A friend of mine gave me some 8x3 construction grade beams which were rescued from a skip following completion of an engineering project. Despite the shocking state of some of them and the preponderance on huge knots, it became a bit if a mission to turn them into a my first proper bench. The top and aprons stayed as 8x3 to minimise grief, though even at that I don’t think I could have planed those big knots without the thick bladed low angle plane that I was fortunate enough to have. As others have mentioned, fitting the quick release vice was a challenge (and I would probably go with Richards wooden one if I do this again) but the project had a ‘use what you have’ ethos so the old Parkinson went in. It’s no beauty but I wanted it’s roots to show and to see the learning experiences I had along the way. I hope this gives someone confidence to just get on and build with what they have, you learn so much. Thanks to Richard and Helen for the inspiration and guidance in your videos.
I've always wanted to try one of these. Took about a day to knock this up. I love the way it turned out. Feels great and is easy to setup. I had an old blade that had been sitting around the shop with nothing for it for years. So I decided to build this plane. It's something I've been thinking about for years now, but thought it would just be a pain to deal with. Not at all, this might turn into my go-to Jack from now on.
used rough sawn oak and ash for the trestles and carriers and rough sawn hard maple for the top and sides all trueing and dovetailing and shaping and leveling done with 3rd generation hand sheffield steel tools. Can't thank you enough Richard for so many tips and knowledge you have passed along to this woodworker. Bench is 7'-0" x 2'-6" Centre offset board in top is loose and will let it settle for the winter. Plan on drilling slots for tools and undermount shims so it can be raised up for another planing stop to work against. First coat of linseed oil on it and many more to go. I was taught once a day for a week, once a week for a month and once a month for a year....... thanks again and love the stability of this old design
I build it from stuff that i had. top and aprons are pine and legs are spruce. aprons are bit thin but it's working great. i only added legvice on far side, this side is just used with holdfasts. i'm still adding holes as i need them. i have now been using this bench for year and it's just everything i hoped and more :) i made it bit wide, as i need some extra support and it gives me option on working on both sides at the same time with ease.
Hi Richard, Just putting the finishing touches on the workbench, which was my first actual woodworking project with the exception of the plane build. Everything went fairly smoothly. It’s 8’ long and 36” tall, made from Eastern Hemlock. I opted for a 3” thick top that finished a bit strong of 2.75”. Thanks for a great design and instruction. Looking forward to putting some miles on it now. Cheers, Rob
Some ideas inspired by this video. Used scrap bits of pine from work. Thankyou Richard & Helen
Warm Greetings Helen & Richard - from Seattle, Washington (on the left coast), USA. Most simply stated, I could not have done it without you both! Helen, you are, among other skills, a talented videographer. There's little, if anything at all, you could have improved in capturing Richard's excellent and animated and oftentimes humorous instructions in the English Workbench video series. Richard, you're a unique man! A gifted woodworker with a remarkable ability to patiently explain and convey in easily understandable language and entertaining demonstration the various skills and tasks required to build a workbench. Amazing instruction! I've done all types of deconstruction and construction on various houses we've owned over the years, but I was not a woodworker, nor did I ever have a workshop. I searched the internet for weeks during the latter part of last year looking for instructions on how to build a sturdy, well designed workbench, built primarily with hand tools. I found you, The English Woodworker! My first steps in early 2019 was converting a corner of our garage into my "workshop" and purchasing appropriate hand tools. By early March I had viewed enough chapters of The English Workbench - multiple times - to feel comfortable purchasing the raw materials for the bench. I selected European Beech for my workbench without really knowing what I was getting into. It's beautiful wood, hard as a rock and heavy! When I got it home, I realized I had purchased a real challenge. I was unable to saw it with a hand saw, especially a Japanese pull saw, was unable to drive a nail in it without bending it and unable to drill a hole with an auger and bit. I began to wonder what I'd gotten myself into. I'm not a large man but I'm a determined soul. Although I'd wanted to build the bench with hand tools, I realized that I had to use some power tools (saw, drill), at least a little, or I wasn't going to have a workbench. I started dimensioning the lumber in March and had completed the trestles by the end of April. Unexpected challenges were ahead! On May 2, I fell from an 8' ladder while pruning a tree in our yard, something an almost seventy-five-year-old man shouldn't be doing! Long story short: I shattered my left heel bone (fortunately not my "head" bone), the injury required surgery (which the surgeon described as being somewhat like trying to put a cracked egg shell back together); it took ten screws and a plate to put my heel back together, hardware I'll have from now on; I was unable to put any weight