Workbench Drawer

I slide the drawer open in my workbench. I do it a hundred times a day I’m sure. Once a month something I’m working on or holding in my vise gets in the way and stops me opening it. Once in 2,400 openings is not a problem yet others say it is. These others also say that it gets in the way of things held in the vise, but it never, EVER, does. But, if it did, I’d take the drawer out wouldn’t I? Imagine, after having a drawer in the apron of my bench for 50 years or so, that someone texts or comments or emails to say I have a problem. That this problem is serious enough for them to advise me. It’s silly.

How to install a retrofitted workbench drawer episode 2 is out on my YouTube channel here. The whole series went out on woodworkingmasterclasses first for free too. People have enjoyed following it and I recommend it for anyone that has built my workbench following that series too. The thing is it is a good way to learn about drawer making with half-lap dovetails and tenoned housing dadoes without it being in some precious piece you might feel sick about if the drawer doesn’t turn out perfect. Beyond the making and installing of it though, it is one of the most essential elements in my own shop and I would be struggling without it as it holds so many of my essential tools that just don’t fit anywhere else. Some will say why not have a flush handle or a hole and some will say what if you want a flush with the apron vise jaw? Well, I don’t want or like either and I do love what I have. I give my reasons on my blog elsewhere and prove my theories in my YouTube videos.

 

34 comments on “Workbench Drawer

  1. Thoroughly enjoying the drawer build and am looking forward to taking on the project on completion of my workbench! I again find it such a shame that people feel the need to put negative comments, not realising that what is important is to see what has worked for you for over 50 years! You have never said “you must do it like this, mine is the only way!” You have shown how you would do it, explained why you do it like that and that has given us the choice and new found knowledge to craft and work the wood as we want to. And to personalise the project as we see fit for our needs. My guess is, the people who watch this thinking “love the idea and the method”, will have the imagination to make adjustments needed for their personal situation without the need to then criticise what is a very personal thing to you!! Something that has served you well for over 50 years!! You encourage creativity. We need more teachers/mentors like you who show us how and are confident and passionate about your methods, and less close minded “teachers” who as far as they’re concerned any method or idea even slightly different to theirs is considered crazy!! I continue to learn and put into practise what you teach and i am very thankful for that!! Pretty sure my 18 month old daughter finds the woodshavings i get off the spokeshave magic too!!

    • I am making a ‘gallows bracket’ to give support to a small projecting roof………now of course Paul has not shown making one…BUT……I will be cutting a concave in the bottom edge, Paul gave us instruction on an arch exactly the same shape by using a number of saw cuts and a chisel, then with a spoke shave. SO AS YOU SAY IT IS UP TO US TO, IF NEED BE, ADAPT HIS TEACHING TO SUIT OUR NEEDS
      REGARDS JOHN

    • I also agree. Please never give in to those that do not have the wit to understand.
      Thank you very much for all the effort that you put into your woodworking for us that wish to and enjoy learning.

    • I can’t agree more. Sometimes I think (but of course I might be wrong) woodworking is a craft that sometimes attracts overly obsessed people, so they get frustrated by seeing a knob, seing cluttering, or anything doesn’t match an utterly perfect “scheme” so they feel outraged and start to spit their rage here on the internet.

      Or maybe they’re just internet trolls.

      Anyway I admire the way Paul faces these kind of people as a true gentleman.

      • Sometimes they troll, sometimes they’re just suggesting something else. Not really worth getting so worked up over. There will always be that around.

        Earlier today I broke the first rule of edge tools. I cut towards myself, with an axe and it was messy. I’m lucky it was only a couple stitches to remedy my knee. But man it was hard to stop the bleed.

        • You are very right about that. Just let it be.

          By the way are you ok already?

          PSA: If you cut yourself always wash the cut with saline (or clean water if you dont have saline) and dont ever use alcohol or peroxide. There is no need to wash the wound for minutes waiting for the bleeding to stop. You have to then apply firm pressure over the wound for about 5 minutes and that will stop the bleeding right away. Oh and also consider going to your health center so that doctors can evaluate the need of tetanus shots.

