Forget What You Know About Workbenches
Simple system of beams and bases does everything a traditional bench can, and more
Synopsis: Josh Finn’s workbench is a model of versatility. It features two long, narrow torsion-box beams with Homasote tops and melamine bottoms. The beams rest on two wide bases that have a sawhorse-type design. You can build this inexpensive bench in less than a day. It can accommodate any task that can be done on a traditional bench, can be set up on different configurations for any job, and can be broken down and stored out of the way. The Homasote and melamine offer interchangeable work surfaces that are great for sanding, finishing, and mounting benchtop machines.
From Fine Woodworking #202
When I opened my first shop 12 years ago after years of apprenticing with other woodworkers, one of my first decisions was about my bench. I needed something that could accommodate the usual handwork for furniture making—planing, chiseling, and sawing—but I also wanted a bench that could serve as a work station for machine setups and for glue-ups. This versatile bench was the solution.
The design is a combination of a couple bench systems I had seen over the years. I worked in one cabinet shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., where the central assembly area was a set of fairly low benches with homasote 440 fiberboard tops. The soft homasote protected the casework from dings, and the nonslip surface was ideal for sanding. I found the other piece of the puzzle in a friend’s upstate New York shop: two torsion boxes held up by sawhorses, a space-saving idea that also offered flexibility and strength.
I took the important details from those shops, added a few ideas of my own, and incorporated them all into this bench system. It features two long, narrow torsionbox beams with homasote tops and melamine bottoms that rest across two wide, sawhorse-type bases.