A Bench for Kids

Build a small workbench with full-sized features for a budding woodworker.

by Jameel Abraham
pages 44-50

“The bench is probably the most important item in the workshop.”

Those are Charles H. Hayward’s first words in his article “Fitting up the workshop: the bench.” As a woodworking vise manufacturer and bench maker, I couldn’t agree more. Tons of ink has been spilled about workbenches in the last 20 years, and I’m one of the guilty parties, so I won’t bore you with design philosophy on this one. OK, maybe a little.

First off, a little background on why I decided to make a kid’s workbench in the first place – perhaps a bit ironic for a 43-year-old bachelor. I’ve lived next door to my brother for a number of years and have probably spent more time in the shop with my nieces and nephews than if I’d had my own kids. Relationships between parents and children aren’t always conducive to teaching (I’m reminded of why the “Car Talk” guys recommend that parents not teach their own kids to drive). But trying to be the fun uncle placed me in a position to not only teach without the typical parent/child dynamics, but to make the workshop a fun environment instead of a stuffy classroom. In my experience, fun is the key element in teaching kids woodworking.

Earlier this year I decided to build a kid’s workbench as a prize for the Handworks hand tool event in Amana, Iowa. The idea was simple. Build the bench, then have kids write their name on the edge of a piece of basswood held in the bench’s leg vise, then plane off the shaving (along with their name) and place it in a box for a drawing the next day. The winner would take the bench home with them.

Website: Visit the author’s website and blog, and read more about his workbenches, tools and process.
Read: Find more free plans and information on workbenches on our website.
Article: Read “Jameel Abraham: Benchcrafted Tools,” Steve Shanesy’s profile of the author’s toolmaking company.
Blog: For another kid-friendly build, follow along with Yoav Liberman as he builds a tool tote with his students on our blog.
In Our Store: Read “The Workbench Design Book,” by Christopher Schwarz, for more ideas on building benches and their essential fixtures and features.

From the December 2017 issue, #236