Tiny workshop workbench

More or less the final setup, minus the leg clamp on the nearest leg.

The bench is just 2×4’s for the legs with two 2×6’s for the front and back. The top is a bamboo work surface scrap donated to me by my neighbour which was leftover from their kitchen renovation.

I have a very small workshop (2.4m x 1.8m). I recently redid the slate roof as the previous one collapsed. As you can see, it’s pretty cramped. After struggling with my workmate for a couple of years, I decided it was time to make a proper bench. I loosely followed Matthias Wandel’s workbench build.

I made one of the sets of legs too deep and rather than make my life easy, I thought I’d fix the mistake by practising my lap joints. I hadn’t got particularly sharp chisels at this point, so it was a bit painful.

Gluing up the lap joints on the wrong leg. I realised my mistake by the time I made the second leg, so it didn’t need any fixes. Each leg is dowelled and glued from the ends. The legs are pretty sturdy!

Cutting the dados with my circular saw. Glad I did this with the electric saw as there’s a nasty knot right on the edge of the dado.

Here I am testing the rail to see how much space my new workbench would take up.

Here’s the finished base. The rails are screwed onto each leg so that I can dismantle the bench if I need to.

The laminated bamboo piece of work surface I was given was an odd shape: 900mm deep and ~1.4m wide. I had another scrap which was ~600mm deep and 1.2m long, so I cut the big piece to the depth of the bench (650mm) and cut the long piece to fit the remaining hole. This means that the end piece runs perpendicular to the main part, but it’s not posed any problems so far.

Here’s the main part of the worktop cut and laid on the base. I still needed to cut the end section at this point.

The bamboo top had been in a damp shed for a few years, so it needed a bit of sanding to bring the surface back to life. Besides that, it was in surprisingly good condition! And you can’t beat the price.

The top is attached to the base with blocks of wood screwed to the rails and then a screw running through the block into the base of the top. The vice at the end needed some restoration, so I took that back to bare metal and repainted it red later on.

My dad gave me a leg vice screw which he’d used when he was younger. It is one of two, the other is my granddad’s and is still used, but this didn’t come with any instructions! I made simple vice from a piece of leftover rail. I bevelled the edge with my router (this being the first time I’d ever used one). The finish is OK except where I made the edges a little rough around the curve.

When cutting the hole for the bottom bar, the wood split from the hole to the bottom. I drilled a 15mm hole and ran a dowel through it to hold the piece together. So far, it seems to have held up OK.

Dry fit of the vice. I held the vice in with some clamps to properly line up the holes I needed to make in the leg.

I had to make a block to hold the back of the screw onto the back of the leg. I also bevelled the top of the vice but in doing so chipped the top (see next photo).

Here’s the top of the leg vice with the bevel and the chip. The bar in the screw is also too long for me to be able to rotate it without hitting the wall. I just stuck a little wedge in to hold it halfway up.

Here’s the restored bench vice attached at the opposite end from the leg vice.

Made a little toy with my first ever dovetails!

Published by pica