How To Build A Workbench – Video Series

by | Mar 21, 2014 | 27 comments

Watch & Learn - How To Build An English WorkbenchYou may have noticed that we’ve been a little quiet on our blog over the past month or so, and this is because we’ve been spending a lot of time at the barns (no internet). I’ve been building my own English workbench, and as mentioned earlier, we’ve been filming along as we go. We’re nearly set to start teaching you, how to build a workbench.

Our original plans for a quickly made, rough video of the main points was slung out of the window on day one. As soon as I started picking up the tools, I realised I had an awful lot that I wanted to cover and explain. Building custom benches over the years, has brought up a fair number of questions about how to build a workbench. This seemed like a good opportunity to answer that question in depth.

We’d already splashed out on some upgraded filming equipment at the beginning of the year, ready for other plans, so we decided to slow down the build of this workbench, and start out by filming it detail for detail.

how to build a workbench video

It’s been an amazing project to do and I’ve learned a lot. I can honestly say if it wasn’t for you and Helen making these amazing videos I would probably of ended up with some YouTube screwed together thing! – Steven

The Workbench:

Workbench design differs from your average furniture making.

This is a practical, functional item, and we need to ensure that it will stand up to the rigours of working with hand tools. It needs to be tough, but we don’t want to spend an eternity building it.

This build is based on the traditional English (or Nicholson) bench design. It’s a traditional design that is well suited to the boarded timber sizes that we have available today.

The construction is fully jointed, though as tradition, I opted for dovetailed half laps rather than mortice and tenons. This means the joints are fantastically strong, yet incredibly simple and quick to cut.

This is a proper workbench, that will last a lifetime, but doesn’t take more than a couple of weekends to build.

The Workbench Video:

With the workbench build finally nearing completion, we want to shed some light on the video itself.

We set out to create a high quality of filming, and document the build in a detailed step by step fashion.

There’s a lot of info to take in through the build, so the video will be divided up in to digestible chunks to keep each of the processes easy to follow. Learn how to build a workbench in our video series

How To Build A Workbench –

Tools Needed:

I set out to build this workbench entirely by hand, and in fact decided to strip things right back. To keep this workbench build accessible regardless of your set up, I’ve built pretty much the whole bench with a chisel, a mallet and a hard point saw (more on the hardpoint next week).

Improve Your Hand Tool Skills:

Along with learning how to build a workbench, the video series provides insight to working efficiently by hand. There’s detailed techniques, and tips for understanding and practicing some of the more basic and vital hand tool methods.

Building the bench should prove a good exercise in approaching a build with hand tools, and also help build up skills which can carry through to your more refined furniture making.A minimal tool kit for building a workbench

Workbench PDF Plans:

At 12′ long, my workbench is bloody massive.

But the video will include full PDF plans, and advice for scaling the design to your preferred size.

Now that my part’s almost complete, it’s over to Helen to chug away on the editing (which is certainly likely to be the longer of the tasks).

While Helen’s busy I’ll have plenty of time on my tod, so I’ll try and find the on switch on the cameras and do some filming at my new bench – I have a few small projects lined up already that I’ve been looking forward to making and filming.

This blog and our videos are going to become a big priority in the not too distant future. I do still feel a prat talking to a camera though!

Update: The English Workbench Series Is Now Available!
Build your own English workbench with our videos.
Get started with a discussion on choosing your ideal bench dimensions.
Then follow every stage, from demonstrations of how to cut the joinery, right through to flattening your workbench top.
We even building the traditional face vice entirely from scratch!

Learn How To Build A Workbench – Watch The Intro Now!

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About Richard Maguire

About Richard Maguire

As a professional hand tool woodworker, Richard found hand tools to be the far more efficient solution for a one man workshop. Richard runs 'The English Woodworker' as an online resource and video education for those looking for a fuss free approach to building fine furniture by hand. Learn More About Richard & The English Woodworker.


  1. Graham Haydon

    Nice to see your future plans. Will you be bold enough to use a hammer on the splitproofs? I know I do but I don’t yet have the bottle to actually photograph/film it yet.

  2. DJ Mueller

    Richard – I encourage you to also offer the bench build video on a DVD for distribution.

