Timber Workbench





Introduction: Timber Workbench

Welcome to the Manliest Workbench Build Ever!

Step 1: Locate Wood and Begin Cutting

A friend of mine has a dead tree removal service, so with a steady supply of potential material I decide to make a super-manly workbench. We acquired two hefty logs cut from a dead pine tree.

Using an Alaskan Chainsaw mill, we built a jig to assist with the first cut, to remove the top rounded part of the log. I wanted planks and legs for the workbench that were way bigger than anything you could get at Lowes or Home Depot.

The poor mans saw mill is adjustable, so for the second cut, we dropped the depth to 8".

Step 2: Making Legs

I wanted the legs to be approx. 8"x 8". So we rotated the log 90 degrees, re-attached the jig, and cut off the rounded part of the log. Then drop the mill setting to 8" depth and cut again.

Initial length of the legs was 48".

Step 3: Planks

Repeated these step for the planks on a second log. The log was cut with the chainsaw to be exactly 12' in length. Depth adjusted on the mill to 4". Each plank ended up being approximately 12" wide. It varied a bit from plank to plank with some natural curvature of the log. I wanted the front plank of the bench to retain the Live Edge look, but the back side of it, and both sides of the second plank were cut at 90 degrees to the surface.

I first used a belt sander on the planks to get rid of the chainsaw cut marks, but then decided I wanted a more 'rough' look so I sandblasted the top surface. The sand will blast out the softer wood and leave the grain, which is harder and more resistant to the sand.

Step 4: Back Board

I decided to make a sort of 'backsplash' that I could hang tools on, so I cut an extra plank at 2" thick x 12 ft. Came up with a better idea later and decided to install power there.

Used the router again and routed in two parallel recessions for the two power strips I bought.

The power strips required some modification because the pre-wired plug came out the end and I needed it to come out the back of the strip... But that's Another Instructable!

Step 5: Bench Top Assembly

There might have been an easier way to join the two planks, but I used a 1/2" spade bit (12" length attached to a 12" bit extension) to bore horizontally through the planks, starting from the rear. I intentionally stopped approximately 4" from the front of the front plank. Working with the planks upside down, I approximated the location of where the bore hole was, and used a router to create a 2"x2" hole. That connected to the drilled tunnel.

I unfortunately didn't take any pictures of this part of the assembly, but I used 4 pieces of 3/8" all-thread, about 18-20" in length, placing two fender washers and a nut on the all-thread in the routed hole. After drilling out matching holes in the backboard, it was placed on the all-thread and secured with two fender washers and a nut. One person can hold one of the nuts with a wrench, and the other can use a ratchet to tighten the rear nut, drawing the two planks and the backboard together. The all-thread were spaced out about every 24 inches along the length of the bench.

After assembling the work surface, it took an extra few hands to safely help me flip the work surface. Then using sawhorses and more help, assembled the legs in position for a mock-up. I decided the 48" legs were way too high, so I trimmed them down to 40" with the chainsaw.

Step 6: Final Assembly

With the bench moved back I to the garage, the legs were added with it in its final position. 2 7/8" HeadLok screws were used to affix sturdy right angle braces to two adjacent sides of each leg.

Chrome diamond plated power strips fit in pretty nice.

Also added another black pipe feature, this holds the shop towels.

Step 7: Shore It Up

You can see from this picture of the underside, there were some gaps. I don't own the precision saw equipment that can handle the size of this timber, so a chainsaw had to do. There was a little bit of a wobble and I wanted the bench to have a more Industrial look so I braced the rear legs to the underside of the bench with 2" black pipe bought down at the plumbing store. What you see are: a 12" section of pipe, connected at each end by a 45 degree ell and a floor flange.

On the front I decided to get fancy. I designed a swivel stool that hangs from the underside of the bench, and is connected to the leg at a right angle. The wooden bench seats were pre-fab you can pick up at Lowes.

Finally, added the foot rail across the front. It's set out further from the bench on the right. Due to the curve of the log, the right front leg started further back in.

Step 8: Final Touches

At the end, I still had to use a few shims to stop the wobble. Also, due to the drawn out nature of this project (8 mos) one of the bench planks warped a bit, making the work surface a little unlevel. This is my first project with non-Lowes acquired wood so there's some more learning to do. Perhaps the wood would not have warped if I would have built the entire bench immediately, or dried it in a kiln. (Read that Instructable).

Also, I treated the wood with some stuff called Bora-Care, which kills any critters in there. There were definitely some pine beetles because I found larvae several times after discovering sawdust underneath one of their bore-out holes. The worm holes add a nice touch though.

Not sure what's up next for the bench. I'm thinking about distressing it with chains, files, ball peen hammer and the like. Then distressing it with motor oil in some spots or different shades of stain... Lots of methods out there that I've been reading about.

Thanks for checking it out!

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    53 Discussions

    Nice build sir! What size of pipes/flanges did you use for seats & what's the weight they can hold?

    1 reply

    Thank you! The large pipe is 3” pipe. The side brace of the stool is a 3”pipe connection with a 1” Tee. Then used a short 1” pipe section to connect to the 1” floor flange attached to the leg.

    There’s a floor flange used to connect stool to underside of bench, and another to connect to the underside of the seat. These are 3” floor flanges. The size of the flange is referred to by the diameter pipe it connects with. 3” pipe isn’t available in my local Lowes or Home Depot. Had to go to a plumbing store. They had bins and bins of connections so you can test fit your design right there.

    Outstanding build and instructional. You will need to level the bench two or three times the first year, a couple of times the second year, and then it will start to settle down. Well worth your effort no doubt. It is pure workbench porn. Beautiful. The black pipe really adds to it. I love it.

    I find just using it, including eating, writing on it, doing projects, including spilling stuff etc will distress it just fine. And then you have all those memories. (esp if you let kids have access!)

    That is gorgeous. The warping could also be contributed to where u placed the legs & how big it is. Popularwoodworking.com has a lot of free pfd files that u can download once u sign up as a free member. There's one I really like that called "How To Build A Table". It's 14 pages of info! I love how you added the pipes & installed the seats. Freaking awesome!!

    Wow! This workbench is truly amazing. I like how those pipes and wood combine together. By the way, thumbs up for that old school chopper. What is its model?

    Beautiful bench - awesome! I really like how massive and sturdy it is. Great work!

    With greatest respect to your most excellent build, I am astonished by your mention of "distressing" ! Why would you work so hard at pretending to be busy ? You made a workbench, not a fashion accessory !

    Get more constructive, not destructive, just use it ! Strip a few engines, weld a chassis, build a boat ! The bench will then gladly join with your creations in bearing witness to your skill and creativity !

    I was wondering if you chose to make it out of pine by fluke, i.e. It was available, or because of its light wt. and easy workability.

    1 reply

    Probably both. We've got a ton of it around, and was easy (relatively easy) to cut. A hardwood like oak, which we also have, would have been a monster pain to cut. As it was, each horizontal cut down the length of that pine still took about 15-20 minutes of pushing and jimmying the chainsaw. We would also stop and add shims to the cut so the newly forming plank didn't bend back toward the log and potentially bind the saw.

    Dude, this is bad ass! I agree that allowing the wood to dry would have made this a much easier build. Regardless, this table is gonna have some character and be a total heirloom. Kudos!

    1 reply

    When milling your own lumber, make sure to at least let it dry.
    This could account for a lot (if not all) of your wobbling.
    Here's a great instructable on building your own kiln.

    I'm definitely asking for a Chainsaw Mill for my birthday!