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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All,
I am moving from dabbling in woodworking to taking it seriously and would like to learn how to build a good workbench. I've begun reading Scott Landis' book on the subject. I will probably read at least 1 other book on the topic.

I can't afford to spend more than $500, so a huge solid maple top is out of the question.

If you guys were building your own workbench:
1. What would it look like it look like? What features would it have?
2. What materials and hardware would you use?

So far, I like the Tage Frid design, but am still reading to see if there's more I should consider. I'd probably want to add drawers down the road.

What's a good cheap source of bench vise hardware? It seems like all the vendors are charging $100 or more for a giant metal screw. I'll accept that if that's what I have to pay for good vise hardware, but really? Are there cheaper alternatives?

What hardware would you choose if you had $500 total for a bench?

I don't have any special needs. I want to build furniture and an occasional decorative box or gift for family and friends.

What wood would you use for the top? Would I really notice a difference between maple and pine or fir for the top?

I might use maple for the vise ends as they could undergo more stress although soft wood may be better for a vise grip.

I plan on doing a bit more reading before purchasing materials. I am just getting started on planning my projects for the new year and was hoping to tap the wisdom of the more experienced woodworkers.

Thank you!!!
Steven
 

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I just built this bench a couple weeks ago...

americanwoodworker.com/blogs/projects/archive/2009/03/04/tom-s-torsion-box-workbench.aspx

So far I really like it. I love the tail vice. I bought a really cheap face vice and I allready hate it. Its absolute junk. I will be upgrading it very soon so definately get good vice hardware the first time around. You could use just about anything for the top with this design if you didnt want to use the plywood that it calls for. If I had to do it over again I would have made it a bit taller. I am 6-2 and this is a little too short for me. I'm gonna put a block under the feet for now. My total cost building this exactly as the plans show was $250.
 

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where's my table saw?
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Cheapest vs good

There are magnificent benches, a few on here, there are good benches some on this site, and there are utilitarian benches also here.
Myself, I use 2 types of benches. (1) An assembly/outfeed table with a solid core door on 2 file cabinets covered with hard board so the glue and paint can be scraped off. (2) A hard maple laminated top 3" thick with a woodvise also on 2 file cabinets since they support the bench real well and provide great rolling drawer storage underneath. You can use up to 4 files underneath if you want. Used at $75.00. Nothing fancy and a combination of wood doors and office supply metal. A great project is always to make your own bench and there are a zillion plans, photos images on the net. Google Images will show you:
http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&...aq=1&aqi=g2&aql=&oq=wooden+workbench&gs_rfai=
You may decide you want an assembly table and a workbench like I have...I donno? ;) bill
 

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For $500 you might check out the bench's at Grizzly.com

Nothing against buying one, but it's really fun building your own. I have built one and am already itching to build another. My current bench build is actually repurposing a kitchen island taken out of a remodel. All I really have to do is add the top and vices..
 

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In my shop, I use my outfeed table as my workbench. It's basically a wooden frame with two layers of MDF on the top with a sheet of 1/4" hardboard covering them that is removable when it gets scratched up or paint gets spilled on it. I trimmed the edges with a piece of 3/4" fir and it looks and does it's job plenty well for me.

You could build the framing out of 3/4" birch (easily gotten out of one sheet, thats $35), then two sheets of MDF for the top and another for the shelf down below at $28 each, the sheet of hardboard is probably $15. The fir is probably $8 tops for enough to wrap the top. Thats about $142. Then the screws and glue aren't much.

I built my framing out of 1x4 pine which would be a little more expensive, the difference is really cosmetic.



It has kept me happy for quite a while.

Notice that I let the right side of the top hang over quite a bit more than the left. I did this with plans of adding a vice to it but I have never gotten arount to it.

I would suggest starting out with this and saving the money for a nice looking bench for tools!

I blogged a bit about my outfeed/workbench table on my blog here, if you would like to take a look.
 

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where's my table saw?
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This is the one I made, and it didn't cost me much :

from finewoodworking
http://www.finewoodworking.com/getting-started/season-two.asp
its near the bottom in the list

I don't think you could make a more solid and sturdy workbench with the threaded rods that are used in it. Beware though, that the rods can be a bit of a pain to work with.

It only has room for one vice though, which can be modified I'm sure.

I personally don't see why a workbench should have to be solid hardwood unless one has access to the stuff on the cheap or just wants a beautiful looking workbench/can afford it. MDF or ply would make a much better top, and 4x4 legs with 2x4 braces will do just by fine for the frame.
 