          • Thanks for the advice. I used detol at home called my neighbor who drove me to a clinic, they cleaned it again gave me a local and a couple stitches. I’m a bit sore today, but ok.

      • “[…] Sometimes I think (but of course I might be wrong) woodworking is a craft that sometimes attracts overly obsessed people […]”

        I think (and I might be wrong as well) you are not only right, but also touched the core of the question. Every activity carries some profiles with it. Woodworking, by its nature of exact measures and procedures, develops systematic patterns, and by seeing something that escapes this cognitive sphere (like a drawer placed in the way), one may have a cognitive disorder going on… to the point to email a teacher.

        I respect Paul even more for the energy he puts into making all this teaching online. This man is strong. Imagine every negative thought towards him when he says something that goes against someone’s principle overdeveloped throughout time. Of course the positive thinking is more powerful than negative so Paul is surround by love (at least from my part). Great man and great task.

    • I really like the drawer. It looks lovely and is functional- right there where you need it. I want to do that to my Paul Sellers style bench. I know mine will not look as nice as that one because i am new. Hopefully i will have many years ahead to practice woodworking and one day i will get better. There are too many who are quick to judge the way others are doing things. Paul is not forcing anyone to put a drawer on their workbench but surely he is allowed to make his bench how he feels fit. I have seen other you tubers just come out and say, “This is my bench plane and on this video i will restore it. If you don’t like how i am doing it, too bad!” It is kind of funny how some people think they can tell a master woodworker (Paul) how things should be done. He is the expert and is giving free lessons to everyone to his glory- maybe the people making the negative comments are jealous because they don’t have their own videos. Haha! Paul, thank you Sir for the lessons in woodworking. I started out a few years ago with my fathers old DeWalt table saw. I didn’t know or understand the importance of hand tools. I wanted to make a picture frame and i felt that a Craftsman handheld electric router could help me but I didn’t know how to use one. Thankfully there were videos on You Tube which enabled me to successfully make a picture frame. Then eventually i found your videos and now i am learning about hand tools. I record brainwaves for a living and by the time i get home i am usually too tired to work on my woodworking but i know if i am persistent i will get there. I think the Paul Sellers videos make up 95% of my you tube learning. I want to buy the books too! Thanks Paul for doing what you do!

  2. I enjoy all your posts Paul. I wish I could attend one of your courses. Keep doing exactly what you are doing. Your an excellent mentor!

  3. My first thought was “wouldn’t a pull knob possibly be in the way” but then I thought it doesn’t seem to be any further out then the saw handles that are hanging there too and they haven’t been in the way. Every once in a while a saw gets stuck behind a piece of wood but that doesn’t happen nearly enough for me to change anything. I’ve been using your bench for a few years now and love it. Probably my most reliable tool. I dont have the drawer yet but it will be my next addition to it. Keep up the great work and I’ll keep up the learning. 🙂

  4. Ignore them! Some people have a mind that is like a vise and that will get in the way of many, many things.

    I enjoy all of what you do. You remind me of a younger version of my octogenarian father who ‘just knows stuff’ and can apply it.

  5. If the drawer in your workbench is your biggest problem, then you are indeed a very fortunate man. Whenever I do anything in the shed, everything starts by re-arranging stuff so I have access to the tools required and there’s a place to work (the downside of a complete metal-, woodworking- and bicycle-shop crammed in one small shed). At the end of work, everything has to be stowed back in its place.

    I believe it’s called ‘projection’, the idea that other people are similar (in thinking, doing things, making things) to ourselves. The person pointing out their own problem with the drawer is most likely meaning well and trying to be helpful, it’s just that for somebody else’s way of work the ‘problem’ is completely a non-issue. ‘One size fits all!’ is a myth.

    And as the first commenter pointed out, I never build exactly following someone else’s plans. Actually, I’m always surprised when people ask for plans… as I gather ideas, modify designs or design my own. Much of my designs is borrowed from others’ works, with a few (or sometimes, many) changes to make the thing perfect for my personal situation, use, problems, needs, etc. That’s the nice thing about building things oneself: customization requires no extra effort or cost, just a bit of extra forethought in the planning/designing phase.

