Some Things Just Never Change


The last post I made here was a bit of a departure from my normal obsessing over the various design options available to me when I am in the mood to dive into building another work bench.

Above you can see what has me paused for reconsideration of design. That is the Lie Nielsen large workbench. That thing retails at a cool $3500, + shipping on a parcel that has to weigh in at roughly 400 pounds. Not cheap.

Taking the Lie Nielsen  vises out of the equation for the moment, this bench exhibits some really attractive qualities in a blend of Scandinavian and Roubo styles.

For example, the legs are flush with the top just like in a Roubo bench. This allows for more clamping surface and also a place to use hold fasts for clamping also. (see hold fast holes in right side leg.)

While the base is of a trestle construction, a feature shared by some Roubo benches and traditional Continental/Germanic/Scandinavian work benches. This one deletes the feet normally found at the bottom of the legs of most traditional benches.

For what I have in mind, this is an interesting hybrid. Since I am going to be devoting more time to using hand tools for my work in The Tiny Shop, I will need a very stout bench to withstand the forces that operations like hand planing and the shock of blows delivered during joint fitting deliver . However, the bench will also be doing double duty as an outfeed table for my table saw. This is actually fortunate because my preferred bench height for hand tool work is almost exactly the same as my table saw height. (34″ from the floor)

Initially, I had planned to laminate 7 4″x6″x8′ together face to face to create a nearly 6″ thick top. However, given that the overall length will be less than 8 feet, this will not only be overkill, but might just …well…look funny. I also considered laminating 2″x6″ material together just like I had for my main bench, but frankly I am less than enthusiastic about this also. It’s a lot of work to mill, and glue 14 separate boards together without the help of a professional glue rack and deep-throated clamps to accept the oversized boards. Not to mention the lack of a wide belt sander to help me flatten the top after glue up.

That leaves me with a couple of choices should I decide against either of the two bench top fabrication choices above.

I could edge glue 4 4x6x8 timbers. This would get me a top that was just shy of 4″ thick and 24 inches across by 72-ish inches long. the timbers are thick enough to withstand multiple flattening operations with hand planes while the wood settles down and acclimate to The Tiny Shop.


I could just laminate 6 4x4x8 timbers to approximate the same thing, but with several more glue joints. In thinking it over, I think that having a 4″ thick top has several advantages over the radical thickness I considered before. Chief among them is that it will make chopping out the through mortises a little easier.

Still I must confess to being drawn to the heft of multiple thick timbers laminated together. I am just having a hard time envisioning what that will translate into visually on a bench that is less than 8 feet long and at a 34″ working height. The proposed length would be somewhere between 6 and 7 feet.

I suppose I will end up going with my gut.

Right now, the gut consensus is to go ahead and build the monster bench top, and slap it on top of some sort of hybrid Scandinavian/Franco trestle base a’la Lie Nielsen.

This also brings me back to the original thinking behind building a Roubo at all. I would kind of like to have “one of each” so to speak. (Scandinavian and Roubo) So why the hemming and hawing? I guess it’s just what I do once the itch to build ANOTHER workbench gets a hold of me.


5 thoughts on “Some Things Just Never Change

    1. madcapwoodwright Post author

      Airheadedness aside though, I find myself having to remind myself that ultimately, this is going to be an outfeed table first, and hand work bench second. I have a lovely Continental/Scandinavian/Traditional bench that works quite well for most operations. The new,proposed bench would be specifically for hand tool operations. Dog holes, dedicated vises, etc.
      I have a love/hate relationship with this whole process. LOL, with most other projects and commissions I am prety decisive.
      When it comes to this workbench addiction, I can spend days, weeks, months weighing all my options, discovering other options as they relate to material possibilities, vises, style.
      I suppose it is something of a good problem to have. I like that I can tweak various design features in my head or on paper before cutting a single stick of wood. Usually once I settle on the final concept, I am pretty good to go and can knock things out rather quickly.
      The 4In top you describe Mark, seems to be the thickness I continue to settle on as best case for this bench. As much as I would love to turn 4×6’s on edge and glue them together, the more limitations amd modifications I find I would need to do to make that thickness work for me. Vises become a little problematic and choices become more limited the thicker I go. So in my longwinded way, I agree with you.


    1. madcapwoodwright Post author

      Total weight is unknown. The weightofmy Scandinavian bench with a 5″ top has got to be pushing 400 lbs though. I have to believe that this proposed replacement for my out feed table would be close to that. As far as moving it, my shop is too small to move it anywhere, in fact I’m concerned about constructing it there now that I think of it. Until a new and improved The Tiny Shop is built, the bench will be staying where it is planted.



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