Accessibility Statement

HOW TO BUILD A PORTABLE WORKBENCH



Completed portable workbench


The bench consists of seven pieces of wood and wooden screws, providing several clamping options. Dog holes along the bench allow even more clamping options. Maple is a good choice of wood, as is beech, walnut or any other dense hardwood. Wooden threads provide enough clamping pressure and, as long as they are not overtightened, will work well and last indefinitely.

Material List:


Back 1-3/4” × 2-3/8” × 28”
Middle 1-3/4” × 1-7/8” × 21”
Front 1-3/4” × 1” × 30”
Ends 1-3/4” × 1” × 8” (2 pieces left longer to flush up at end)
Spacer 1-3/4” × 1-1/2” × 2-1/16”
Vise 1-3/4” × 2-5/8” × 4-3/4”
Handles 1-1/2” × 1-1/2” × 3” (made into an octagon shape)
Pin Card 1-3/4” × 1/4” × 2”
Dowel Rods 1” diameter (preferably cherry or other hardwood)

Methodology:

  • Mark pieces with cabinetmaker’s triangles

  • Pay attention to orientation and where machining takes place (for example, right side, back, etc.)

  • Rout a 1/2” groove 3/8” deep and 7-1/4” long in the back and 8-1/4” on the right sides of the front pieces to accommodate the sliding vise

  • After the grooves are cut, glue the back and middle pieces together

Portable Workbench 
  • Create a bridle joint in the end pieces and on the front piece

  • Drive a 3/8” dowel through the joint after it has been glued later on

  • Bore 7/8” holes in the front piece to accommodate threads for vertical clamping; space these starting on the left 4-1/2”, 4”, 4” and 4-1/2”

  • Using a tap, thread the holes (apply wax to the tap to ease the process)

  • Using 3 screws, #8 × 2”, assemble the left side of the bench, gluing and screwing the end piece

  • Create the tenons on the ends of the vise block, which are 1/2” wide and 3/8” deep (make sure the vise slides in the grooves without any slop)

  • Dry assemble the right side of the bench and mark the hole for the threads on the end piece; drill and tap this 7/8” hole

  • Dry assemble the bench again and mark the hole in the vise block

  • Drill the vise block hole 3/4” × 1-1/8” deep

  • Using a 1/4” bit in the router, create a groove in the vise block that is 2” long and 1-1/2” deep and spaced 1/4” in from the end

  • Using the lathe, remove the threads from one end of the screws and create a 3/4” stub tenon to fit into the handles

Close-up view of stub tenon 
  • Create a 3/4” stub tenon in the opposite end of the long rod only

  • Create a 1/2” groove in the middle of that stub tenon for the pinning card that allows you to move the vise block back and forth

Stub tenon with pining card inserted

Final Assembly:

  • Using clamps, dry fit all pieces together

  • Drill and bolt the spacer block in place with a 5/16” x 3-1/2” lag bolt and washer

  • Disassemble the pieces and apply glue to the spacer block and bridle joint

  • Use 2 screws #8 × 2”

  • Drill a 3/8” hole through both bridle joints and pin with a dowel

  • Apply wax to the bottom of the pinning card and glue it in place securing the screw

  • Make handles for the threaded rods and drill 3/4” holes in one end of each

  • Use epoxy to glue the rods into the handles

  • Drill 3/4” holes in the middle piece, as well as one in the vise block

  • Start the first hole 2-3/4” in from the left side and space the remaining holes 4” apart

  • Drill the hole in the vise block in line with the rest of the dog holes

Use a jointer plane to flatten the bench. First run the plane diagonally across the bench, then diagonally the opposite way, and finally straight along the bench. This bench can be finished using any durable finish such as Danish oil or the more popular oil and wax finishes that are readily available. Attach angle brackets in appropriate locations to clamp the bench to any appropriate surface.

Bench Accessories:

Assortment of bench accessories 

Most 3/4” bench accessories will work, including the following:

  • 3/4” Veritas Bench Anchor

  • 1” Flat Head Fastener for Veritas Bench Anchor

  • Veritas Bench Blade, 3/4” Wedge Lock Post

  • Veritas Round Bench Pups

Text and photos by Steven Der-Garabedian

Tools for this Project

Bessey UniKlamps holding a workpiece

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Bessey UniKlamp

From: $27.50

06J8006 - Set of 6 Forstners - HSS

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Set of 6 Imperial HSS Forstner Bits

$71.50

Applying 2002 GF glue to a piece of wood

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Lee Valley Cabinetmaker's Glue 2002 GF

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17K2202 - Biscuit & Roller Glue Applicator Set

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Biscuit & Roller Glue Applicator Set

$15.90

Drilling countersunk holes in the end of a board

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Quick-Change Drill/Countersink Set

$29.95

Flush-cutting plugs with a Veritas Flush-Cut Saw

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Veritas Double-Edge Flush-Cutting Saw

$37.50

41K3001 - Hardwood Rod 1/4" x 1'

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Dowel Rods

From: $1.10

53Z3205 - Beeswax Polish, 1.75 oz

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Beeswax Polish

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05G0403 - 2 3/8" Bench Pup, each

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Veritas Round Bench Pups

From: $16.90