Episode #22: Workbench Top

Note: All of my old podcast videos have been moved to my YouTube channel.  You can now watch this video here:


15 thoughts on “Episode #22: Workbench Top

  1. Good episode! Your bench really came together nicely. What’s the wedding ring trick for boring horizontally?

    • Martin,
      The ring trick is an aid for holding the brace and bit level while boring horizontally. I learned it from Stephen Shepherd (Full Chisel blog). I’ll do a quick video on it in the next week or so. I think it’s easier to demonstrate than it is to explain.

  2. I gotta say this is a bench that I might build one day! Nice pine boards! BTW this is much better then cable TV!

  3. Hi Bob,

    Bench is looking good. There’s no way you could easliy do the long board edge planing as on your old bench.

    The backing to the holdfasts holes answers how the thin top can support the holdfasts. They were glue only? Do you think they’ll work well?

    I look forward to see how you use the bench in future.

    • Jeremy,
      The blocking under the holdfast holes was indeed hide glue only, attached using a rub joint. The holdfasts hold very well thanks to the thicker areas where the blocking is. I expect the blocking will hold just fine. If one pops off, I can put a couple of screws in them from the bottom for extra support. But I don’t expect to need to do this.

  4. Hello Bob,

    Great show as always, but why the split in the middle of the top? Has it got some kind of function other then letting the two planks work freely?

    P.S. Thanks to your episode on saw sharpening I’ve now tried it and its a real eye opener. It is really not as hard as you would think, so tanks for all the tips and video’s the are really great.

    • Jeroen,
      The split in the top can be used for a stop when planing across the grain, or for holding long boards against while sawing (akin to a bench hook). I’m going to demonstrate all the features of the bench in the next installment. Hopefully it will be more clear after that.

      Congratulations on sharpening your own saws! It’s a great freedom to be able to sharpen all your own tools and I really think anyone who works with hand saws should learn to sharpen them. Now that you’ve tried it, you should see a big difference in performance between a typical saw and a really sharp one. You’ll likely find that your definition of a sharp saw changes quite a bit, but now you are equipped to take care of them, so you won’t have to settle for “good enough” any more. Good for you!

  5. Congratulation for your bench. It was interesting to see how you fixed the top with screws in slotted holes. I am waiting for the workbench at work video.

  6. Why don’t you need to have blocking to support the holdfast holes in the apron? Sorry if the answer is obvious. Thanks for your very informative videos.

    • Theodore,
      I’m not sure if you watched Episode #21 or not, but in that episode, when I built the base, I added a 3/4″ ledger board to the inside of the aprons to support the cross braces. This 3/4″ board effectively is blocking for the apron holdfast holes since it increases the thickness of the apron at the holes from 1½” to 2¼”, which is thick enough to hold the holdfasts securely.

      • Hi Bob,

        Sorry I am late to all this; I just discovered your site.
        Great video and design; I am seriously considering building a bench like this and the video will be invaluable.

        I too was a little confused on this point mostly because the sketchup file seems to show it for the rear apron but leaves this ledger for the front apron out. You use the plural here and refer to the holdfast holes so I can assume there is indeed a ledger intended for both aprons?



        • Yes, there are ledgers on the insides of both aprons. I’ve probably said this before, but I should mention it again. The Sketchup file is NOT a plan. I made plenty of modifications between drawing it and building it. I don’t really work from plans, so it would be wise not to copy the Sketchup rendering verbatim. I only made it to get a general idea of some of the layout, but I really didn’t build to the plan. Honestly, I should really stop using Sketchup, or at least stop sharing my Sketchup drawings because they typically are not representative of what I actually do in the end.

  7. Bob,
    Thanks for the detailed videos of your bench build. I’ve referenced them many times while building my own Bob-style bench, also attempting to use hand tools as much as possible. As I’ve recently completed the base and am moving on to the top and work-holding fixtures, I notice that your bench features cross-braces under both ends of the top, which I’m guessing adds better support to those wings. Would you do that again, or do you feel like you’re missing out on clamping potential on those ends? Also, as an aside, I am stunned by how many hours and how much sweat I’ve spent trying to get my apron boards flat–and there’s still some twist there. My top boards, fortunately, were much flatter out of the gate. Lesson learned.

    • I notice that your bench features cross-braces under both ends of the top, which I’m guessing adds better support to those wings. Would you do that again, or do you feel like you’re missing out on clamping potential on those ends?

      The braces don’t prevent clamping at all. Even with the braces under the top at the end, it’s still only about 4½” thick, so I can still clamp to the ends just fine if I really need to. I sometimes clamp over the front apron too. With an 18″ bar clamp it’s no problem. I just put the pad of the clamp screw on the borrom of the apron. I never understood the arguement against this bench style as not being able to clamp to the front of the bench because of the apron. I’ve never had a problem doing so.

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