In Shop Blog, Workbenches

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In the year and a half since I built my bench I’ve been very happy with it, my only real regret is that I didn’t make it earlier. It’s solid, suits my needs and easily holds anything I want. I’ve heard from a lot of readers who have made there own version, and met one reader at Woodworking in America who shared his progress with me as his bench took shape. Earlier this summer I saw a feature on a bench made by Jameel Abraham that I wanted to incorporate, a tool rack combined with a planing stop in the center of the bench.

This morning I got motivated and with a half-inch diameter straight cutter mounted in my plunge router, I made a slot down the middle of the bottom of one of the removable, reversible tool trays. With the tray mounted bottom side up, I now have a slot in the bench to park edge tools while I work.

With phase one of my plan complete, I moved on to phase two-a simple stop that drops in the slot. I went over to the scrap bin and found a likely candidate, a chunk of poplar about an inch thick. I trued an edge and both faces and ripped it to 1-1/4″. Then I cut a rabbet on each side, leaving a tongue about 3/4″ long and just a bit less than 1/2″. I dropped it in the slot and took it for a test drive.

I think it’s a handy addition, and I’m grateful to Jameel for sharing his cleverness. If you’ve made a version of my bench, let me know how it’s working for you, and any changes or slick additions you have made.

If you’d like to build your own version of this bench, but don’t want to tackle it on your own, I will be teaching a week-long class on building the 21st-Century Workbench next year at Kelly Mehler’s school in Berea, Kentucky. I’m planning on having a great time, and the school is an incredible facility. When I built the original version, I limited myself to a hybrid table saw, a 6″ jointer and a 12″ lunchbox planer. Kelly is much better equipped, and it’s worth the trip for the opportunity to use his shop and equipment. Best of all, the rough milling will be done ahead of time. There are a few spots still available for this class.

–Robert W. Lang

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  • Simon St.Laurent

    I’m interested in the class, but also pondering building the 21st-Century Workbench with a Benchcrafted wagon vise in place of the current tail vise.

    Would there be room for that kind of modification in the class?


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