Building a Workbench

Mark Johnson

Corporate Member
I have finally gotten to the point of building a real work bench. Trying to plane on a MFT table just does not work! The plan is a Roubo style bench and I;m using Ash because it is the cheapest hardwood I can find and some old walnut that is not really suitable for good furniture due to cracks and holes. I decided just to buy vise screws and make the rest of the vises. For the leg vise, I'm using poppo's St. Peter's cross design with some slight mods, and a wagon vise of my own design. Here are some in process pictures
.IMG_0013.JPG Cutting the side of the benchIMG_0030.JPG Making dowels using a technique danmart77 taught me

IMG_0014.JPG Pattern routing the side designIMG_0022.JPG Legs laid out with mortises complete

IMG_0023.JPG Boring the hole for the pin to hold the X bracesIMG_0021.JPG The finished mortise for the X brace
IMG_0031.JPG Side being glued up IMG_0027.JPG Part time helper!

For those of you already commenting "Gee it's only a workbench", you are right. However, since I'm the only one who will see all the mistakes in this, I'm using the project to try a number of new techniques: inlays, stringing, flame finished areas, and so forth. If they flop, it's not a big deal. It is also incredible the amount of knowledge gathered from people on this forum to try new things. I've mentioned poppop's vises, danmart's dowels, but also Matt's inlays and stringing. I'm also using a Hammer saw that I would not have except for a demo at Phil's to see his.
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Man with many vises
Interested in you vise designs. Hopefully you’ll be sharing those with us.

Impressed with what you did so far,

Mark Johnson

Corporate Member
Here are a few more pictures as the project moves along.
IMG_0033.JPG Here is the pattern being applied to the chop before cutting.IMG_0038.JPG And post cutting and template routing with the inlay taped to the surface before cutting in into the chop.
IMG_0041.JPG The base assembled.
IMG_0042.JPG the chop with inlay complete in position waiting for the top to be placed before final trim.

I'll show the vise pictures later. The chop vise is pretty close to exactly what pop-pop has shown except for the dimensions to match the 17 inch screw I'm using.


Wow. Magnificent.

My recent read of Christopher Schwarz's "The Anarchist's Workbench" heightened my appreciation of the art and history of benchcraft. Highly recommended for anyone who hasn't already checked it out.


Senior User
It's going to be a masterpiece.

Just like using quality tools, working on a nice bench is a psychological boost toward better craftsmanship? I'd like to think so anyway.

Glad to see you're not doing those [unnecessary] through dovetails through tenons. I wish more Roubo people realized If the base doesn't rack, the top won't move!!

Mark Johnson

Corporate Member
The keystone arch is there because I was born in Morocco (lived there less than 9 months), and like that particular arch form. The star is there because a "design opportunity" presented itself when I bored the hole for the bench screw in the wrong place. I wanted to try some inlay anyway so voila! The base clearly will not move! The bench is capable of being disassembled as the top is mounted into a mortise but not glued and held down with lag bolts. The long stretchers on the base are also in pretty deep mortises, but also pulled together with long bolts that can be tightened if they ever got loose. I cannot imagine this thing moving. I will have to position it in the final location before putting the full top on. I think it will weigh more than my saw! Thanks for the comments.

Mike Davis

Corporate Member
Glad to see you're not doing those [unnecessary] through dovetails through tenons. I wish more Roubo people realized If the base doesn't rack, the top won't move!!
I used round tenons and only one side has elongated round mortises to allow for movement of the top against the immoveable base. The top weighs about 80 pounds so I didn't think it needed anything else. It breaks down for transport in about 15 minutes.

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