Bob Berner's Bench

Knockdown construction and a twin-screw vise distinguish this workhorse.

SHOP OWNER: Bob Berner
LOCATION: Allentown, PA

    Here are two pictures of the bench that I built in October, 2000. I had been using a sturdy 2x4-and-plywood workbench; but I got tired of working without a vise and trying to clamp pieces to the top, which was difficult because of a lack of overhang. I used the plans, rescaled to fit in my shop, from the October, 1999 issue of American Woodworker.
    The top is made of quartersawn oak that I picked up for a song at an auction; the base is ash. I used ash for the base because I could get 4x4 squares to use for the legs, and it isn't very expensive (something tells me I might have a bit of Scottish heritage in me). I attached a Veritas twin-screw vise on one end.
Bob Berner's Bench

    I learned a lot while building this bench. The joints required a fairly high level of precision and it was challenging, for me anyway, to horse around those large pieces to test-fit assemblies without another pair of hands.
    One of the reasons I like this bench is that it's designed to be knocked down for transport. The top lifts off the base and the four vertical wedges hold the base together. I took the bench along to a hobby expo that we had where I work and found it very easy to take down and set up.
    I had a little difficulty getting the vise to work; and, truth be told, it still needs a little tuning. Milling the jaws requires very high precision and very flat and square stock. The chain length and distance between screws is critical! I exchanged a few e-mails with Lee Valley about my problems; and, while they were very good with customer service, I managed to figure out my problems before they did. I give them high marks for their efforts though.
     The top of the bench measures 24 x 60 x 2 1/2 inches and is finished with a few coats of Watco Natural. The top is the same height as my tablesaw so the bench doubles as my outffeed table. The only problem with the bench is that it can slide around on my concrete floor. I am going to try attaching some rubber to the bottoms of the legs, and if that doesn't work I'll screw it to the floor.

...Bob Berner




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