Introduction: Simple Wood Workbench

About: Hi, I'm Craig. I live in the UK.

I wanted a sturdy workbench for my shed, it's made from softwood available from a local timber merchant.

The dimensions might seem a bit slim but it's based on leaving some space to move around the shed which is already half full of bikes and shelves. Total cost of materials was around £100 including delivery of the wood.

First I drew what I wanted in OpenSCAD, moving to the shed and laying out bits of wood and card to get an idea of how practical the size was (I have some notes on how I use OpenSCAD here). I wanted an apron on the front to clamp things upright and access to one side to clamp and be able to saw on the right hand side, I'm right handed. I also wanted space for storage underneath and room to get a broom under any rails.

EDIT: medelman2 pointed out that the raised rail at the back would be very inconvenient if you were building something similar and wanting to pull the bench out and use large sheet material! It's now a year after building and the number of bikes, swings and childrens toys has increased to the point that there is no chance I can pull mine forward :) The softwood top is holding up well, I've given it a light sand and linseed oil a couple of times.



  • Redwood (pine) 50mm x 100mm x 4.8m(it was closer to 47mm x 94mm now it's dry) : Three
  • Joists 47mm x255mm x 3.6m: One
  • Joists 47mm x 100mm x x3.6m: Three
  • PVA Wood glue
  • Dowel 10mm
  • Screws


Step 1: Worktop

The worktop is made from laminated dressed pine 100mm x 50mm. I cut the timber to the approximate length, I wanted the bench to be 1.5m long and the stock came in 50mm x 100mm x 4.8m so I cut each of the three lengths in to three pieces of about 1.6m.

The glue up was the biggest I've done and actually easier than I expected, I laid out the clamps and added plenty of PVA to one side of each length. I tried to keep everything flat by using C clamps on some boards at each end.

After it was dry I used a plain to flatten it, winding sticks help to check for an twist along the length.

Step 2: Legs

A pair of legs was made using four mortise and tenon joints. The 47mm x100mm x 3.6m joists were cut into eight lengths of 860mm and glued up in pairs, I also cut four lengths of 455mm for the cross braces.

I cut the mortises first so I could size the tenons to the actual size hole I'd cut - I was aiming for 25mmx50mm. I removed most of the material for the mortise with a forsner bit then used a chisel to clean them square.

I cut the shortest side of the tenon first to make the longest side a little easier. Once the tenon was cut I trimmed it to the correct size with a chisel.

Step 3: Assembly

I cut the 47mm x 225mm x x3.6m joist into two lengths of ~1.6m, the same length as the worktop. I cut 10mm off the top of the front apron so it had a square edge to meet with the rest of the worktop. The rear length sits 50mm higher than the worktop so I can't knock tools and pencils down the back.

It's likely the worktop will shrink in the first year or so, this means I have to be careful how I attach the legs else it will pop itself apart. So I'm using dowel pegs and glue to attach the legs to the front apron, there's a small gap between the back of the legs and the back board and the legs are secured to it with screws which can move through the back board. Thus if/when the worktop shrinks I can just tighten the screws a little and it's all good.

With the legs attached to the top, I added a braced to the back using a length of 47mm x 100mm joist using half-lap joints, these were secured with screws while the glue dried - I was racing the weather to get it inside before it rained and it's a lump to shift!

Step 4: Moxon Vice

With the bench assembled and used a little I saw a Moxon style vice at the left hand side would be a useful addition.

The Moxon or twin screw vice was described in Mechanick exercises by Joseph Moxon. He doesn't claim to have invented it and mentions it as one of the standard holding/clamping methods. The 1800s saw a rise in the use threaded bar/nuts due to more accurate lathe cutting process but screws threads had been around since before the 3rd century BC and the Romans used a screws used screw/threaded presses for olives in the first century AD so it doesn't seem unlikely that this style of bench clamp has been around for a long while.

The vice is as simple as it gets, a length of threaded bar and a nuts are used to compress two chops with the work-piece between.


Cost ~£24 for purchases

But I didn't use all of the nuts and washers so it could be said to cost £14.67. But both of these costs are kept small by the fact I already had the wood for the chops and handles.

  • Wood for the chops - I used 47mm x 255mm joist left over from the bench build.
  • Something for the handles


  • Square
  • Ruler
  • 20mm Forsner bit
  • Drill
  • 20mm (or adjustable) spanner

First I mark and drill 20mm holes in the chop and work bench front apron, the depth is set by 100mm of worktop plus space for a nut and a spanner. I cut a recess for a nut on the front of the apron to lock the threaded bar to the bench, for me this is >15mm deep, I go a couple of mm deeper than my M20 nuts. I secure the threaded bar leaving a useful amount protruding.

The plate of Moxon's vice shows the handles and threaded bar wee one, so turning the handles turns the bar and moves the chop. This is relatively easy to do if you are making your own screw thread, leaving a lump of wood at one end. However fixing a handle to zinc coated steel(it's damp in the shed) is a bit harder so on many modern cheap vices (like this one) the threaded bar is fixed then nuts move up and down to compress the chop. This is the very back of my shed so I'm not likely to be walking past and catch on on the end of the bar, even so they aren't going to be out to maximum extension most of the time.

I measure the same holes on the front chop and check it against the threaded bar before drilling. Then add a couple of nuts and washers to the front and it's done except for the handles.

I've seen many people make wooden or metal handles, I haven't seen any 3D printed ones yet... maybe for good reason? I can see how force against the nut would blow out a plastic handle so I'm going to re-enforce mine, my first thought was with metal from an aerosol can - this is designed to resist expansion so might help. However it proved to be very very thin, difficult to work with as it bent so easily and likely to slice my fingers so I used jubilee clips. In the video I run though how I drew the handle in 3D builder, it took less than five minutes to draw so it's not pretty but it works ok so far, once one of them fails I can try something else. The plastic and electricity made each printed handle cost about £1.20 each... which almost makes them the most expensive part :D