How to build a workbench video – with Paul Sellers (part 1)

NOTE:Just so you know, this is an older workbench series. Paul has a newer Workbench series. If you are interested in the updated version of Paul’s workbench please click the button down below. This page links to a cutting list, tools list, FAQS and much more.

This upcoming series of short videos give the elements of making your own woodworking workbench from readily available wood bought from just about any DIY wood store. The sizes can be easily scaled to suit your workspace so it does not need to be 8′ long or 38″ high as mine is. This is a traditional design using traditional materials and only hand tools that can be obtained secondhand or new. Follow me and I will make it as simple as possible as I go.


  1. Hi Paul,
    this is certainly a knock your socks of project.
    Have bought and glued the top, its made up of 3 lengths of 90*70 mm  SRN. I have used pipe clamps since they are very flexible and really clamp up. I’m worried about chopping the mortices in wood that size, the legs are the same dimensions.

    1. You will soon see how quick and simple this is with nothing more than a bevel-edged chisel and a panel beater’s hammer. Oh, BTW I really like pipe clamps as they work so well. Here in the UK they re not so readily available so we use the Alluminium (Aluminum US) ones you see in the video. The work fine but the stick a bit and the tommie bars with plastic ends come apart all the time, which makes them a bit awkward. This project will be very expansive as we will be growing tool storage and the bench is a knock-down version so it can be transported, stored or moved into an awkward space as needed.

      1. Hi Paul,
        there we go, unclamped and the little irregularities planed smooth. Great!

  2. Perseverance brings results. The tops are glued and now we have more to come.

  3. It’s worked for me for 48 ears and it worked for the man who showed it to me when he was 78 and had used it since he was 13. So, almost 115 years.

  4. I am certain hardwood benches work,indeed I know they do because if used them, but they are expensive, unnecessary and beyond the masses of woodworkers . I want something that gets them started more readily and something they build to last them a lifetime if need be.

  5. The radius you tal of is not so much, I know it means knocking off an 1/8″ but it can be done quite quickly after glue up or before. I would shoot for after and use a #4 smoother with a radiused iron. In softwoods that will knock it down in about 20 minutes. Then follow with a regular iron. I keep two irons for my #4, one with a regular straight edge and the other with a slight radius. It works great.

  6. Hi Paul.

    I really enjoyed the video. I am going to have to make a real workbench for myself now. Thank you.

    Is it important to apply glue to both sides of the joint or it doesn’t matter? I thought I saw you glue one of them with glue on only one surface and rest with glue on both surfaces.


    1. No, one side is enough, I had one flipped the wrong way. Just don;t starve the joint.

  7. Hi Paul,

    You may have mentioned this in the video, but are you using 2 x 4’s or 2 x 3’s in the video?


    Brandon Avakian

    1. For the tops I am using 2×3’s, but UK 2×3’s are 1 3/4″ by 2 3/4″ when planed. This stock is actually skimmed and so it measures nearly full size at around 1 7/8″ by 2 7/8″. You need only 2 1/2″ of finished thickness for the benchtop sections.

  8. Hi Paul,
    Just wanted to say thanks for sharing your wisdom and no-nonsense approach to woodworking in general, and this bench build in particular.Joe B..

  9. Where did you get that wood? It’s not really super clear stock, which you mention… I can find stuff that’s just a little worse than that amazingly. But the flatness / lack of bows and such seems pretty great for big box store stuff. At least in the States. Just curious. It does look a little like the “whitewood stud” or eastern white pine that the big orange store carries around here, just quite straight. Also, are 2×4’s acceptable instead of 2×3’s? Does the added depth of the benchtop matter much, assuming you use the same for your aprons?

    1. 2×4 (4×2 UK) studs here in the UK are clearer and straighter than on the USA, mostly because of growth patterns and the different species. It seems that in the last decade or so Home Depot and Lowes have consistently lowered the standards and thereby the expectations of their customers but kept the prices higher as demand remains. It’s the same with the UK’s equivalent stores of B&Q and Jewsons in some measure. But as with everything there are usually some smaller groups running at a more local level that maintain some level of ethics. These are the ones to shop with. No, they are not perfect, but you can talk to a person that may know something rather than a big box clone who is trained to believe they know more than the customer or that they should at least act as though they do.

      1. Yeah I have looked into a few local places. The lumber mills here either carry no softwood on purpose because of demand in the US or they only do S4S clear pine that they sell for about $65 per 8′ 2×3 (3×2 UK). Are 2×4 (4×2) OK to use instead of 2×3/3×2? I think the Lowe’s stock of that is worse than the rest here because it doesn’t get resupplied as often. Lowe’s does have decent 1x stuff in pine meant for small project work. I actually found one of the rising saw makers on the Internet lives very close to me, and he advised that it’s not worth it to try and find usable pine around here, and he uses poplar from a mill that does only hardwoods. Of course that does not make for a super cheap bench. My SYP / EWP from the bigger chains may have to do, dozens of hours of planing required or not.

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