For those of you who think a workbench should be rough and ready, you may well cringe at the bench I have to show you today.
In fact when this customer enquired with a request that the workbench should be built from cherry, even I thought it was pushing things a bit posh.
The workbench was to be a French bench (to be more specific a very chunky Roubo type French bench) made in solid cherry, with a smooth and lustrous finish.
It seemed a little like putting me in a ballerina’s costume; a hairy barbarian trying to perform Swan Lake and somehow having to nail it.
It doesn’t matter how many benches like these I build, I still had to work myself up to it, yet once I got stuck in I found it all very enjoyable. The cherry was such a pleasure to work and once it started coming together, I began getting that buzz of excitement to finally see the finished result.
Being a bit different, we decided to keep a record of this build, and turned it in to an article for Furniture and Cabinent Making Magazine. This Thursday 16th (May 2013) the magazine will be out on the shelves, so you can take a look at the processes and workbench in more detail.
Since the bench was somewhat unique, I don’t expect anyone to set out to copy it detail for detail, so I wanted to use the article to provide some more general pointers when it comes to building a solid workbench.
There’s some info in there about tackling a big thick top glue up, along with the approach I took to the joinery.
If you’re toying with building a workbench or just have a healthy interest in them then I certainly hope that you’ll find it a good read.
Note: At the present time we’re not building any workbenches for sale, however we have many resources on this website that will help guide you with your own workbench build.
Our English Workbench Video Series takes you step by step through a traditional bench build, starting out with a discussion on choosing the ideal dimensions, demonstrations of how to cut the joinery, right through to flattening your workbench top and building the face vice from scratch.
If you’d like us to guide you through your build with videos and PDF plans, then you can find full details for this Workbench Series here.
Great job Richard, It looks amazing 😉
This is not a bench , this is ultimate furniture , and not Swan Lake , but the beautiful Grain Song. Only a barbarian could do that. Thank you for showing me that .
It makes (at least) three happy people : the maker , the owner and…me.
What a Workbench! This is a beautiful piece that perfectly highlights how something of utility can be elegant and worth celebrating, and a great follow on from the “One Thousand Steps” post.
Gary Weston says
Enjoyed the article very much Richard. I’m relieved you chose not to be photographed in a tutu!
It’s not obvious from either the exploded diagram or the photographs how this implementation of the leg vice prevents racking – there appears to be neither your pinless shaft nor the traditional pinboard. How is it done?
Thanks Gary, that’s the beauty of the shaft system – it’s so discreet! This vice used the pinless shaft just as I use on my other leg vices but I lowered the shaft position right down close to the floor. There’s no noticeable benefit to lowering it but I thought it would suit this bench well.
I recently received this issue of F&C and directly opened the pages with your article. I’ve now read it three times without looking through the rest of the magazine. Really impressed by your work! Your client can be very happy for that excellent piece of furniture. It would be well suited in any living room.
I especially liked the wheel for the leg vice. It really completed the bench very well.
I have been planning to build myself a working bench for a while and really found this article inspiring. I had really hoped to be able to find somewhere to buy the parts for that really nice leg vice, with its big wheel. I’m really looking forward to see that coming up for sale in your web shop.
Hello, thanks for your kind feedback, it’s great to hear that the article may be of some inspiration to your own bench build.
Lovely bench! can i ask what make is the leg vice kit please?
Charlie Romaine says
That is one beautiful bench! I’m interested in the big wheel vice, where can I get one?
I would just like to say that this article and the gorgeous vice hardware you make are responsible for the behemoth I am currently building.
I do have one question: how on earth do you move these huge benchtops around to work on them or to turn them over to fit legs/vises etc? I made the mistake of calculating the weight of the bench I am building and it is going to come in at just over 300lb most of it is the top.
Bob McKellar says
How can a woodworker from across the pond get a hold of those gorgeous vices?
Hi there I really like your ideas. I would like to know about the vises on the work bench. What make is type are they