  3. Mitchell

    I have no problem paying for an in-depth version of your workbench build, even though I will probably never build another bench. I’ve watched your free postings multiple times and each time I’m amazed at the amount of useful information you include. If I can get that out of your freebies, imagine what I am expecting from the ones you charge a few quid for?

    How’s that for pressure?

  4. Chris Buckingham,France

    That is a great idea, a video on making a bench, worth more than just pictures.
    You could get in a few shots of Helen painting on the sealing oil!

  5. Ken

    Looks like I could be making another workbench in the future. Great job guys 😉

  6. david

    I hope you made it 38″ high. 😉

  7. John

    Just tell me where to send the money. If is anything like the free content you have already put out there — It will be a bargain! I second what Mitchell said.

  8. bob

    picture a beastly big man with a big beard sitting at a table with some tools within his grasp, hammers in his hands, pounding the bench and saying, WE WANT RICHARD, WE WANT RICHARD, VIDEO, VIDEO,,,,ARG ME MATE…VIDEO….LOL….looking forward to it all.

  9. Sean

    I’ve got so much out of your free videos, it seems more than reasonable that you charge for something more indepth. It’s great that you share your skills and knowledge.

    As an aside, have you ever thought of running on site workshops?

  10. Cas Sedgwick

    Richard – I’ve always learned and appreciated the free content on your website and I’m always willing to pay for educational content. I’m sure the price will be fair and the content up to your standards.

  11. McKay

    Immediate download would be much preferable than a dvd. Keep up the good work and I will be more than happy to throw money at your quality video.

  12. Laurence Pylinski

    Being self employed for the last 25 years I have found that nothing is free!
    There will always be those that will take anything that is free but are unwilling to pay for anything that requires hard work from another.
    You neither need or want those people.
    Do not feel the need to apologize for charging for your skill, experience or knowledge.
    By all means do charge for your hard work and labors as all of us who look forward to and enjoy your blog entries are your best customers, advertising and allies.
    I am looking forward to the video.

    • Dan Noall

      -I couldn’t have said it better.

  13. Micheal Kingsley

    Oh, what the hell, put up what you will and the rest be damned. I’m just interested in seeing the finished product. I can’t imagine doing a bench out of 2X6’s here in the states that is the softest wood you can get so I can’t wait to see what you end up with. I have some good ideas so far, but I still can’t wait!

    • Micheal Kingsley

      Or even 2X8 pine boards….. 🙂

  14. Micheal Kingsley

    Try That website instead, I just put a www in front of my website listing.

  15. Micheal Kingsley

    One more time?

  16. Micheal Kingsley

    There now it works, Just click on my name to see what I was trying to fix.

  17. Barry Lowis

    Ah! Ah! An English version of Roy Underhill and Chris Schwarz! sounds great to me. Good on yer mate!

  18. Brian

    Thank you for your work, and posts. I look forward to seeing the video later on.

  19. Michael O'Brien

    The bench DVD construction video is one I would certainly purchase.
    Mike O’Brien
    Valley Head, AL, USA

  20. Jim

    Richard, Greetings from wintery Vermont!

    I am delighted that you will be offering a more in-depth look at your English bench build, and I don’t mind paying for it. I too hope you distribute via DVD as well – making it more convenient to access and use.

  21. Lars H. Backer

    Dear Richard and Helen,

    I must express my appreciation of your fine website and not at least the workmanship and design expressed in your projects. I wish you the best of luck in what you are doing! I am delighted to hear that you will publish an in depth video on the building of your workbench. I am looking forward to building my own and include your end and front vices, if possible to buy them and get an affordable freight to Sweden.

    With best regards,


  22. Michael Forster

    Nearly three weeks with the Little John and the novelty still hasn’t worn off! I wonder how many makers pause in the doorway before locking up for the night to take a last lingering look at the benchtop! 🙂

  23. Michael O'Brien

    Richard and Helen,
    Looking forward to the Bench DVD, don’t mind purchasing it. The free videos are always
    Nice too. Thanks.
    Mike O’Brien
    Valley Head, AL, USA

  24. Bill on Vancouver Island

    I second Sean ,you as a natural teacher should think about running workshops using your benches. As to talking to the camera, my students were more appreciative of the “conversational” rather than “instructional” approach which you have down pat – relax! You’re great.

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