    • Couldn’t agree more: small shop, bicycles everywhere, metal- and woodworking and adapting other peoples ideas, methods, projects etc. to the own need.

      Probably one less perceived part of Mr. Sellers’ teaching method are his words: “This is MY …, you build YOURS.”
      I take that as a strong advice and encouragement to think about that a specific project, understand his approach and then alter it to fit my needs – and keep the consequences of changes in mind.

      Obviously that already became ingrained to you. 🙂

      E.

  6. Love your work Paul. Several of my other favorite maker sites are also experiencing the frustration of this negative feedback from “experts”. We all wish they would just “sit down and shut up”. Guess it makes them feel important. Don’t even acknowledge them. They don’t exist!

  7. Is it weird that I take comfort in seeing the exact same bit of marred surface where the curls near a knot wanted to start tearing out in a bit of pine I’m working on with grain just like the side of your drawer?

    One of those spots where it’s like “bleh, if I keep messing with it, it’s just gonna get a lot worse before it ever improves and it’s the mounting side wall of a drawer anyways!” so you gotta remind yourself to to move on.

    Just got a new DFM card scraper in the mail saturday, ticked the edges over with a screwdriver I use on the old paint scraper convert I use, started playing with it, love how massive and solid the scraper feels, and the pretty blue doesn’t hurt.

    But yeah, knocking the finish off some reclaimed cabinet doors before dimensioning them down for my project, had that annoying patch of roughed up grain by a knot, thought “OH BOY, I’LL GET THE SCRAPER ON IT” and every damn time it either fuzzed up or raised fuzz on a section right beside it in an endless cycle of madness before I decided to stop and be happy with it not snagging anything I drag over it.

  8. I totally understand where you are coming from, design/build from a bag of “parts” to suit your needs. However, for me, learning accuracy is my biggest challenge so adhearing to a plan is what I need to do.

    Paul, the more I learn the more I appreciate the wall clock project!! Building it you learn a ton of things (like housing dados, beading, shaping etc.. What’s amazing about it is that anyone can build it well enough to be proud of it.

  9. Paul,
    Great addition to your workbench. This blog and the start of your video Blogs are priceless. The “Pearls of Wisdom” you have given us also tells me that I can create and add anything I decide without anyone telling me otherwise. Bicycle rides, breaks, enjoying the outdoors, wildlife and the moments tell me that life is what and how I make it. Thank you…

  10. Amazing how many theoretical problems there are that don’t really happen in the day in and out of real working. I’d say if it hasn’t caused you a problem in 50+ years, it probably never will.

    A great deal of what I really like about you and what you teach is that you have 50 plus years of hands on knowledge doing it. What you do and how you do it works well. I trust that.

    The internet is full of what I call noise (endless debates). I don’t want the noise or static. I want to know what works and what some options are. Then, I can go to my workshop and try it. Things have improved over the past 3 years.

    In fact, at this point, I have absolutely no interest in other sharpening methods. You showed us one that you moved to over the course of your career and stuck with because you thought it was superior to the other ways you had tried. I believe you. Now after three years of sharpening, the diamond plates work very well for me too. The topic of sharpening is done.

  11. Dont let the inevitable know-it-alls of the internet put you off doing what you love. Your videos are an inspiration to a lot of people and if people do not enjoy them or feel the need to try to tell you that you are wrong then they have plenty of other things to watch. Why someone would think that a person would have been doing it wrong for all of those years is beyond me.. surely common sense would dictate that you had come to this through your own trial and error and wanted to show others to either help them or stop them making the same mistakes over…

  12. Surely it depends what you keep in the drawer, hence how often you need access. Everyone’s different. Some people need to keep sharp objects away from pets & toddlers. Perhaps they just meant; that particular drawer-location would be a problem for THEM? This is an imperfect communication medium.

    • Nope. That’s not what’s behind the criticisms it’s usually called fault finding or picking holes in something. If you put a drawer where it is most convenient for minute by minute use then you must do something we call forward planning or thinking ahead. I’ll need a screwdriver, I take it out of the drawer ahead of time. If I forget, then it’s a good lesson.