on the left foot for over three months, so I couldn't walk except with a walker; I had to go up and down stairs on my butt; work on the bench stopped. During the last week of June I was able to get down to the workshop and slowly resume work on the bench. Since I was unable to stand, I had to sit. That was a challenge! Not sitting, but working on the bench sitting down! I did most of the work and finished my workbench sitting down! Is it perfect? Oh, hell no! Am I proud of it? Oh, hell yes! Does it work? Yes indeed! A few details: as mentioned earlier, the wood is European Beech (actually "German Beech" was stamped on the edge of the lumber); the bench is 83' x 29 1/2" x 28" H with a 1 1/4" gap running the length of the top for clamps and another gap, 1/2, " for tools while working on a project, the top also has a 1 3/4" overhang on the back; I decided against applying a finish because I didn't want the worksurface to be slick/slippery and because I really like the beauty of the natural wood. I must drill holes for holdfasts and bench dogs, then I'll be finished, I think. So why did I spend the time, energy, money and effort to build a workbench? I'm going to do something else I've never done - yet. I'm planning on building ukuleles! I'm hoping the first one might be complete by the end of this year! The joys of retirement! Thank you so very much for your assistance Richard and Helen! I wish you much continued success. Best regards, Ron Williams Seattle, Washington firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is my English Workbench, it got started and stopped, put in to storage and then, eventually finished. I didn't bother with the dovetail half laps and went with standard half laps as I always planned on painting the lower frame black. I haven't applied any finish to the top as I wanted to see how it moves before another flattening in six months or so time, the timber used to build this bench moved like buggery so I expect I will have some work to do. The Vice went together reasonably well with the main reason for using this face vice was because it I could straddle the leg as the bench is quite small (1400-1500mm) and also having reasonable capacity (300mm) between the guide bar and screw. Unfortunately the vice jaw bowed soon after installation, luckily I hadn't lined the jaw and just this weekend I opted to reflatten the inside face of the jaw with a combo of hand plane and chisel, lined the jaw and apron with a rubberised cork and beveled the leading edge. I'm dead chuffed with this bench.
This is my first bit of 'grown-up' furniture. It is made of European oak and it has a book-matched top, through wedged tenons (wedged with ebony), some ebony drawer pulls and a carved detail on the stretcher. I have incorporated curved tapered legs to lighten the stance of the table and chamfered the top for the same reason. The legs are draw-bored using ebony dowels, but these have been stopped rather than running through the legs. It seems to me that once the dowels have passed through the tenon there is no added strength to the joint (as the dowel is tapered) and it looks messy on the rear of the legs. I more or less followed Richard's processes, but I have to say that the method of cutting the dovetails in the back of the drawer front is definitely one I will never ever follow. This may be 'old school', but is wood butchery as far as I'm concerned and it looks rough.
Thanks you for the Hall Table inspiration. The dimensions changed to fit the use. A friend's hand cranked organ. Spalted maple base with Hard maple top. I have enjoyed each of your videos.
Can I build a functional sturdy work bench using handtools? This was the question I asked my self last year when i started my woodworking hobby, and today i can say "absolutely!" 2 months ago I started building this bench with a working strategy of breaking it down into small tasks so I won't get overwhelm by the enormous build. I invested 8 weekends, an hour every morning, sweat and blood, hours of reading & researching bench building books and you tube watching. And today I installed the last piece, waxed the top and call it finished :-) Project: Split top roubo bench for handtool Measurement: 4 3/4" thick top; 25" width; 6' long; 31" height Tools used: Handtools, almost everything on my tool cabinet Workholding: legvise, end vise, holdfasts, planing stop, top insert Finish: Tung oil finish; beezwax-mineral oil wax Wood: acasia
Not the sharpening but thought I would upload my version of Richards plane build. Built from kiln dried ash (never again!). Not easy to plane without tearing but very pleased with result and it works. Thanks Richard & Helen!
I've built several general purpose benches over the years, many of which for general site use. This is my first attempt at a joiners bench built purely using and for hand tool use. At 6' by 2' it's not big by any means but perfect for the size of projects I intend. Inspired by Richard's French bench series it was built around a laminated redwood slab found at a local timber merchant. It was 72" by 18" and just under 3" thick. The end trestles are ex 4" redwood with drawbore mortices. As we are soon moving the stretchers are stub mortices with coach bolts for easy knock down. The tool well is redwood and ply. The vice and deadman are ash, the runner chestnut and the pin guide iroko, may seem like odd choices but the materials were easily at hand. I'm intending a lower shelf but may include drawers. The bench took a little over three days spread over a week and cost £150 including hardware. I'm looking forward to many projects using this.
Pine base, cherry top, finished with Waterlox (tung oil varnish). Thanks Helen and Richard! Mike Harscher Kenosha, WI
My newly completed bench in my newly completed workshop. I couldn't be happier with the results, and Richards instruction and style helped a ton. A few years ago I wanted to get away from power tools, so I sold off what I could do without and started buying old stuff off eBay and restoring it. Finally got to the point that I had a room in the basement I could use for a workshop. After getting that all squared away, it was time for the workbench build. My first hand tool only project. Being able to build this bench without already having a bench was likely it's biggest selling point for me....no big laminations and such. But it also has a traditional beauty that I don't think can be denied. Since I couldn't get 8/4 pine here....we'll, I could, but the price rivaled beech and pacific coast maple. So I went to the home center and bought green doug fir construction lumber. Mostly 4x8, but also 4x6 for the legs, and some 2x boards for the trestles and bearers. The top three boards finished out about 3 1/8" thick, and I took the front apron down to around 2 1/2". While I'd have loved to go the wooden vise screw route, I was a bit worried about clamping narrow boards against the top, pulling on the apron. So I went with a twin screw, chain drive vise that attaches to the underside of the top. Works great, but was unfortunately more expensive than all the rest of the bench materials combined. The process of building it was great too. I learned a lot, and with so many trips to the sharpening stones, finally know what truly sharp is. Thanks for those videos as well! I've rambled on long enough. I simply can't thank Helen and Richard enough for putting out such great content in a way that's instructional, informative, and entertaining. Cheers to you both!
Finally finished my workbench I've been working on for about 4 months or so now. Hard to find time with a family and other stuff going on, home repairs etc. But I wanted to start working with hand tools, and what frustrated me the most about hand tools in the past was not having a way to hold them steady. I knew I needed a workbench to do some serious woodworking, so I started looking for a bench build. Most designs had a glued up top, which I didn't want to tackle since you kind of need a bench for the glue up, and a lot of clamps, which I don't have. So I narrowed it down to a couple benches, ultimately deciding on the English Workbench because : 1. it ticked all the boxes I needed, 2. it didn't need a glued up top, 3. the sample video quality and Richard's style blew away the competition, 4. Looks like they taught the basic skills needed, 5. I like the traditional look. So glad I chose this. I had barely any hand tool experience as far as joinery ( I had previously built things with table saw and pocket holes etc) I was able to build it with a pretty minimal set of tools as you can see. And I learned a TON of really good skills and joinery. A lot of little tips and tricks I never would have thought of. I did make some mistakes, but alder is cheap enough where a mistake wasn't very costly. But the best way to learn is by making those mistakes to see what works and what doesn't. I mainly followed the plans except I added the removable split top spacer to hold tools, allow for a saw/plane stop, and allow for clamping, as you can see in some of the pics. I used red alder, as that is about the cheapest wood available where I live, and much more stable than the construction grade wood at the big box stores. I slapped on several coats of BLO and turps, until it stopped absorbing anymore basically, probably 5 or 6 coats. Nice grippy surface. Used a $39 USD vise screw from Amazon, works good. Will add the Veritas pop up saw stop later. Since I shortened mine to 5' , I was having some space issues on the left with the vise parts already, didn't want to add another block of wood to that section. So far its working great, using it for working on a Ukelele kit with my daughter, and really enjoying all the clamping options. After that I'll probably crack on with the hall or side table build to build up my hand tool skills. Thanks!
What can I say ... thank you for organizing what I already knew and adding a few new puzzles in the process of sharpening. Norton should be thankful to you - India Stone is a real gem ...
It was quite a journey for me. This project is timeless. My version is pine with an ash top. Milk paint prepared according to 19th century recipe. I decided to build a drawer a bit differently but now it seems to me that I did some reconsideration ;-) During the construction I made a few "specialized" tools :-) All of Richard's tips are priceless. Thank you very much!
Quarter sawn white oak, sanded to 320, boiled linseed oil finish. The drawer is air tight and closes in slow motion similar to Richard's drawer -- my favorite part of piece. Gift for mom for Christmas. She lives in New Mexico, hence the turquoise and silver handle. Had a blast making it, plans and video tutorials were spot on.
My first real project, built over the course of a year. Kids (2.5 and 1 years now) , new job... not much time. No, it's not perfect and since I did change some initial design choices later on some things are a mess. Still, it's a bench, it is flat(ish), and it is mine and I built it! From construction grade spruce or fir, some pine, 180cm long, tool well (removable skinny board). I need to tweak the vise and screw guide bars - again, but I'm actually quite happy (and proud).
A really enjoyable build. Not much timber required and lots of interesting shaping and joining. I used Scots Pine a.k.a European redwood with a shellac finish. The drawer pull was one I already had. I think two pulls would have been better for a smoother movement. Sadly we have no use for it and have yet to find it a suitable home!
My side table build. I did more hand sawing than I intended. Broke my bandsaw blade on the 2nd leg & too lazy to go to the store. I confess that I gave my plunge router long meaningful glances while chopping the mortises but remained faithful. The biggest surprise was the how well the 'out of square' legs worked. I thought the frame would turn out wonky or out of square itself, but I had to measure twice at glue up b/c it was dead on. As always, your videos are terrific. I learned a lot and look forward to more.
Hi Richard & Helen, This was my first workbench build and to be honest I was a little uncertain about how it was going to turnout. I watched the videos and studied the plans quite a bit before I started. Almost to the point of stalling, however, once I got going everything went pretty smoothly. Sure I made a few mistakes along the way but I’m happy with the result and feel like it was all a great learning experience. Thanks again! Neil North Carolina
Poplar base and tiger maple top. The base is painted with General Finishes Milk Paint. The process for finishing the top is complicated. Final topcoats where Target EM6000.
Building this bench was hard work but worth every minute. After spending months of watching videos about building work benches I finally came across this and together with the way Richard teaches you how to Build it just so straight forward and with a bit humour which makes all the difference an the great camera work off Helen a thought well I reckon I can do that and well a good few nights after work and weekends I did ! And I even managed to get the top and aprons timbers free offthe last job I'd done for a customer 8x2 joists they worked a treat , I also wood 100% recommend the vice screw that Richard mentioned from dictum tools its pricey, £230 but amazing ! And hopefully I'll never need another. I built the bench 7ft long 26inch wide and 34inch high And it feels great I'm about 6ft tall and have 3 broken vertebrae in the middle of my back that had to be fused together in surgery and a bit of titanium scaffolding placed either side to straighten me back up and also have a battery with wires to my back implanted under my skin to stimulate the damaged nerves in my back to ease the pain , so the height was a big decision for me and so far so good 👍 I'm not sure how it's going to be if I have to cut lots of dovetails or pieces were you have to be bent over for long periods so I might have to adapt , but apart from that its probably the first and only bench I'll ever need it's a cracker solid as rock thanks Richard and Helen Ste
I ordered these wonderful screws from Richard a couple of year ago and have finally put them to use. I couldn’t be happier - these screws have immense power behind them, look gorgeous and run smooth as warm butter on toast. The English work bench series was instrumental in getting off my a**e and building it. Although I hope one day to see Richard undertake a series on the far too fashionable French bench (sorry mate). These were originally for my eventual Roubo bench but I needed a vice! So enter the Moxon-Felebien. It’s big - 9” high but I’m 5’ 8” and my bench is 29” largely for hand prepping. Also I find with my buggered back that ripping vertically or horizontally (and I’m using Japanese saws mainly) is easier on my back and ergonomically suited to eastern saws. With the huge capacity I’ll be able to use it for resawing with the frame saw I’m gonna build and ripping with my Maebiki Oga once I’ve sharpened it. Funny thing is with this vice and my giant slab sat on trestles I’m beginning to think I don’t even need a fancy bench - I just want one:-)) Thanks again to Richard and Helen for all their passion, inspiration, charisma and guidance.
My take on Richard's workbench is 2.4m long and 0.8m wide. I'm quite tall, so it's 94cm high and I have found that I like that height. The timber is a West Australian eucalypt called Karri, a whopping great tree that can grow 85m high, straight up with a spreading crown. It's used mainly for construction, but I think the timber is quite nice for furniture. The vises are from an Australian maker called HNT Gordon, and are fantastic. I can't speak highly enough of these face and tail vises. Thanks for looking, Zac.
I learned more than I could ever have imagined making this bench. Gave myself whopping awful tennis elbow using a dodgy hammer with a slightly loose head, and made every mistake in the book - sometimes while I was thinking about them even! But it’s done and I’m so happy with it... and so is the wife :)
My english bench is entirely made of 1 1/2" construction lumber. The aprons are two boards thick and the legs three boards thick. I did a bit different from Richard's plan. The aprons are seated at the bottom of the trestle's notch. To avoid problems with seasonal movement, the bearers are a tad higher than the trestles top, so the top dosen't touch the trestles. I just fitted a leg vise with a cheap metal screw from LeeValley. It's my second vise using this type of screw, it works great. I will do a second flattening soon, than a coat of tung oil, and voilà ! It's a bit on the rough side, I focused on fonction rather than look. A fun build and a solid bench for years to come. Thanks Richard and Helen for what you do, you guys rock ! Daniel Qc, Canada
This is the state of affairs with my bench build as of now: The top has to be prepared and a vise needs to be attached.
I had to move my bench together with all my tools to where I used to practice drums. The bench is ready to be used (despite the fact that it could use a planing stop and some coats of oil). For attaching the aprons and top I didn't had long enough nails... I can't resist the pun: I had to screw it up, but I think I nailed it. :)
A lot of work went into this, but the whole process was very satifying! A great project for beginners all the way up I'd say - I've only be doing this sort of thing for about a year and was able to follow along...made plenty of mistakes, but the end result is rock solid and a pleasure to use. One note - I'd install a vice like Richard uses - the Record QR one I had was a real pain to install (but worked out in the end)! A brilliant series - looking forward to the next one already (after I've made the spoon rack...for all my, er, spoons) Thanks Richard for a fun series
It was much more difficult and complicated work than I thought it will be... but the satisfaction in doing and making... that is something. My is 270 cm in width, 90cm in height, and 65cm deep. It took me four weekends to make. More than few mistakes made. Wrong measurements, resulting in gaps here and there. Not looking for twist or neglect them, resulting in problems with twisted bench frame (fortunately that twist correct itself). Doing things in the most laborious way. Now I can make all the mistakes that there are in woodworking world, with comfort of my workbench :-) I'm Polish. Around here, woodworking workbench is called "Strugnica". You can translate that as a "planing bench". On photos you can see whole proccess. Now is the time to organize all things in shop. There is a long list of items to build. Things like saw vise, sawing bench, tool shelf based on Paul Seller bookcase. And now about video series. What I really like about your series is that you not only explaining how to build, but also why it's constructed that way and not the other. For example, you talk much about top movment over time, and how all construction elements are design to minimise that movement. Or when you talked about workbench height. You explain this with very concrete arguments for both low and high workbench. And you left the decision to others what they need. Another thing is that you go step by step, exactly, not skiping any obvious thing. I do not recall the moment in which I miss some information that I needed. What I like is that you are focusing on getting job done. I mean live for this, you have to be efficient. There is a lot information about how to make thing beautiful. But how to make thing efficiently... that is a valuable information. So, please continue this in your videos. -- Pozdrawiam Aleksander Stacherski
I made it from ash and european walnut, having failed miserably with my first attempt in pine. That said, it was never less than a pleasure to be working on this project and I have learned an awful lot, particularly about the importance of accuracy in preparing the wood (and I only sliced my finger open once). The feeling of satisfaction is enormous and it is the most complex thing I have built to date.
Spoon rack from a discarded mahogany-ish table top. The wood was heavily "rowed" and a pig to plane. Resorted to an embarrassing amount of sanding, I don't own any moulding planes, so the cove was formed with a rebate, followed by sandpaper round a dowel, and the beads on the drawer front were made with a homemade scratch-stock. Fitted small brass "turn-buckles" to the underside of the drawer opening. In one orientation they act as limiters to the draw movement (both in and out) and in the other they pass through small apertures in the drawer back to allow it to be removed. David A
Photo before finish. I used Oak for bulk of the rack, and put one walnut panel in middle at the back just to break it up a bit. I made it as a Christmas present for my mum. The first time I saw the introduction video for the spoon rack I knew I had to make one.
Just finished the spoon rack. I had so much fun doing it and learned such a lot without realising it. A few mistakes along the way, but it's the best way to learn. Thanks Richard and Helen for such entertaining and informative videos. John Seddon Kintyre Scotland.
Hi Richard and Helen, Here are a few images of the spoon rack I completed a couple of weeks ago. I'm fairly happy with results, I still struggle to get dovetails tight - and have done for a while - still not sure quite what I'm doing 'wrong' but they're OK. Also not having a round for the front moulding, I just rounded it off like the piece above it. I think it is an excellent idea as test piece, lots of different techniques and tools used, but small enough to make relatively quickly, and complete to a 'good enough' standard by even a relative beginner. As someone who has made a couple of canoes, I thought it was particularly interesting the you included some freehand shaping as well as the discipline of truing and squaring. Fran Bemrose
Richard, a couple of pictures of the one I made. I used ash for the body and the drawer is oak. Both are just finished with a clear wax which has worked really well on the ash. I really enjoyed following the videos. My daughter has already claimed the finished product and as I have twin daughters I need to get on with the next one! Best regards Robert
I found making the guides for the side table project a little tricky as I still need to improve my working accuracy. The end result looks great though. The project delivered some excellent learning points that I can carry forward. Looking forward to the next project. Thanks again. Kind regards Barry.