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Shop Benches (1995)


NOTE:  These benches were updated in early 2009.  The new and improved benches are shown here.

These benches were built long before I had any idea what a european woodworkers bench looked like. I barely knew how to square a board, let alone how to create a “real” joiners bench. Here are the benches I built way back in 1995 and have been using and abusing ever since:

They ain’t pretty. They’re just 2x4 construction lumber with half lap and butt joints. The lower shelves and tops are melamine. I got the melamine for $8/sheet because it got a bit or water damage at the lumber yard. It’s not perfectly super duper flat like a “real” bench or torsion box, but I’ve made many many projects with this simple and cheap construction.

The compound miter saw sits on a shelf between the long bench on the left and short bench on the right. I placed the shelf at the proper elevation so that the table of the saw is level with the bench tops. This allows me to support long boards for cutting with the saw. I haven’t found the need to install a long fence for the saw, and I don’t want them getting in the way of using the bench surface.

I installed a Wilton 7” quick release vise on the left end of the long bench. This is very handy for handwork such as planing, chiseling, sawing, etc.

The shelf underneath is great for storage. I have many of my hand power tools stored here in cases, as well as my Jet benchtop mortiser. I also keep a garbage can in the space under the saw shelf for scrap offcuts. Finally, I use 3 underbed storage totes to store misc wires, fasteners, etc under the bottom shelf stringers.

While this would never fit in with the next ‘Workbench Book’ or win any awards from Fine Woodworking, they have been very functional additions to my shop that were cheap and easy to build. Fancy schmancy benches are nice, but by no means necessary.


Copyright 2009 Chris Billman