Joinery Bench Completed

Joinery Workbench for woodworkingI finished up the Joinery bench just in time to make a few test cuts then pack it up in the truck for the trip to Woodworking in America. I’m still considering this design to be a pseudo prototype and need to spend more time working with it before casting a final verdict. Thanks to the thousand woodworkers who stopped by at WIA to take a look and share some observations. There were more than a few saw cuts made and dovetails chopped on the top to give me a good sample of how the bench will perform when it counts.

Pegged through tenonIn my last post I had just finished up the top and legs and did a dry fit to see how it looked. To completely finish it off, I added the stretchers, chopped a through mortise and fitted a trestle made from 12/4 Mahogany. The fit of the trestle through tenons into the stretcher mortises needs to be exact so that the whole bench doesn’t wobble. Once that was fit, I marked the locations for the peg mortises, chopped them, then tapered some small blocks of White Oak to make wedges. Once these wedges are pounded in place, the base tightens up completely to a solid platform. I’m still experiencing a bit of wiggle from side to side. Fortunately, it will be rare to exert force on the bench that way outside of sawing tenons. To fix this I will probably be adding a dovetailed stretcher at the back. I’m still ruminating on this.

Joinery workbench top surfaceThe work surface is roomy and the tool tray has a few additions to hold my layout tools and my two most commonly used joinery saws. I will be adding some more things like a chisel rack in the future but I need to see what I really need first. I have left the work surface free of dog holes until I need them. Most often I work on bench hooks without securing the work piece so using holdfasts is not critical on this surface. I’m sure the time will come when a holdfast will save the day. When that happens, I’ll drill the hole. I have some ideas for a few simple accessories that will eliminate using bench hooks and instead turn the top into a bench hook of sorts with flip down saw fence and planing stops. Again, I want to spend some more time working on the top to see where it needs help first.

Benchcrafted Moxon Vise on the Joinery benchOne thing that needs no further consideration is the use of the Benchcrafted Moxon Vise on the front. This vise had me at hello, but when I integrated it into a fixed bench top set at the perfect height for my build, it is joinery nirvana. I made a few drawers for a commission I’m working on last night and my reasons for building this bench became very clear. No bending and the work was right up in my face so I could clearly see my layout lines. The Moxon is so smooth and strong that a quick spin of the wheels is all that is needed to lock the work piece in place. Switching pieces in and out is just as effortless. I can’t wait to do some wider case sides and really put the 26″ between screws to the test.

So I will call this build a success for now. I think any workbench is a work in progress that must be refined through work. The key is finding the right chassis or blank slate to start with to allow that refinement.


I covered the basics of this bench but if you want to learn more about it’s construction, (all done by hand) or want to learn more about building and designing the right bench for your work, then you might consider joining The Hand Tool School. The first half of Semester 3 will be dedicated to this topic with quite a few videos not only on this bench, but many alternative techniques all done by hand.

11 Responses to “Joinery Bench Completed”

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  1. Shawn Graham says:

    I’ve been thinking about my own, which needs to be done before the first of months faire. Have you ever seen someone do a tenon’d stretcher like that at an angle? I’ve been thinking that two tusked ones in back that are lapped in the middle so they form a cross would eliminate racking if you combined it with a simple straight one across in front on the side stretchers, as you did. That’d give three different angles of bracing. I’ve just never seen them done at angles.

    • Shannon says:

      I think I saw something like this are part of a timber framed building. Someone actually brought up this idea of an angled trestle at WIA. Honestly I built this design because I have yet to build a trestle anything and wanted to give it a try. I think it would be more than stable in most circumstances but because the 45″ height is is bit extreme some wiggle finds it’s way in.

  2. What a great reminder that benches are tools and should be built around our tasks and working habits. I was able to see the bench at WIA and love the height and overall size. Regarding the stablility, I wonder if you would see and improvement by simply lowering the existing stretcher. The “box” created by this would likely be stiffer, and the legs woud effectively be shortened.

    • Shannon says:

      I thought about this and a few mentioned it at WIA. My original purpose for placing the stretcher and trestle assembly at that height was to create a surface to rest a planing beam on that would be at the right 32-34″ height for planing (for me anyway). I do that that adding a stretcher across the back and lower down will create the same effect and a cool multi-level aesthetic.

  3. Jeroen says:

    Why not put a strut in the back? Then all your problems will be gone.

  4. Tim says:

    When you use a benchhook, do you simply hook it over the vise’s front chop? I’m thinking about building a small joinery bench and wondering how sawing over the vise would work…

    • Shannon says:

      Yes, I just but the hook right up against the front of the bench. Sometimes I actually secure it in the vise when I need the hook to be held steady. I will probably add a flip up sawing hook at some point too like the one Klausz has on his bench.

  5. Dan says:

    Can you tell me the finished dimensions of your joinery bench? Thank you, Dan

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