In 2006, as I began my first round at Popular Woodworking Magazine (PWM), I was told I had to build a workbench. Even with then editor Christopher Schwarz chest deep in workbench publications, it wasn’t a mandate as much as it was a necessity. In the PWM shop, there was no usable bench empty and awaiting a woodworker.
I did not need to look far for a workbench to copy as I was always interested in a Shaker-designed bench – loved the painted bases in strong, bold colors. I built my bench which was published in our December 2007 issue (#166). Need a copy, click here, or if you just need the article, click here.
As I return to PWM, I find myself in an identical position – I’m not bringing my Shaker bench back because I use it in my home shop. I have, in turn, decided to build another bench. With this bench I plan to have a simple frame, a weighty top and a stack of drawer squeezed into the center. It’s the drawers on which I want to focus.
After my Shaker workbench was published, I was asked to write a page on what I would change if I were to build that bench a second time. The only change I had at the time concerned the drawers, which were way too deep to be best used. I could divide those drawers from top to bottom, but I am not found of having to slide drawer tills as I dig for tools.
In my SketchUp model of my next bench, there are ten drawers that are not nearly as deep. Ten drawers have a lot of hand-cut dovetails, so I plan to dig into different drawer construction methods before choosing how to build my drawers. As of now, I plan to study spline construction, dowel-pinned joints, sliding dovetails, dado & rabbet joinery and box joints.
I’m not looking for the best joint, or the easiest joint. I’m looking for a solid designed joint that does what it needs to do. So If you have suggestions that I may have forgotten or skipped, I am open to your ideas.
—Glen D. Huey