I’ve decided to build myself a proper workbench. And I’ve gotten the go ahead from my wife to build it in the living room.

Pretty much all the woodworking I’ve done up to this point has been in the shop at work, or the basement at my parent’s house. While these are both great spaces to work in, and I’m very thankful that I have the opportunity to use them, they have drawbacks. The biggest one is that I need to travel to them. This means I can only do work there if my wife is watching my daughter. If she goes out in the evenings or to work in Victoria then I can’t do any woodwork because I’m watching our daughter.

I do a lot of work with hand tools, and that is work that I can be doing in the evenings or on weekends while my daughter is sleeping or playing.

Sketchup View

This is the design I’ve settled on. It’s a folding portable bench that Roy Underhill built on ‘The Woodwright’s Shop”. There are plans for it in one of his books, but I followed a build that Steve Branam did on his blog. From seeing his build photos and descriptions and watching the episode of Woodwright’s Shop I managed to draw it up in Sketchup to the dimensions I required.

It’s lighter and smaller than most traditional benches. Which is fine because it’s meant to be portable, and will be staying in my living room. The rigidity comes from the diagonal cross bracing. I’ll be adding a lower shelf to mine as well which I can pile tools on to add weight to the bench. I’m hoping with some rubber feet it won’t scootch too much while I’m planing on it.

I don’t generally go for tool wells in benches, but I think I’ll try it with this one. It’ll catch a lot of the shavings and sawdust and keep tools from spreading to other horizontal surfaces nearby. In the shop I like to sweep the swarf onto the floor and keep the bench free of tools. I think learning to live with the tool well solutions will lead to greater marital bliss.


top assembly 3

Here are the main parts of the top. The slab and apron are just held together here by the joints in the side pieces. The main slab of the bench is 2″ thick and made of two 2×6’s glued together. The apron is another 2×6 which will get glued to the slab. The dog hole spacing is layed out for the Gramercy tools holdfasts and a Veritas wonder dog. I’ll put a crochet on the left end of the apron as well.

The well board has a tongue that runs all the way around it, and fits into grooves on the back of the slab, the sides and the back board. This keeps the top aligned and stops the thin (3/4″) well board from cupping, while letting it expand and contract. The sides are dovetailed into the slab (half-blinds) and into the back board (through dovetails) to keep things locked together back to front. The main slab has the tongue cut onto the ends to fit the side boards as well. The dovetails are the only part that will be fixed with glue. The groove is kept dry so both slab and well board can expand.

It’s a strong joint so it makes sense. I’ve never cut dovetails before so this project gave me a chance to try them out. I didn’t make as big a mess of them as I thought I would. They were a bit gappier than I wanted at the bottom, but they were still mallet snug.

first through dovetails

first dovetails

I have lots of epoxy left from the canoe so when I do glue these up I think I’ll use that. It’s much better at gap filling any other type of glue used for wood.