six per side, to make, unless I change that.
I have thought about on one side making, instead of the six, shallow long drawers to hold my hand planes.

Dave Bardin ...

I love it William! Really nice work.