As my interest in woodworking developed and my projects became increasingly complex, I realized it was time to put my makeshift work surface (sawhorses and an old door) aside and build a proper woodworker's workbench. Instructable members have published some great benches (see members jdedge and scotttland), but I wanted to build one that would meet my specific needs while providing the opportunity to develop a new woodworking skill at the same time. I settled on a plan from Fine Woodworking Magazine called the "Not so big Workbench" (plan available on the finewoodworking.com website for around $12 when on sale). This workbench is constructed using mortise and tenon joinery which I decided was a necessary skill to learn since I have a number of future furniture projects in mind. The plan also offers a great deal of tool storage which, while not part of this instructable, I plan to add to my workbench in the near future.

Note: This instructable is not intended to be a substitute for the actual "Not so big Workbench" plan. Instead, the goal is to provide a general overview of how to build any workbench using mortise and tenon joinery. If you decide to build the "Not so big Workbench" it would be wise to purchase the plan at the finewoodworking.com website.

Step 1: Using Basic Tools to Build This Project

If you watch any of the woodworking shows on public television you know the pros have workshops stocked with every sophisticated power tool available today.** Because they have a specific tool for every task their projects seem effortless and always go together flawlessly in a 30 minute show. Unfortunately, most of us (including myself) don't have many of these tools at our disposal. For that reason, the focus of this instructable is to detail the challenges and solutions in building a mortise and tenon style workbench using the limited number of tools many of us own.

** For example: in the fine woodworking step by step video for building the "Not so big Workbench", Ed Pirnik uses a mortising machine to cut near perfect mortises requiring minimal clean up with a chisel. The video is available to online fine woodworking members only. The charge is $4.99 a month for full access to the site but is well worth it, in my opinion.

Here are the tools I used to create this workbench:

Miter Saw - to crosscut workbench lumber to length

Table saw - to mill the lumber to the proper dimensions (4' x 4' x 6' Douglas fir, ripped to size for legs, stretchers and trestles)

Dado blade set for the table saw - to cut the tenons

Power drill - using Forstner bits to drill the mortises and dog holes (spade bits would be acceptable as well)

Wolfcraft drill jig - to control the drill and provide greater precision when drilling - purchased for this project at Amazon.com ($25)

Assorted chisels (1/4", 1/2" and 1") - to remove waste from the mortises and fine tune the tenons

Random orbit Sander - 80 up to 220 sandpaper grits to smooth surfaces for finishing

Hammer - for inserting hardwood pins in the base joints to help prevent racking over time

