A heavy non-racking bench with plenty of tool storage and vises makes this my ultimate workbench.
SHOP OWNER: Greg Brunk
LOCATION: Cuyahoga Falls, OH
I call my latest project my Ultimate Workbench. This project has taken approximately two years from start to finish, including design time and assembly. I wanted a bench that would handle all my needs as a furniture maker. I searched the Internet for everything I could find on benches and combined all the features I required. My previous workbench was a corner bench in my garage.
For years I have wanted a dedicated freestanding workbench situated where I had access to all sides. Once I relocated my woodshop to the basement, the opportunity for this type of bench emerged. I had several requirements for this new bench. First, I wanted non-racking 24-inch-on-center chain-drive twin-screw face and tail vises, and a pattern maker's vise to be used for holding irregular shaped items and carving purposes.
Another requirement was the ability to utilize holdfasts and edge clamps with the bench top. I also wanted the ability to utilize the end vise in a glue-up clamping scenario; hence, the reason for all the ¾" dog holes in the top, which measures 34" wide by 96" long and 34 ¾" tall. The top consists of 2” hard maple, with 2” by 7" wide walnut aprons. The finish on the bench is a 50/50 mix of mineral spirits and boiled linseed oil.
I also wanted to have tool storage capability within the bench. So I designed a cabinet with drawers on 18" full-extension slides that could be removed, if needed, and holds all my commonly used hand tools.
The drawers have 1/8-inch Foamcore Board cutouts to secure tools.
Blocking was added along the sides and ends to allow for the use of edge clamps and provide additional support and strength for the aprons and top. The base unit is made from walnut posts and cherry rails that were joined using mortise and tenons. The two trestles are spanned with cherry rails that have a ½" threaded bar mortised inside and runs the full length of the stretcher. A removable slatted shelf that the tool chest rests on spans the stretchers.
One requirement I had was to be able to break down the bench into manageable pieces for relocation if required. The total bench weight with tool chest is approx 450 lbs., which makes for a nice solid non-racking work surface.
I struggled for some time deciding whether I wanted a traditional tool till or more surface area for work and came up with a movable tool holder I call my Bench Buddy. It can be positioned along either side of the bench and secured in the dog holes. The Bench Buddy holds several tools with easy access to keep the bench top clear.
Since I used a fixture to drill all the dog holes, they are indexed exact and are repeatable from side to side and along the length.
Eventually I decided to add another Bench Buddy to use on the end, as well as a deadman for board support.
The chain vise covers are made from walnut. The nameplate is Birdseye maple with my name and year laser-engraved and inlet into the vise cover.
In the tail vise cover I inlaid a silver eagle coin to show the year it was built. So far I have been very happy with its performance and have become a big fan of holdfasts.
. . . Greg Brunk