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Good, Fast, And Cheap Workbench

author-gravatar racerv Sep 30, 2017

This bench is based off of "Bob and Dave's Good, Fast, and Cheap Bench" with some modifications and I'm very happy with how it turned out.   The bench is heavy and doesn't flex one bit when pushing on it. This is my first bench build and it was a first doing these large laminations and mortise and tenons, this was a great learning project and i really needed the upgrade over my OSB and sawhorse set up.  The bench can be taken apart and easily transported with a second person thanks to the hardware used to attach the legs and the top.  The bench ended up costing about $670 CAD.  Wood was $280, hardware was about $100, and the vises were $290.  I still plan on sanding it and putting some danish oil on eventually, but for the purposes of the contest I'm calling it done!

Just making it look like I'm actually using the bench.

OK so these photos were staged. 

The haul from the lumber yard.  Most of the bench is made from 2 x 10s that i ripped in half on the table saw.  This gave me a lot of thickness to make things straight after the laminations and the 2 x 10s were much better looking than the 2 x 4s.

I used my table saw fence as a stop for hand planing, the 1/2" plywood is there for a spacer to prevent the hand plane from contacting the fence.  I cleaned up all the faces with a hand plane prior to glue up.  I did try to joint and plane the boards first but that took off way too much material so I found that hand planing worked the best.  After the glue up is when i used my jointer and planer.

One of the side rails is gluing and i just finished cleaning up the faces of the other side rail to prep it for glue.

Used a lee valley jack plane for all the clean up.

Too many clamps? Nah.

Post glue up, the are ready for jointing and planing.

These are sections for the top.  I glued 4 boards at a time so that it was just under 6" wide (the capacity of my jointer).  I jointed and planed all these sections to minimize the amount of hand planing i would have to do after the complete top was glued together.

Obligatory shop dog.

The little 6" jointer that could.  It actually worked quite well, other than the work pieces being awkward to handle and the very poor dust collection.  I did hook up my dust collector but the dust collection is still terrible on this machine, not to mention my dust collector kept getting clogged.

The planer was also demanding of my dust collector.  The dust collection was much better than the jointer when it worked but this is what happens when the dust collector clogs up.

The 1.5 HP dust collector had a hard time keeping up with the jointer and planer, but the main problem was this plastic wye fitting.

Chips were mostly getting clogged in the 4" port.  Having the plastic bars in the 4" port is not the smartest idea since there is already some protection on the 6" fan inlet.

I just cut these plastic bars out cause they cause more trouble than they were worth.

Nice and streamlined (almost).

I jointed the best looking side first, then did the opposite side on the table saw.

This took two passes on the table saw and came out fairly nice.  If i had a bandsaw i would have probably used that though.  I didn't plane these after since i was planning of hand planing the top after the final glue up anyway.

Took two passes on the miter saw to cut to final length.  I left everything 1/16" over to allow for some hand planing to final length if needed.

Having a laser on the miter saw really helped line up the two cuts.

The final top glue up.  I used 3 dominos for each section to help keep the pieces aligned and it worked very well.

All the pieces are now glued, jointed, and planed.  Time to start the joinery.

I first tried cutting the open mortices with a hand saw, it worked but took forever and i still needed to clean up the edges.  It worked much better to use the drill press to hog out most of the material.

I tried doing the mortices by hand after the drill press, this proved to be quite difficult even with a freshly sharpened chisel.  The walls were quite rough and tended to splinter easily.  I decided to try using the router after this and it went much better.

Used the drill press to remove most of the waste, then used a router.  This worked well and would do this method again.

The steps i used to make these mortices:

1. Hog out most of the waste on the drill press.

2. Chisel to about 1/16" of the line to get it close (this photo)

3. Use the router with the template to get nice smooth walls

4. Clean up the corners with a chisel

Router template i made in 5 mins using the miter saw and screwed a fence to the one side.  This took 4 passes to make the mortise:

1st pass: Used the template and routed as deep as it would go

2nd pass: Removed the template and used the hole i just cut as the guide, this extended the cut an extra 1/2"

3rd pass: flip the piece over and line up the template, making sure to use the same reference face  for the template fence.  Cut.

4th pass: remove the template to cut an extra 1/2" deep.  Hopefully the two mortises are lined up!  

I couldn't use my  flush trim bit because it wasn't long enough.  The ideal scenario would have been to use the pattern bit on one side using the template, flip it over and use the flush trim.  This would have taken out the error associated with having the line up the template perfectly twice.

I cut all the tenons on the table saw, leaving them just slightly "fat", then used a hand plane and chisel to fit them to each mortise.

Pretty good fit considering these are the first mortise and tenon joints I have done.

Shop dog helping me find my drill.

I had this little jig for drilling straight holes so i figured i would use it, probably could have done without it though.

I used the veritas "special bench bolts", item number 05G07.02

Ready to assemble

Marked out locations of the legs and vises and pre-drilled the holes.

Ready to mount the vises.

Eclipse 9" vise.  Purchased these from lowes online because they had the best deal.  Pretty happy with them although i had to take them apart, clean all the grease, then i sprayed them with  motorcycle chain lube.  The chain lube i just had on hand and its supposed to not attract dirt and dust so i figured it was worth a try.  I have not used it enough to say weather or not this was a good idea, but it seems ok so far.

The top is bolted to the legs with two metal brackets.  This is a very strong connection and is well hidden and allows me to easily take the bench apart if i need to move it.  

Used my jack plane to flatten the top.  

The top flattened pretty easy because i was careful to joint the sections prior to glue up and made sure everything was lined up during the glue up with the dominos.

Drilling the dog holes was kind of a pain since my forstner bit was not long enough.  I tried using a HSS Lipped Brad-Point Drill from lee valley since they advertised the drill bit for exactly this task, what a terrible mistake.  Do not buy this drill bit (item  07J02.48) it doesn't want to cut into the wood, and when i pushed down harder it would suddenly grab and slip out of the chuck.  needless to say i returned this bit from lee valley and went to home depot and got one for $5 and it worked better. 

The small crater left after using the lee valley brad point drill bit.  What worked better is using the forstner bit as much as possible, then i used a Bosch selfcut bit to make the hole deeper.  When the bosch bit poked through the back side only the center would poke through, so then i went from the back side and lined the bit up using the same hole and finished it off.  This left a mostly clean hole on the underside.

Lined the jaws with hard maple and its "done".  I still plan to sand and apply some danish oil, but at least the work bench is usable now.

1 comment

Great looking bench! I have a few questions:

1. What jig do you have for your drill to help make straight holes? Does that base slide along a shaft or something?

2. Most benches people build have the edge of the bench top flush with the legs to make clamping easier. Was it a deliberate decision to recess the legs?

3. How do you like the low angle jack plane? I'm slowly building up hand tool collection and want to spend wisely. I've seen a few videos or people I respect say that a low angle jack could be a good starting plane because it can be used for so many different things. What are your thoughts?

Thanks for posting the build progress. I love me some bench porn.

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