Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 4, Issue 2
   November 2009
   Workbench Accessories

  The author's completed workbench
  The author's completed workbench.
Before I set out to make a workbench a few years back, I asked myself two questions: "What do I need?" and "What do I want?" My need list was easy. After working on the rock-solid benches at Rosewood Studio School of Fine Woodworking in Almonte, Ontario, I knew that my bench had to be flat, sturdy, well equipped with good vises and built for my 5'9" frame. I pored through books, websites and magazines before compiling my want list: a board jack, a twin-screw end vise and lots of bench dogs.

I sourced my materials, bought the vise hardware and then proceeded to make a set of sketches detailing critical measurements. Satisfied that I had fully addressed my want list, I turned my attention to the decorative aspects of the bench. I wanted to give its modern components a vintage feel. I eventually decided that the best way to achieve this was to embed the vise hardware within the wood of the jaws and to conceal all of the mechanical parts behind a brass plate.

Outrigger for chisels   Front skirt clamping
Outrigger for chisels.   Front skirt clamping.

The bench itself is basically a skirted slab on a trestle base. It has front and end vises and two rows of bench dog holes to line up with the dogs in each vise jaw. Because I wasn't working from a set of finished plans, I was free to make impromptu changes as I went. I added an outrigger along the back edge for chisels, a built-in paper supply to protect the top while gluing, two movable light sources and dog holes on the front face of the skirt for clamping long boards when I'm planing by hand. Just for fun, I made three kinds of bench dogs and used bullet catches to hold them in place.
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