The Essential Workbench
Workhorse bench combines the best of the old and the new
Synopsis: The author and Fine Woodworking editors collaborated to design an essential workbench for today’s woodworker, one that is straightforward to build and is more of a workhorse than showpiece. Its also a bench that most woodworkers can build using tools found in an average small shop: tablesaw, portable planer, crosscut saw, router, drill press, and hand tools. Details such as round and square benchdogs are debated and resolved, and though this design doesn’t have a tool tray, one could easily be added.
From Fine Woodworking #167
This latest attempt to design a woodworker’s bench is built on the foundation of the dozens that have graced the pages of this publication, starting with Tage Frid’s in the fall of 1976 (FWW #4). His includes a built-in tool tray, a shoulder vise on the left, and a tail vise on the right, with a single row of dog holes along the front apron—much different from the bench seen here. Frid’s bench is a classic northern-European design that traces its roots back centuries before the introduction of electricity. Frid’s bench and Frank Klausz’s very similar design a few years later (FWW #53) have influenced modern bench builders for decades.
Several Fine Woodworking editors and I recently collaborated on designing an essential workbench for today’s woodworker, one that is straightforward to build without compromising performance. This bench was designed to be a tool—more workhorse than showpiece. We did not include traditional components simply for history’s sake, and we took advantage of modern innovations. We also wanted this bench to be a project that most woodworkers could build using tools found in an average small shop: tablesaw, portable planer, crosscut saw, router, drill press, and hand tools. The only heavy-duty tool I used was a 3-hp tablesaw. Ripping lots of…
Get the Full-Size Plan
CAD-drawn plans and a cutlist for this project are available in the Fine Woodworking store.