Mike Dunbar’s Workbench
Heavy-duty bench has a wide top, knockdown base and large vises
Synopsis: This workbench was styled after one built 200 years ago; it’s heavy, solid, and doesn’t wobble, though the joints are easy to adjust for seasonal movement. It’s equipped with two wooden vises with ample space between their jaws. It does not have a tool tray, so the top is available for assembly as well as woodworking. Building it borders on timber framing, so it’s useful to have help nearby for some stages. You’ll get dimensioned drawings and clear explanations to help you build the knockdown base, the plank top, and the front and tail vises.
This is my workbench. Two friends and I each made one like it in the mid-1970s, copying a 200-year-old original we found in the basement of an 18th-century mansion. I prefer it to any other design, for several reasons. The bench is a heavy, solid structure. No matter how hard the work, there is no need to hold down this one with sandbags. And its joints don’t wobble when I’m handplaning or sawing. If they do loosen because of seasonal movement, a tweak with a bed-bolt wrench makes them rigid again.
The bench’s wood vises are very strong. The twin-screw front vise has ample space between the screws, which means I can drop a long, wide part between them. And the jaws are wide enough to hold a 6-ft-long board for edge-jointing without additional support.
The bench does not have a tool tray, leaving its entire wide top available not just for woodworking but also for assembly. When I worked by myself as a professional furniture maker, this bench was all I needed. Finally, I am a woodworker, and a bench made entirely of wood has a deep appeal for me.
Making this bench is more…