The Handmade Workbench

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a new workbench. I needed something that supported hand-tool use, with supportive vises to keep pieces firm.

The Benchtop

The benchtop is composed of premium 2×4’s of pine wood. I trimmed off the curved sides and cut them down to 1 1/2″ x 3″ x 48″. I then glued up half of the boards length-wise to form a giant, thick plank. I did the same for the other half of the boards and eventually glued the two massive pieces together.

Flattening the Benchtop

The benchtop was now one solid mass of wood, but it was far from flat. There were many imperfections in the 2×4’s shapes that created a very uneven surface. A good benchtop should be perfectly flat to serve as a reference surface. I started planing the benchtop with my largest plane, my No.5 Sargent. This process took many hours as I constantly checked my progress with a straightedge. Eventually most of the rough spots were smoothed out and I finished the surface with my No.4 smoothing plane and sander.

Adding the Vises & Trim

I wanted two vises on the workbench, one on the front-left side, and another larger one on the right side. I cut the wooden vise grips out of hickory wood to add some character. For the benchtop’s trim, I used red oak. To make things a little extra fancy, I added dowels to the sides of the trim.

Frame Mortises and Tenons

Now that the benchtop was nearly complete, I needed to work on the leg frames. I decided to make a solid frame with 2×4’s with mortise and tenon joinery to ensure a sturdy construction. It took quite some time to cut out the 16x mortises, but eventually the pieces all came together smoothly and formed a snug fit.

Workbench Assemble!

With the frame sanded and smoothed, I was ready to attach the benchtop. I went with some pocket-hole screws to attach the benchtop to the frame. This would make it easier to remove if I ever needed to do so in the future. Now I had a solid workbench.

Bench Dogs

To get more use out of the workbench, I drilled some bench dog holes lined up with the vise grips. With matching holes in the vise grips, it allows dowels (bench dogs) to be inserted into the holes in order to hold a piece of wood firm using the vise. The homemade bench dogs still need some work, and the vise handles need to be made.

Vise Handles

I smoothed some chunks of red oak and attached them to dowel rods to create some quick and useful handles for my vises. The workbench is ready for use!


I added some Danish Oil to all the surfaces to give it a nice sheen and finished look.

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