John has proven my bench making how-to by completing the whole workbench replete with a clear, water-based finish before he left today. Filming prevents full-time making for him and Hannah and John sitting in on the filming with his background as an apprentice and maker helps with suggestions for clarity and ideas on what not to miss.

His bench exemplifies fine craftsmanship with protruding tenons formed and made without the benefit of a workbench and true vise to rely on. A bench stands a few meters away but John is on his knees on the concrete throughout the making as he determines the rite of passage for new bench makers to establish a first workstation without one, just for the challenge. It’s fun and even I at 70 would do the same.

The bench is tidy, as we in England might say. Tidy means good, exemplary, modest and honest. I would say this. Should John decide to, he could work from this workbench for the next 60 years every day and it will outlast hime even if he does retire from in his 87th year. No furniture maker no matter the standards or weight of his making would need anything more. It has no excesses and no shortages. Most people might go on to make a hardwood version but it would do no more and no less than this one. It would cost many times more and weigh more too, but these are of little value. I am happy to have worked from my work benches in the same style, weight and wood type for over 55 years. It’s good.

John bought the same vise as the one’s I have had on my workbenches throughout my life as a woodworker. It’s the Record quick release (QR), 52 1/2. His came with a brief history from the son of the owner who said his father had bought it new for his retirement years. It’s little used and in good condition, having such little wear and neglect. As I watch John fitting the workbench with the vise I was reminded of three years ago when Hannah built her workbench that she took home to do her woodworking there.

Hannah’s left-handed personal workbench customised to her when she made it back in September 2017.

Currently, she has been in making her rocking chair. She’s close and I watch her working steadily when I pass by in my comings and goings. Being in such wonderful company, (appropriately and safely distanced) fills me with the happiest thoughts. My apprentices! There is something quite possessive about the term, perhaps in a negative sense like my this or my that, but that’s is nothing like what I mean. It’s not so much the possessive element often stated or alluded to as in some kind of ownership of people but actually the possessive rite of apprenticing. These two have apprenticed thoroughly.

Ask either of them about the tools and the workings of them, the way to restore and use them, maintain and find them, adapt them and so on and they will give a most knowledgeable account. In most cases, they would stand against the most knowledgeable maker and surpass any machinist who usually has minimal need, knowledge, or even time for hand tools these days. In my world, these, you, are the answer to the conservation of my culture in making in woodworking.

52 Comments

  1. JohnM on 11 February 2021 at 12:41 am

    High quality work and an inspiration to all. Thank you.

    • Mike Vilhauer on 15 February 2021 at 8:37 pm

      All I want to know is when’s the bench-warming?

  2. Vidar Fagerjord Harboe on 11 February 2021 at 8:21 am

    Yesterday I flattened a small top for a cabinet / work table / sharpening station thing. Two pine boards glued into a top 38 by 150 cm. I rushed the prep before glueup, and ended up with a cupped top. I used a spring joint, but did not check for square. A brief lapse on my part.
    It took me 30 minutes to flatten the top with a 5 1/2 set up for a moderately heavy cut, a 7 to get the top flat lengthwise, a 4 for some localized smoothing and a no. 80 cabinet scraper for the final finish (I just recently got one with some elm slabs I have on sticks in mind, and needed the practice).
    I wish I could add the image of that top here! The surface is so smooth and shiny it reflects light as if it had a coat of semi-gloss varnish on it.
    I did it on the work bench I built on the floor of my shop, with tools and techniques I’ve learned – in no small part from Paul.

    As I stood there and ran my hand over the surface over and over again, feeling the smooth wood texture against my fingertips with a satisfied smile on my lips, I thought to myself: “God, I’m simple!” 😀
    Simple is good. As J.R.R. Tolkien wrote it: “It is no bad thing celebrating a simple life.”

  3. Andrew on 11 February 2021 at 2:31 pm

    It’s interesting to read of apprenticeships under a master, as opposed to formally prescribed courses leading up to a qualification. The former confers greater confidence.

    • Paul Sellers on 11 February 2021 at 3:49 pm

      Yes, yes, yes! Hiw and why did we ever manage to lose the connection between apprentice and master. Duh, duh, duh! The disconnect. How can a graduate from college or university become a teacher of a practical manual subject like woodworking without any true working knowledge of at least 20 years? And it is so restrictive to apprentice someone outside of the system without entertaining college release for a number of years. In one week my guys learn more than they do in a whole year of college. Trouble is these days is that companies need the piece of paper certificate before they will entertain taking anyone on, and dare you call them an apprentice without legislation tying you in knots?!!! It has done nothing more than destroy artisanry. Master and apprentice no longer exists.

      • Andrew on 12 February 2021 at 2:10 pm

        The master must also benefit by having to express his skills in words and actions. Most probably he will also absorb psychological skills and management skills by dealing with diverse apprentices.

      • John Besharian on 20 February 2021 at 2:12 am

        Mr. Sellers, regarding “Apprenticeship” vs. a “Formal Education” it is the often overlooked [and oft looked down upon] element of just plain “Snobbery”. In what passes for “Polite Society”, one simply doesn’t “Learn” by doing from a master of his craft, one must learn by being yammered at by their “Betters” who write books about things they actually know very little. Two quick quotes come to mind: “Some ideas are so absurd that only an intellectual would believe them.” -George Orwell
        And, “The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”
         -Ronald Reagan

      • nemo on 20 February 2021 at 6:10 pm

        “Master and apprentice no longer exists.”

        At the top end of the formal-education spectrum, ‘apprenticeships’ still exist, in a sense: the Ph.D. student under his promotor.

        I suppose that it still works there due to the low numbers of Ph.D. students compared to professors. At lower levels, where the ratio of students:teachers rapidly increases, it’s too expensive a system. Guess it’s more a matter of quantity vs. quality in the lower strata.

        As to craftsmanship, yesterday I was making long stainless steel ‘hooks’ (name?) to keep doors open. Had a bit of 4mm stainless steel wire so decided to make two, they being rather expensive and hard to find locally. The first one came out magnificent, the second one also magnificent but slightly different. Same with 3rd and 4th one (I was enjoying myself, I actually only needed two….). Instead of being annoyed at each one being slightly different (as I normally would be), I suddenly remembered your philosophy: no two are the same, each one is uniquely handcrafted!

        Every hook being different isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. A feature that few people can afford these days. It’s not that I can’t compete with the hardware store, it’s that the hardware store can’t compete with me! Handmade stainless steel hooks, each one different and unique….

        (Lovingly made by a skilled craftsman from only the finest stainless steel, hand-bent, delicately hammered in a time-proven functional yet visually pleasing shape that will give a lifetime of service….)

        Some humour aside, it actually goes deeper, and is something I’ve obviously also fallen victim to: the idea that mass-manufactured products, with their consistency, are automatically ‘better’ than handmade things, with their inevitable spread in characteristics. I suppose it’s all a matter of mindset. The minor differences are not a distraction, they’re the attraction.

      • Margaret on 21 February 2021 at 7:02 pm

        _ Trouble is these days is that companies need the piece of paper certificate before they will entertain taking anyone on, and dare you call them an apprentice without legislation tying you in knots?!!!_

        Out of curiosity, Paul, could you not write a straightforward letter attesting to a student’s abilities? I.e., a de-facto equivalent to a certificate of completed apprenticeship? Your own status as a highest-level Master (equivalent to 5th or 10th _dan_ in certain Japanese artistic crafts) is unchallengeable, so I’d think a simple letter from you would be all anyone would need to get taken on by any employer with good sense.

  4. Ermir on 11 February 2021 at 2:32 pm

    My workbench is a place of peace and inspiration for me. I really loved making my workbench! Memories of its making come to my mind everytime I am working on it. I made it out of pine; it does not vibrate, it does not kick back when I hit something on it. Every now and the I discover new ways to work on and around it and I think how versatile Paul’s workbench is! Thank you!

  5. Kent HANSEN on 11 February 2021 at 2:52 pm

    Who wouldn’t love apprenticing under Paul’s tutelage? Lucky kids!

  6. Paul on 11 February 2021 at 2:56 pm

    My workbench is almost nearing 2 years. I had to compress mine a bit (4ft x 1.5ft) due to space limitations but it’s still solid enough for my projects. I only had a jobmate folding table and a 3″ clamp on vise. It was a challenge, and my tenons aren’t nearly as clean as John’s. But it was fun! And in the end, it was mine and I made it. Can’t ask for much more satisfaction than that.

  7. Paul Boegel on 11 February 2021 at 3:25 pm

    Is there a set of plans available for this bench Paul? I have a pile of Western Maple I plan to use for a bench. I am a bit surprised that there is no stretcher between the leg sets. Every bench I have seen has at least one but usually 2.

    • Paul Sellers on 11 February 2021 at 3:38 pm

      You can go to my blog and to YouTube for making details and plans. Here’s the intro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiCnhVgVD5E The design relies on the aprons but you can add stretchers but the are totally unnecessary because of the joinery.

    • Sylvain on 11 February 2021 at 5:29 pm

      In the Paul Sellers workbench, the anti wobbling function is taken care of by the leg-frames being pressed by wedges in the housings in the two wide aprons. The deeper the apron descend, the better the resistance to wobbling.
      But of course there is a point were one doesn’t get added benefit.

      Look for the blog post “HOW TO BUILD A WORKBENCH – APRON RECESSES (PART11)” dated 19 June 2012. The drawings should explain it.

      • KeithW on 12 February 2021 at 1:58 pm

        One of the modifications that I made to Paul’s design was to omit the wedges. Made the apron slightly deeper. It is based upon the original double sided design.
        It is rock solid., with no rocking. I also made the legs on the main side I use deeper, laminating 3 rather than 2 “4by2’s”. This was to allow it to take a large pounding, effectively moving the weak part of the mortise joint back. I don’t think that I really needed to do this however. The main vice is a secondhand Lion vice, similar to (copied from) a record. But I tend to use the wooden end vice equally as much. I rescued the metal screw and large rectangular nut from an old wooden vice over 3 decades ago, refitting it to 2 pieces of very old rescued oak. I still remember how hard it was to work the oak. I think that the fact that I rebuilt it give me great pleasure when I use it. I also like the fact that there is a bit of give in it. Don’t even miss that it is not quick release.
        The bench has acquired the patina of use now. But my best memories are what I learned from making it. Already had one that I made sometime before, so I didn’t cut the mortises on the floor.
        I already had most of the CLS maturing for a suitable project.
        Making it was part of my apprenticeship, but feel a bit old to call myself that.

        i guess that the above is a longwinded way of saying thankyou to Paul.

  8. Joe on 11 February 2021 at 5:54 pm

    Hi Paul,
    I want my 9 yr old daughter to be able to work in the garage as well. She does like to woodwork when I’m out there. When we share the one bench I have, it can sometimes be a bit difficult. I think I will build this one for her to use. To make it extra special, I will have her help. She loves sawing, using her No 3 hand plane, chiseling, etc. There is plenty she can do to make this.
    Sincerely,
    Joe

    • J Meyer on 15 February 2021 at 6:06 pm

      Suggestion: you can have your 9 year old help you build a solid stool that she can stand to work on beside you.

  9. nemo on 11 February 2021 at 9:22 pm

    Your apprentices could be simply described as ‘competent’.

  10. Mike O'Connor on 11 February 2021 at 10:41 pm

    I see the ring pattern on the apron of the bench made alternating, so as to minimize cupping.

    • Paul Sellers on 12 February 2021 at 1:59 pm

      No. Just putting the best faces out.Sorry!

      • Paul on 12 February 2021 at 3:18 pm

        For what it’s worth – I was pretty new to woodworking when I made my bench. I bought a 12″x1.5″ pine slabs for my aprons. So each apron is just one big piece of pine. The bench is placed outdoors in the garage during the summer (35 degrees C and dry on hot days) and indoors in the basement during the winter (anywhere from 15-20 degrees C and ranges from dry to humid). It has been 2 years or so and the aprons have not cupped whatsoever.

  11. Samuel on 12 February 2021 at 12:19 am

    Have to admire the grain on tenon ends

  12. Steve P on 12 February 2021 at 8:02 pm

    This is a rite of passage. I have to say something though Paul. While the newer bench videos are top notch in every way, I still in a way prefer the old videos. Those were the ones I watched those years ago and thought “hey I can do this, if this guy can do it outside against a tree without a fancy shop and camera crew”

    • Richard Thompson on 12 February 2021 at 10:33 pm

      Hi Paul.I recently made a Morovian style work bench for convenience sake.It comprises of mostly recycled pallet crates and scraps from building sites. This style of bench which I hand built is suprisingly solid and can be disassembled in a minute or two. I don’t current have a workshop and this bench doesn’t need to be in the way 24/7.Folk in my situation could find it useful and get to making things sooner. I deviated from tradition by putting in a Record style vise and a removable bottom tray to store bench hooks and sash clamps etc.I was also able to build a bench jack which is removable too.It can do everything other benches can .Mine is 2.400x.600 and a 2.400 x.200 x75 tool tray.
      Keep on chipping on

    • Vidar Fagerjord Harboe on 15 February 2021 at 8:44 am

      Yes!!!!!!! This is true for me too! No videos has EVER shown me that you can do amazing things with a crude setup, if you have a little bit of know-how. What I needed to learn about making the bench, I got from those videos. Or, I do think I knew everything I needed to know when I built the bench, because it is rock solid and works perfectly.
      I’ve added two Veritas planing stops and a couple of holdfasts – all removable and just 8 dog holes in the 80×200 cm top. With the Eclipse vise in the mix, I have all the work holding capabilities I need without having to bring out the gatling gun to the bench…
      Watching those early bench movies changed everything for me – I realized I do not need a lot of machinery. This weekend, I used a hand plane to make a quick 45 degree bevel on a 1.5” table top edge. I did not even think to use the power router (which I do have) until now, when I’m writing this. The hand plane took way faster and I did not have to wear PPE. Not to mention the feeling when I sight down that bevel and see that the joint line between the oak and the pine (I added a strip of oak to reinforce the edge since it is for the shop) is dead straight! Only hand tools were used.

      Bring back the trees, Paul! 🙂

      • Paul Sellers on 15 February 2021 at 10:53 am

        I understand the sentiment. I tried then and still now to show people that they do not need the ideal setup to start out, hence no massive behemoth workbenches made from 150mm thick beech with 150mm by 150mm legs and hounds-tooth wooden vises with wooden threaded mechanisms. I can make everything and anything from this simple workbench and have proved
        so over the decades of using this very one. What people needed was exactly what we gave and give. A no-frills way of woodworking. We have defied the status quo and relieved the boredom for so many by simply making with our hands what many if not most believed could not be done. We have shown week on week over the past decade dozens upon dozens of pieces that can be made by hand without any compromise in quality and it all began with the garden-made workbench using two sawhorses and a Black and Decker workmate all the way through to fine furniture pieces. We showed that there really was no need for so-called power equipment that hogged all of the worksj=hop floor space in dedicated footprints and so on. Also, the goal was to get people doing it right there and then rather than waiting for the illusionary “retirement” era when many other things happen to people entering their older age. Who forewarned us about the COVID, the mass unemployment, the mass sicknesses and so on. With the unpredictability we have seen in some of the very worst of politics and then the vitriolic reactions in Europe and other parts of the world we should just get to grips with the reality that we can ourselves at least take our own personal lives into our hands and do things and do things now, don’t you think?
        This is one of the best times ever to be a hand tool woodworking enthusiast!

        • Darren Garside on 15 February 2021 at 3:42 pm

          The two people who have most influenced me are yourself and Chris Schwarz (the erstwhile anarchist). In the last of the Anarchist books, where he provides his version of the definitive workbench, he does specify a behemoth in southern yellow pine. On the face of it there are many similarities between the two of you such as eschewal of unnecessary power tool use and the aesthetic qualities of working with wood. I wonder what your considered opinion is of Chris’s workbench design and what points of difference between the two of you do you see as most salient?

          • Paul Sellers on 15 February 2021 at 4:00 pm

            I can’t actually recall having ever seen anything that he ever made as far as I can recall, Darren. I do think that many makers take pride in their particular styles or types of workbenches and use them to express who they are, what they like and like to use, etc. Ask ten woodworkers about their favourite workbench and they’ll give you ten different versions.



        • Paulo on 18 February 2021 at 3:22 am

          “No-frills, artisan, handwork”

          Forget about anything else, heck I’d even heretically say forget about wood for a sec. whatever the media is, to me this is pure poetry!

          This is the essence of being a maker, being a human.

          Thank you for your wordwork mr. Seller 🙂

  13. Sylvain on 13 February 2021 at 10:10 am

    “John has proven my bench making how-to […] his background as an apprentice and maker helps with suggestions for clarity and ideas on what not to miss.”

    I have built my workbench from the blog post and video of 2012 a few month the new videos were released. (I adapted the dimensions to the space and material available.) I like it. So I personally don’t need any further instructions about it.
    As you plan to release a new booklet, may I nevertheless suggest to review the comments on those blogs, videos (old and new) and forum to see what questions/problems people may have with this built.
    The written informations in the 2012 blog post themselves were invaluable for me. There was no accompanying text with the 2018 videos.

  14. Will on 15 February 2021 at 1:21 pm

    I just made my first small table with only hand tools except for a drill. I’m totally converted! I was giddy when I took a picture of a rough edge and 29 seconds took another of a finished edge. No dust and seemingly instantaneously! Wish I had a decent plane but at least it was somewhat sharp.

    • Paul Sellers on 15 February 2021 at 1:49 pm

      Well done YOU! That’s how we get started. This is great feedback. Woodworking with hand tools is the most exciting way forward in my world of real woodworking and how better to start than searching on eBay for a good secondhand #4 that you can restore straight off instead of paying £200 more so that you can get one that works straight out of the box yet does no more. There is more to learn about planes by restoring one than you will ever get from buying a new one even though buying new is okay too, I suppose. I’d get my toes in and go for a secondhand but do check out the photos and descriptions. I have never had single failure buying tools via eBay because you can always return. I would never buy from someone so mean spirited that they wouldn’t take it back if they sold something faulty.

      • Will on 15 February 2021 at 2:47 pm

        I’ve been watching ebay for a while for a #4 and a #71. I was shocked to see several #71’s go beyond $200 in the past few days. Bugger, as some would say.

        • Paul Sellers on 15 February 2021 at 3:32 pm

          Where do you live?

          • Will on 15 February 2021 at 6:48 pm

            Mesquite country. San Antonio.



        • Evan on 15 February 2021 at 5:01 pm

          Will-
          That spike in price has been a nicknamed the “Paul Sellers affect”. Every time he brings a tool up from obscurity and showoff it’s versatility, ebay prices jump way up. You can still find good deals on them, just have to wait and watch.

          • Paulo on 18 February 2021 at 3:14 am

            Funny, but true Evan. 😄
            The “Paul Seller’s conundrum” that good ole tools which were being criminally neglected as “outdated”, melting away in dark corners …and now a real chap with impeccable credentials proves these tools are as effective as the day they were invented …and the marketeers and “antique tools investors” take the opportunity and price gouge.

            Thanks for trying to mitigate it via your “poor man’s series” of custom tools, Paul but you’ve both resurrected and ‘ruined’ cheap woodworking (I’m kidding on that one part 😋 THANK YOU)



        • gregor ritchie on 15 February 2021 at 9:21 pm

          Will, Go to FaceBook- MarketPlace. The prices are much cheaper than Ebay. Of course, be patient, and do you homework on various Stanley #4. Also if money is restricted you can get a jack plane as your first hand plane. Good luck.

        • Ermir on 18 February 2021 at 7:58 am

          Will, I live in Albania, I can’t find a #71 here and shipping costs + prices prohibit me from buying one online. I’ve made this:
          https://paulsellers.com/2012/03/not-so-poor-mans-router-really-works/
          It is amazingly efficient and it is a joy to work with it! And, if Paul makes a video on how to make and use it, #71 prices will go down again. 😊

      • Andy Hastings on 15 February 2021 at 9:41 pm

        Ebay and second hand stores have been my sole source for the vast majority of my hand tools. That plus several that my great grandfather used in the trade in Reno Nevada in the mid/late 1800s. Half the fun of finding them is the refurbishing.
        Please make sure your newest apprentices know how to pre tension the spring in the 521/2 vices.

  15. Robin on 15 February 2021 at 5:39 pm

    Seeing Hannah’s bench made me smile! I too am a leftie (some say all the best people are) and made my left-handed bench from Paul’s plans after I ‘discovered’ him on Youtube while recuperating from major surgery in 2018.

    I owe Paul a debt of gratitude – he rekindled a love of hand-tool woodworking that had been lying dormant since the 1970s when I taught myself the basics from a book. And all that planing was a great help in getting my fitness level back up again!

    I’m pleased to say my bench has recently survived being dismantled and re-assembled after a house move from Somerset to Oxfordshire, a real testament to the design.

    • Vidar Fagerjord Harboe on 16 February 2021 at 6:23 am

      … but have you made the left handed bench hook yet?

      😉 May your irons ever be sharp, my leftie friend!

    • Rowan on 19 February 2021 at 8:31 pm

      I was also interested by the pic of Hannah’s leftie workbench. I’m a cack-hander myself, and I deliberately made my first bench with the vise near the left, so that I can overhang material beyond the left end of the bench and cut it with a saw in my left hand. It’s probably not going to be too long before I build a better, Sellers-style bench, so I’d like to know: what are the benefits of right-side vise for lefties (or left side for ‘normies’)?

      Thanks,
      Rowan, New Zealand.

      • Paul Sellers on 19 February 2021 at 9:40 pm

        Hannah uses one of my benches here at the shop and that is made for right-handed workers. She manages fine at this because the position of the vise does not hinder the work any more than the vise being over on the right when facing the workbench. The issues are more a matter of convenience. Right-handed people pick up and put down tools with their right hand. Please don’t write in and say I don’t. It’s a fact that we all use both hands at different times but we right-handed woodworkers do pick up our tools with our right because we place the vise according to our dominant hand. The reason? We use a tool with our right hand and place it down with our right to our right. So the right side of the bench is really designated for tool placement and support materials. It’s the practical approach to the economy of motion.
        Hannah’s home bench is a left-handed one so her vise is over on the right, about 9″ from the end of the bench.

  16. Robert Bellairs on 15 February 2021 at 7:08 pm

    Hello Paul,
    Because my bench must be in a corner, I want to make it longer than what your plans call for. My question is whether there is a need to add a middle set of legs if a bench exceeds a certain length?

    • Vidar Fagerjord Harboe on 17 February 2021 at 9:21 am

      I made mine 80×200 cm. The legs are placed according to the plans. Consider where you will do most of your chopping and place a leg close to that area. You want the top to be well supported around your main working area. Put a few forks and knives on a table. Hit the table top with your fist middle way between the legs. Everything jumps around and makes noise. Then hit directly above a leg. The difference should be remarkable (depending on the table design of course). When you hit above the leg, all the energy goes into the floor. When chiseling, this translates to more power and control. The energy is used for cutting wood fibres, not making the table flex.

      With such substantial aprons, I think you can elongate your bench quite a bit without any problems. I have seen another “English workbench” being built that was 12 feet long. Different design without a laminated top, and I bet Paul’s design is at least as strong – if not stronger – than the other design.

      Paul needs to give the final answer here, but I think you can make your bench quite a bit longer without any problems.

      Mine certainly are very strong, and I don’t have such big aprons on it (yet). I think they are 8” / 20cm or so. I haven’t even put in the lag bolts yet (oh, how that to-do list undergoes revisions…). My top is nearly 4” thick and laminated with regular Casco indoor PVAC glue. I’d park a car on it without any hesitation!

      If you need to do work on another part of the bench, and your “forks and knives” jumps on you, just wedge a piece of scrap between the bench and the floor and secure with a screw or two into the underside of the top. Think transfer of energy. If the energy goes straight into the ground, the entire globe is your anvil. It ain’t giving in any time soon!

  17. Sandy on 15 February 2021 at 11:48 pm

    I have built several benches over the years but I built Paul’s design about 3 years ago. Mines not as pretty as John’s but I use it exclusively now. Maybe I’ll clean it up and put a finish on it one of these days… Wait.. the next project looks like a good one..Maybe after that…LOL

  18. Jennifer on 16 February 2021 at 2:02 am

    My bench, which I started back at the end of September when I bought a pile of construction lumber and the first hand plane I’ve ever used, is now done except for the wedge retainers and final sanding/finishing. I didn’t watch the videos very far ahead and didn’t realize I would need wood to line the vise until I got to installing it. Fortunately, I had a piece of hardwood long enough but too narrow. After mounting the vise, as I used it to cut and joint the long strip into wider boards, I realized that it was almost easy. There was none of the worry I felt at the start – I needed wide boards, so I just made them. I would not have known how to do that if not for the hours spent learning to sharpen and use the plane and other tools while building the bench. (And wow, do I ever appreciate working with the bench and vise after all that awkward arrangement of clamps and my borrowed plastic sawhorses!) Thank you so much for the lessons, and it’s great to see your apprentices’ work.

  19. Craig Potter on 16 February 2021 at 10:32 am

    Hi Paul, I’d love to see you design and build a workbench that would fold flat against a wall but be quick to reassemble into something that is as sturdy as those you’ve already gifted us. My choice is either to leave an expensive car to be tortured out in the Australian weather and have a work bench in the garage, or to save the car and not have a proper workbench. I’m sure there are many like me. I imagine something like a sturdy rail bolted to the wall that one edge of the bench rests on and a leg and apron assembly that fits to the other edge, all locked together by some ingenious quick to assemble system. In the evening the car can go out for an hour or two and and the bench is quickly up and down for some time with the tools. In my case the whole thing couldnt protrude any more than 12″ from the wall when packed up, to allow exit from the car. I want something ‘proper’, sturdy and enjoyable to use. Is there hope?

    • Vidar Fagerjord Harboe on 17 February 2021 at 9:44 am

      My idea: make a laminated top with one apron (I think no more than 6 to 8”) It is fastened with hinges to the wall. The hinges needs to be able to move up and down a bit on the wall – effectively allowing the top to be lifted up 5-10mm. There should be a tiny gap between the top and the wall when the top is perpendiculart to the wall, so that you can lift it slightly past 90 degrees from vertical. The legs should have at least a rail placed at the center of the cross members (seen from above, the base assembly would look like a H) so that you can set them up on the floor and they’ll stand on their own. You can make this a knock-down thing if you do not have space to store them assembled. The rail utilizes a through mortise and tenon, with a wedge through the tenon where it exits the cross member – a tusk tenon.

      On top of the legs, make holes to match 1/2 – 1 ” dowels glued into the top. This will secure the legs to the top sideways. I’d use one dowel at the center and one close to the apron. You can mount trailer latches to easily secure the legs to the top.

      Lift the top and slide the legs under it (this is why you cannot have a high apron) and set it down onto the legs. It will be lifted ever so slightly so that the entire weight rests on the legs, not the hinges. Fasten the trailer latches, and you are good to go.

      I would look into gas dampers for the top so that it won’t come crashing down on you if you let it go. Makes it easier to swing it up, too.

      Come to think of it – make the whole thing swing DOWN. I did not think of that before just now, and I do not want to edit the whole post. This would enable you to make the legs swing down from the top on hinges. A rail with tusk tenons to hold them in place, and maybe a diagonal “planing brace” between the top and the leg nearest to the vise, secured with a wing nut.
      I’d still make the top move on the hinges so that the weight goes to the legs.

      Hope this makes any sense. I saw the solution in my head in an instant, but I don’t know if it is a good one – or even one that actually works. 🙂

  20. Richard Thompson on 21 February 2021 at 12:02 am

    There are other bench designs out there that fold. Caution needs to be exercised as some are plan pieces of junk.Pauls style of bench are more than enough to perform 99% of all jobs .I chose a Morovian style of bench for space saving how ever a solid non take down or folding bench is the the best choice in my opinion .My Morovian bench was all recycled and required no power tools.I made it on the ground in my drive way.It currently lives in my car port and when nor needed it is taken down and put aside.To be honest two saw horses and a plank will work but a bench will make life a lot easier.
    Richie
    Keep on chipping on

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