Rubber Mallet - for base assembly

Block Plane - to fine tune tenons

5' clamps - for assembly of the workbench base
Great table, I hope to make one soon. Can anyone elaborate on the 'dog holes'? I'm drawing a blank on how holes that small can be used to secure stuff to the table. Thanks!
<p>Hi, I've added your project to the <em>&quot;Make Your Own Workbench!</em><em>&quot;</em> Collection</p><p>This is the link If you are interested:</p><p><a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Own-Workbench-For-the-Workshop/">https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Own-Work...</a></p>
<p>Hi, I've added your project to the <em>&quot;Make Your Own Workbench!</em><em>&quot;</em> Collection</p><p>This is the link If you are interested:</p><p><a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Own-Workbench-For-the-Workshop/">https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Own-Work...</a></p>
<p>I wonder where is the retractable wheels. In Spain not find them on any site. Do you know somewhere online? Could make a blacksmith?</p><p>thank you very much</p>
The website is rockier.com. I don't know if they will ship to Spain. You could email them from the customer service page on their website and ask.
<p>Great bench design! I bought a 2 1/4&quot; maple b-top from Grizzly.com. Will follow you design. </p><p>Thanks for sharing</p>
<p>This is a fantastic Instructable! I am trying to organize the shop and I'd love to have a workbench like this one. </p>
<p>Nosotros los espa&ntilde;oles para poder enterarnos de los Instructables tenemos que usar el traductor de google.</p><p>Sirvan estas letras para revindicar para todos los hispanohablantes la traducci&oacute;n de estas paginas </p><p>atentamente</p><p> texeiro</p>
<p>I was looking for this casters (or wheels) and I found them on Rockler a few days ago, now I see them on your bench work tha is exactly how I want them to be on mine:)</p><p>Teixeira I'm from Portugal and Rocklet asks allmost 60 dollars to send them :(</p><p>Can't understand why so much for Rockler shipping costs?</p><p>Very good bench.</p>
Sorry, spelled it wrong. Should be ROCKLER.COM.
<p>I wonder where is the retractable wheels. In Spain not find them on any site. Do you know somewhere online? Could make a blacksmith?</p><p>thank you very much</p>
<p>this looks great !</p>
I would agree that using a spade bit to drill the mortises would cause the bit to deflect or wander into the adjoining hole.
<p>excellent ible</p><p>so much detail. </p>
<p>Its best to not overlap the drilling, just drill as close as possible without overlapping. This will ensure smooth drilling and also its just as easy with the chisel cleanup</p>
<p>Have you ever heard about METRIC SYSTEM?? thank you!</p>
Great job, both with the project and the Ible. However, I fear you have made one small miscalculation, namely the capacity of your casters. In a caster arrangement such as this it is considered good practice to use casters that are each able to hold the expected load. This &quot;over rating&quot; is to account for the added stress when a wheel is rolled over a bump. Rolling over a bump can create a considerable load on an individual caster. The force could be calculated by those engineers among us taking into consideration travel speed, weight of bench, size of expected bump, etc, however that is some complicated math so it is much easier to simply use the 4:1 safety factor.
The Rockler catalogue describes these as heavy duty casters (100 lbs. <u><em><strong>per</strong></em></u> caster) and pictures them being used on a very large workbench. Since my bench weighs somewhere in the range of 100 lbs, I feel confident they will do the job. Still, your excellent explanation will not be forgotten. However, isn't it strange that the point you make isn't clearly explained in the catalogue descriptions?
I applaud your endeavor! Very nice job! <br> <br>I would like to make a few comments, I hope they won't be taken negatively, They are not to be taken as criticisms, only my thoughts. <br> <br>When ripping to size: <br> <br>One point to consider is internal stresses in the wood. Granted that allowing the wood several days to stabilize is a good idea, there are situations where the internal stresses in the piece of wood remain. For example if one rips a 1 X 12 in two pieces of nearly equal width there is a good chance that the pieces will be out of true to a point where they will NOT return to a &ldquo;nice board. The reason for that is that stresses are now unbalanced, Utilizing boards near to the desire width can minimize this problem. Also utilizing boards free of knots will obviously help. Not to say that I haven&rsquo;t used wood with knots. I have and only if the knots are &ldquo;sound&rdquo;. I think knots can add character to the finished piece. <br> <br>Not having a jointer or planer I have used a similar procedure many times, However, I have given up on surfacing with the blade. I have experienced poor surfacing using this method. The blade is loaded asymmetrically and flexes. The result is an &ldquo;out of square&rdquo; cut. This flexure is only attenuated with a blade that has lost some of its &ldquo;edge&rdquo;. My &ldquo;fix&rdquo; is to cut with some waste on the other side of the blade. This helps balance the loading. And yes if the one side of the blade is duller than the other only compounds the problem. Also, attempting to &ldquo;surface&rdquo; exacerbates asymmetrical wear on the blade. <br> <br>I must say I haven&rsquo;t googled &ldquo;jointing on a table saw&rdquo;. My comments are from my own experience and analysis. <br> <br>When drilling out the mortise: <br> <br>I would not suggest using a spade bit. Spade bits can NOT be used when boring overlapping holes. Only disastrous results will occur if attempted, both to the work piece point of view and worse, the harm it may inflict on the woodworker. Forstner bits, as you used, are a very good choice. <br> <br>Adjusting for an uneven floor: <br> <br>Shimming under the legs is quite helpful to adjust for an uneven floor. <br> <br>Watco Danish Oil: <br> <br>I&rsquo;m also a big fan of Watco. Decades ago a friend of the family introduced me to Watco and a procedure for applying it. A procedure I have used since that introduction. <br> <br>He demonstrated applying Watco with 220 grit wet dry sandpaper. The result was an extremely smooth surface. It greatly reduced ssurface porosity by filling in the minute pores with the sandings. I have utilized this procedure on end grain with exceptional results. <br> <br>Regards, <br> <br>Jerry C
Thanks for taking the time to contribute such a thorough comment. I've built several pieces of furniture (see my table instructable) and had really good luck ripping lumber to size on the table saw. However, in those cases I was working with S4S oak lumber and not the rough 4&quot; x 4&quot; douglas fir used on this workbench. I know you are correct regarding the blade flexing when surfacing a board so I just skim off enough material to eliminate the cut lines and then do quite a bit of sanding. For the type of projects I've attempted to date, any minor imperfections (like a board slightly out of square), haven't compromised the end result.....however, having a jointer and planer would sure be nice!
At our local woodworkers guild, several members built workbenches using 2x4 framing lumber for the top. The pieces were planed down to get square corners, and then they were all glued together, with the 2x4s on edge. This made for an extremely durable top,a and some benches are 8 feet long without intermediate support. The tops were flattened with routers on a sled, and then covered with sacrificial hardboard. That was a great deal more effort than you went to, but that's just to illustrate another way to do it, and probably save a little money, too.
Nice job. I was involved in a woodworkers group who all built the Fine Woodworking bench as a group effort(before I joined). One modification which you can still make is boring &quot;dog holes&quot; over the length of your bench and mounting an additional vise to the right or left end. This allows you to clamp up long stock over its length as well. Good luck on your woodworking!
Very nicely done - thanks for sharing!
Your hope is met! Thanks for sharing your journey.
Very nice, thats make me happy
As we say here in South Afrika, this is a lekker little bench! <br>Thanks <br>Johan Van Tonder
Great bench thank you for sharing.
Nic work. <br>Good simple ideas to be reminded when I build mine ! <br>Thanks for posting
Great job. Thanks for sharing.

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Bio: It's said that to perfect a skill takes about 10,000 hours of work and study. If that's the case I've got ... More »
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