  13. AAAH, Nothing funnier than folk, Paul I have built the bench after following the master class and I put a draw in it similar to the one you show, coincidentally. For someone to question the veracity of a master craftsman is really silly, I thought, as that did it may get in the way, as you point out on the odd occasion it may, but, on those odd occasions we make accomodations.
    Thank you for your guidance and infomation.

    Kindest Regards
    Stephen

  14. Built a version of Paul’s smaller workbench without a vise. Figured I didn’t need it. Used holdfasts and a Moxon style vise that clamps on the benchtop, instead. They work fine.
    My reasoning was not any hard-headed bias against the vise. I just wanted to try something different. It was my first workbench without a vise.
    But I recently installed a vise that I had on hand. Exactly as Paul shows in his video. It works fine too. I have been using both vises and the holdfasts. All three have their uses.

    I initially had decided to omit the handsaw hangers and drawer because I felt that they would get in the way of clamping large panels. I just finished building a 40″ x 22″ x 27″ blanket chest and don’t think the handsaw hangers would have been in the way. Removing a few screws would clear that area if needed. And as Paul said, the drawer could be removed if the knob was in the way.
    So, I have changed my mind and am going to install both the drawer and the handsaw hangers. That will give me the full versatility of Paul’s design.

    • That’s really interesting thanks for sharing as I want to look into holdfasts and was wondering if I needed to modify the thickness of the worktop to accommodate that. How does it work for you with a tool well? The sash clamps I have don’t suit the clamp in a vice method that Paul uses and I really like the idea of holdfasts.

  15. Re: Work bench drawers
    If anyone thinks negatively about your songle drawer, they would go bonkers
    over my having 5 drawers built into my workbench plus a cabinet. My only
    regret is the quality of my drawers would be a one, while yours is ten on a scale
    of one to ten.
    Please keep on keeping on, I have learned so much from your blogs, videos, etc.

  16. I think the drawer is great. I am thinking that once I finally build my bench and add the drawer that it may also work as an extra support when putting longer pieces in the vise. I will have to wait and see. Thank you for all your hard work and passing your knowledge to the next generation.

  17. I don’t think I should be asking this here but here it goes: I was in the process of preparing myself to do this when I realized that my wife has been getting into woodworking too lately. The thing is that the the space is very small and I’ve always thought that my workbench is too big for it (I made my workbench from the old series on youtube on how to make a workbench, with the tool tray in the middle).

    The thing is that I need to think of a solution so that both of us can work independent one of another (as today we either take turns or I’m helping or watching what she does) but I’m planning to become a full time cabinet maker in a not so distant future (nothing completely decided yet, but it is a very possible option).

    Well, the thing is that, as I said, there is no more space to have other dedicated room here, so I’m wondering if I should install a vise in the oposite corner of the workbench for her in this big one, or if I should make 2 smaller workbenches (probably very small). Has anyone here “shared” a workbench with someone? I’m thinking that the company is nice but sharing the tool tray won’t be, but maybe there are way to go around it, like some small and very little depth tables against the walls on each side, only with the purpose of leaving the tools that you are using on top of them. I don’t know, what do you guys think? Also considering that she doesn’t use the room all day, just a little on weekends and a few hours after work.

  18. First thank you for all you do Paul! As many have said, very few people could do what you have done. (skill set, experience, desire etc.) But SO many of us are glad you do!
    As for the drawer I (personally) don’t care for a knob – so what!
    I am pretty sure Paul Sellers is not going to show up in my shop and tell me to change that.
    I am putting a flush pull in place… not to be contrary, but because I want to and that makes it mine!

    I LOVE what Paul says here:
    Some will say why not have a flush handle or a hole and some will say what if you want a flush with the apron vise jaw? Well, I don’t want or like either and I do love what I have.

    Maybe I am wrong and maybe sometime in the future I will change the drawer – regardless without Paul’s direction I wouldn’t have a bench OR a drawer that I made myself!

    Thank you Paul for empowering amateur crafting artisans!

You must enter certain information to comment on this page. We take the handling of personal information seriously and appreciate your trust in us. Our Privacy Policy sets out important information about us and how we use and protect your personal data and it also explains your legal rights in respect of it. Please click here to read it before you comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *