The good news is that you don’t need a lot of shelf space to house a comprehensive collection of basic woodworking knowledge. Get started with Understanding Wood. In this comprehensive bible, professor Bruce Hoadley delves into the nature of wood and how its structure affects strength, workability, and other characteristics. He then shines a light on fundamentals like drying, machining, bending, joining, sanding, gluing, often accompanied by stunning macro photographs that zoom you in to the meat of the matter.
There are simple jigs like a trammel baseplate and T-square, but you’ll also find a vacuum-clamping jig you can use to rout surfaces without clamps getting in the way, a dowel-making fixture, and router jigs to help you make fluted columns and even flamed finials. Bill also included several variations of router tables, including an ultimate table I built for my own shop.
Be careful. Single 24x60" sheets of 3/4" MDF are pretty easy to lift. A doubled sheet is manageable. The countertop - 24x72" panel of 1-1/2" oak - weighs something over 100 pounds. It takes real care to lift safely. The joined top - 3" thick of oak and MDF - is past the range that can be lifted safely by one person. Don't try. Get a friend to help, or rig a block-and-tackle.
By posting on this site and forum, the poster grants to Canadian Woodworking Magazine/Website the unrestricted rights to use of the content of the post for any purpose, including, but not limited to, publishing the posted material, including images, in print or electronic form in a future issue or issues of Canadian Woodworking magazine or related Canadian Woodworking products, and to use the post for promotional purposes without further compensation, as well as the right to use the poster's name in a credit along with the post.

Stop it. Really. I mean it. Pick a height between your thigh and waist that seems right. You’ll adapt. Don’t worry about your back. You’ll adapt. If you are really uncertain, make it a little taller and then cut down the legs. After a decade or so, your work habits will put a magic number in your head. You’ll have built enough furniture that you will know your number. Until then, pick a number.


For the router you'll need a a 3/8" straight bit, an edge guide, 1/4"- and 1/8"-radius roundover bits, and a flush-trim bit with at least a 1-1/2" cutting length. Bits of this size are available only for a 1/2" collet. Some routers are capable of using multiple collet sizes. I was fool enough to buy a router that only had a 1/4" collet. More on that, later.
You may even want to put yourself in the picture. If your workshop space already exists, find a large piece of cardboard, wallboard, or plywood that’s about the size of the workbench top you envision. Find a couple of stools or chairs, perhaps a few books, and turn them into stanchions to support the “benchtop.” Is it too big for the space? Is it large enough for the tasks you envision will be performed upon it?
Great advice. May I add #11?…if you’re left handed (like me), build a left handed bench. It sounds obvious, but when I made my bench, I had looked at all the pictures in my books, laid out plans for a nice, traditional bench, built it, then realized my front vise should have been on the other end (I have no tail vise). I plane from left to right, and the front vise is always in the way.
The decision to be made with respect to the end vise is whether the support plate should be mounted to on the inside or on the outside of the stretcher. Mounting the plate on the inside of the stretcher reduces the reach of the vise - it can't open as far, because the support plate is back from the edge by a couple of inches. But mounting the plate on the outside of the stretcher means that we need to add some support structure for the inner jaw of the vise, which the legs would have provided if we'd mounted the plate on the inside.

Having done all this, I'm not sure I'd do it this way again. It might well be faster to layout the positions with compass and straightedge directly onto the top. Either way, you'll want to use a scribe rather than a pencil. Scribe lines are hard to see, and impossible to photograph, but the scribe and compass points click into them, allowing a precision that pencils simply cannot match.


You are absolutely right on your advise. When I was agonizing over how to build a workbench my good friend turned me on to your book on workbenches. I was planning on having an overhang until I read your advise about building a workbench and not a table. So the entire front and rear surfaces; top, legs and bottom shelf are all in the same plane to clamp my work to. The addition of a sliding dead man was also something that I would have never thought of on my own. Thanks again for your advise.

After you have all the holes clean, set things up for your glue-up. You want everything on-hand before you start - drill, driver bit, glue, roller or whatever you're going to spread the glue with, and four clamps for the corners. You'll need a flat surface to do the glue-up on - I used my hollow core door on top my bench base - and another somewhat-flat surface to put the other panel on. My folding table was still holding my oak countertop, which makes a great flat surface, but I want to make sure I didn't drip glue on it so I covered it with some painters plastic that was left over from the last bedroom we painted.


1. Cabinet Making and Millwork by John L. Feirer. I read this book cover to cover when I first got into woodworking, and its still my number one reference book when researching a project or technique. I believe it was intended as a textbook for a high school shop class, so it's laid out in great 101 style. It includes descriptions of everything from how sandpaper is made to best practices for shop math, and provides details for both hand and power tools.
Woodworkers like books. Maybe it’s because they’re somehow still a wood product, but let’s face it, they travel into the shop well, offer great how-to instruction with pictures and words, and you can make notes in the margins if you like. Our fine woodworking books cover all the topics for which you’re looking: furniture plans; hand tool techniques; shop projects; wood finishing advice and much more.
“Introducing a new woodworking series in the tradition of Tage Frid…a series filled with essential information required by woodworkers today. For the first time ever, all the techniques and processes necessary to craft beautiful things from wood have been compiled into three comprehensive volumes: The Complete Illustrated Guides. Highly visual and written by woodworking’s finest craftsmen, these three titles — Furniture & Cabinet Construction, Shaping Wood, and Joinery — will establish a new standard for shop reference books.
Woodworker's Supply is the expert's source for woodworking tools and hardware. We have the latest table saws, band saws, scroll saws, mortisers, jointers and planers for you to choose from. Looking for name brand cordless power tools or electric routers, router bits, and router accessories? We have a huge selection available. We represent the most respected brands on the market like Powermatic, DeWalt, Freud, Woodtek and many more. From traditional hand tools to high-tech digital measuring devices, we have what you need for the most intricate woodworking projects at woodworker.com.
If you’re more interested in working with wood rather than machining it, you will be relieved to learn that expensive powered machinery isn’t required to build furniture. You can also forget the dust masks, face shields and hearing protection since many of the safety concerns related to woodworking—the use of power tools—are eliminated. In this book, you’ll learn to set up a hand-tool woodworking shop, then discover the toolset, practice the skillset, and understand the mindset—effectively completing a comprehensive course in hand-tool woodworking.
I wanted the left edge of the jaw of the front vise to be flush with the left edge of the top, the right edge with the left edge of the left front leg. So the amount of overhang on the left depends upon the width of the front vise jaw. The width of the jaw is, at a minimum, the width of the plate that supports it, but it's normal to make the jaw extend a bit beyond the plate. How far? The more it extends, the deeper a bite you can take with the edge of the vise, when, for example, you are clamping the side of a board being held vertically. But the more it extends, the less support it has. I decided to extend by 1-12", which gives me a 2-1/2" bite, and which should still provide solid support, given that the jaw is 1-1/2" thick. This means the top needs a left overhang of 12-1/4".
A better solution would have been to route a rabbet into the side, so that the added strip always had thickness. The way I did it means that the strip I glued in is very narrow, and hence very weak, at a certain point. In this case, that's not a problem, because it's going to be sitting under the countertop layer. I also noticed that because I had only clamped the strip down, and not into the edge, there was a noticeable glue gap where the strip butted up against the MDF. Again, in this application it isn't visible. But if I was doing something like this on the top of a table, I'd make sure to cut a clean rabbet, and to clamp both down and in.
The Complete Manual of Woodworking A comprehensive book that covers tons of woodworking topics: woodworking design, hand tools, power tools, workshops, wood carving, joinery, finishing wood. You will also learn a lot about this natural resource we call wood. Filled with great photos, diagrams, and illustrations. If you want to branch out and explore other woodworking endeavors, you will enjoy owning this book.
Whether you're new to woodworking or you've been doing it for years, Woodcraft's selection of woodworking projects is one the best places to find your next big project. Whether you're looking to make wooden furniture, pens, toys, jewelry boxes, or any other project in between, the avid woodworker is sure to find his or her next masterpiece here. Find hundreds of detailed woodworking plans with highly accurate illustrations, instructions, and dimensions. Be sure to check out our Make Something blog to learn expert insights and inspiration for your next woodworking project.
Tapping the knowledge of dozens of top-shelf woodworkers, Scott Landis’s The Workbench Book, and Jim Tolpin’s The Toolbox Book are filled with inspirational photos and drawings that you can use to enhance your workbench and tool storage needs. John White’s Care and Repair of Shop Machines completes the workshop triumvirate. The author’s straightforward advice for repairing and setting machinery will help you make the most of every machine in your shop.
In terms of size, this bench is another Sjobergs that is a bit on the small side, though it is actually far more squared than some others. While its length is a bit disappointing at 54″, the width is over 24″ wide which does provide for more diverse projects. Even better, this product still features the incredibly 500-pound weight capacity and continues the Sjobergs trend of avoiding joints that are not as durable as they otherwise could be.
×