The student bench takes shape

If I was a sketch-up wiz, you would all have measured drawings for this bench by now, but that’s one skill beyond me. In lieu of that, I thought I might offer a few snapshots of the process, and the decisions I made along the way.

I should probably have begun by saying that this bench is already at work in my shop, and although it is currently serving auxiliary duties, it can handle pretty much all but the most rigorous planing with ease. For a basic hand tool class, it will be more than sufficient.

The bench is 34″ tall and the overall dimensions of the top are 2.5″ x 10″ x 48″ and the legs splay backward 10° making the spread of the legs from front to back around 17″. An extra lamination or two on the top wouldn’t hurt, but I don’t think it’s a deal breaker.

I decided to do a simple lap joint on the back cross stretcher and the end stretchers. The back stretcher notches were figured into the glue-up for the laminations. The others were just notched out after I did a dry run with the leg joinery.

Speaking of the leg joinery, each of the front tenons was the full 3 1/2″ width of the leg and I ended up wedging them in the end. The two back legs were bird’s beaks notched in the style of these sawbenches. I screwed them in, but a lag bolt or nails would do the trick.

I fit the front stretcher with drawbored mortise and tenons. I should have done the back this way, if only for style points.

I threw a coat of milk paint on the base and then attached the top and mounted the vise. Add a few dog/holdfast holes and this thing really comes into its own.

A few people mentioned the similarities to a bench of Charles Hayward’s design. I don’t own those books, but after looking at Jameel Abraham’s kids bench build in PopWood I can definitely see similarity. His has way more style. Mine was just an attempt to put my scrap pile to work for something other than bonfires. That being the baseline, I’m pretty happy where it went.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Is this for your apprentices or for something else? Looks quite useful.


    1. This is a sketch-up model of the student workbench I just built for the North Carolina Furniture School. More detailed info to follow.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jeff Branch says:

    SketchUp wiz or not, true shop drawings via SketchUp is a time consuming task although your handsome student bench wouldn’t be all that hard.


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