Hand Tools & Techniques: The Workbench
There is no such thing as a perfect workbench. All workbench designs are a compromise in the end. The challenge is to sit down, analyze your own personal needs based on the types of things you do in your shop, the types of tools you use and your own physiology. Then come up with a design that makes the least amount of compromises and meets your needs in the majority of situations. For my own needs, simpler is better, but I'll share the method to my madness in case it might help you assess your own needs in a workbench.
After a long weekend and one evening, I have a square, flat and stable workbench base. I'm really liking how easy this bench is to build with very limited tools. I'm also liking the lower height compared to my old bench. Just one more solid weekend of work and this bench should be done.
With the base done, I moved on to the top. I also tackle the lower shelf and the planing stop.
The last thing I need to address on my bench is to finish up the work holding features. I decided to add a crochet to the front left of the bench and a removable twin screw vise to the front right. These two appliances, along with the myriad holdfast holes and several planing stops ensure sufficient work holding capacity no matter what the task. I finished up the episode by demonstrating some of the features of the bench and pointing out some of the not so obvious characteristics that make this bench work really well for me.
It's been about a year since building the new workbench. In that time, I've gotten lots of questions about how I liked the bench, how the construction lumber is holding up, and if I would do anything different. After using the bench for a year, I have to say it is by far my favorite bench of the three I've built so far. Is it perfect? Well, no bench is perfect. But this one comes close for my work.