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.
author's completed workbench.
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.
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.