Knockdown English Workbench
by Christopher Schwarz
Many knockdown workbenches suffer from unfortunate compromises.
Inexpensive commercial benches that can be knocked down for shipping use skimpy hardware and thin components to reduce shipping weight. The result is that the bench never feels sturdy. Plus, assembly usually takes a good hour.
Custom knockdown benches, on the other hand, are generally sturdier, but they are usually too complex and take considerable time to set up.
In other words, most knockdown workbenches are designed to be taken apart only when you move your household. When I designed this bench, I took pains to ensure it was as sturdy as a permanent bench, it could be assembled in about 10 minutes and you would need only one tool to do it.
The design here is an English-style workbench that’s sized for an apartment or small shop at 6′ long. It’s made from construction lumber and uses a basic crochet and holdfasts for workholding. As a result, the lumber bill for this bench is about $100. You’ll need four 2″ x 12″ x 16′ boards and one 1″ x 10″ x 8′ board.
I used yellow pine for this bench, but any heavy framing lumber will do, including fir, hemlock or even spruce.
The hardware is another $75. The supplies list notes high-quality hardware from McMaster-Carr; you could easily save money by doing a little shopping or assembling the bench with hardware that is slower to bolt and un-bolt.
The core of this workbench is ductile iron mounting plates that are threaded to receive cap screws. This hardware is easy to install and robust. The rest of the hardware is standard off-the-rack stuff from any hardware store.
No matter where you buy your lumber, make sure it has acclimated to your shop before you begin construction. This workbench is made up of flat panels, so having stable wood will make construction easier and will reduce any warping that comes with home-center softwoods.
Blog: How about a CNC-made workbench?
Blog: Christopher Schwarz on how to make your workbench more mobile.
Blog: Learn how to use construction lumber for workbenches.
Blog Read 10 years of writing on workbench theory and construction.
Plan: Download a free SketchUp model of this project.
From the November 2015 issue