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Creative sawdust maker
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I'm not sure but I suspect this bench (or some modification) can be built for less than $500. It's called the New-Fangled workbench and is made of fir. Here is a link to a video and you can get a pdf of the plans at the site if you're interested.
http://www.finewoodworking.com/Workshop/WorkshopArticle.aspx?id=28530

I built this one earlier this year and I think I spent less than $250. I documented my build and thoughts on it here: http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f13/new-fangled-workbench-15121/
 

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I just finished this bench it was made out if some old lumber I bought at an auction. The drawer glides came out if a bathroom remodel the caster came from another job the top is 3 sheets of 3/4 plywood trim in oak. There are 2 vise one my friend gave me the other I found in a garage of a house was cleaning out to resell the corner are 4x4 post to support it good I only spent around $100 for the bench but it took my several years of collect thing to have all the pieces
 

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johnep
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Cheapest workbench I had was an old door covered with hard board, attached to the wall of the shed with brackets and supported at front edge by legs from some old framing. Cost less than $10 and gave years of service.
johnep
 

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JavaGeek, you said you dabble in wood work, I'm a newbie and need a workbench, outfeed table, just to name a couple of the many things I need. I intend to build instead of buy for the experience. However as much as I need these things, I want to get a few small wood working projects under my belt to figure out what I really need based on the way I want to work or what works for me.

So if you lack the experience, wait, come up with some quick make shift solutions to get by, make lots of notes, and put a lot of thought into the work bench. You are already way ahead of me, you actually bought a book and have read it, so you obviously are on the right track. Notice also that many of the really experienced WT guys responding have built more than one bench, because either their needs or their design evolved. Keep that in mind, so instead of dropping $500 consider $200 on that first bench and after using it for a year or two then you will know exactly what you need.
 

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glh17
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I built this one earlier this year and I think I spent less than $250. I documented my build and thoughts on it here: http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f13/new-fangled-workbench-15121/
Thanks for the link. I'll keep it. Sometime over the next few years I'd like to build one of those. I have a decent bench top (Sjoberg) on a Noden-A-Justa bench. It has two vices and dog holes and the height is adjustable, but it's fairly lightweight for much handwork. The NF bench is much more versatile.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Square vs Round pegs

Hello All,
Thanks for the numerous responses and great information.

I noticed that some benches have round bench dog holes and others have square holes.

Are square holes preferred over round ones? It doesn't seem much more difficult to make one vs the other. Since nearly every bench dog accessory I see is 3/4" and round, I assumed that would be the best choice.

Am I missing something?

Thanks!!
Steven
 

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where's my table saw?
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Round holes are far easier

I misplaced my square hole drill about 50 years ago and I haven't seen it since. :eek: They are easier to put square pegs in though. Seriously, if you think about making a square hole in the middle of a bench after it's been constructed, it's pretty labor intensive. If you can plan it out ahead of time and just leave gaps in the laminations where you want the square holes then that would be the easiest, rather than chiseling out the corners in a round hole. ;) bill
use these: http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2081320/30476/Pinnacle-Brass-Bench-Dogs-34in-Dia.aspx
 

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I misplaced my square hole drill about 50 years ago and I haven't seen it since. :eek: They are easier to put square pegs in though. Seriously, if you think about making a square hole in the middle of a bench after it's been constructed, it's pretty labor intensive. If you can plan it out ahead of time and just leave gaps in the laminations where you want the square holes then that would be the easiest, rather than chiseling out the corners in a round hole. ;) bill
use these: http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2081320/30476/Pinnacle-Brass-Bench-Dogs-34in-Dia.aspx
Sure, round holes are easier to make than square ones. Nevertheless the old european benches have square holes, must be for a reason? A square dog in a square hole hold the workpiece much more securily. A round dog can twist in the hole. Even better if you make the square holes with a little angle, maybe 10 deg, when you apply pressure with the vise the dogs will be pressed downwards and secure the workpiece tightly to the bench.
 

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.......What's a good cheap source of bench vise hardware? I'll accept that if that's what I have to pay for good vise hardware, but really? Are there cheaper alternatives?

NO there ain't !!! My Harbor freight alternative lasted about 5 usages. Tony B
Here is my bench. It's quick and easy to build (1 day should do it), its very sturdy, very heavy and of reasonable cost. I have learned that the 'cheapest' is rarely the way to go. http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/members/tony-b-5040/albums/workbench/
 

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I built my workbench without spending a dime! My community is still building houses and the next street over is scrap wood heaven! lol
I asked the guys there and they said take what I want because it's all going in the trash anyway. So I was able to build my bench with all the scrap wood from there. I'll be collecting more when they frame another house. lol
 

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Cheap work bench???... I bult three 48x96 work benches for the price of a couple pounds of screws and casters...

I work part time at a movie set and when the show is over it's like Christmas in July!

1" melamine top and 2x4 frame... Sure, they aren't fancy but having plenty of surface to build on that that also double as uan outfeed table (all my tools set at the same height) is great...

If your on a budget be on the look out for "scraps & trash"... It's amazing what some people throw away!

Sorry it's not a great pict of the table, but it's under the router table I'm building... Also from movie scraps...

Cheers!
 

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It's amazing what you can build for under a hundred bucks, go on youtube and google search workbenches. I'm sure you can build something within your means/budget and still have a solid workbench. Yocalif makes a great point, start out with a build that suits your budget, space, current/future projects in mind.

Tony, your workbench design is very similar to mines. I like the heavy duty construction, you can tell it can take a beating. My workbench doubles as an out feed table. I have a second workbench that is 4'x7', I use this bench for assembly, staging, glue ups, finish work. I use a 1/2" MDF for the top, after specific projects I just bust out the orbital sander and the surface comes out clean as new.
 
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