One aspect of the Windsor Design that is hit or miss is the vice. Notice we have to use the singular when describing it because this is the first workbench that we have reviewed which features only one vice. To make matters more frustrating, the vice cannot be repositioned along the bench. That said, the vice does at least have the largest capacity out of any we reviewed. At 7” capacity, the Windsor Design vice can secure any size workpiece you may have.
Whether you’re setting up a new shop or upgrading your old one, a good, sturdy workbench will almost surely be central to your plans. We can help. Our editors and contributors have produced more than two dozen articles and videos about benches and assembly tables. We’ve included everything from a simple but workable plywood bench to a classic hardwood bench complete with vises. You’ll also find full project plans, as well as tips for installing vises, making your bench portable, adding storage, and more. Some of our workbench plans are free, and the rest can be purchased in our store (check the links below).
4. Taunton's Complete Illustrated Guide To Finishing by Jeff Jewitt. This isn't the only book on the subject, but it's a great place to start. The real strength here is the bounty of color photos, which show exactly what's happening as you finalize your projects. It discusses finishing new projects, but also repairing old finishes and matching vintage pieces. It's not a "start here, end there" walk through, so you'll need to familiarize yourself with the way it's organized before beginning a project, but it is indeed a "complete illustrated guide" with encyclopedic-like thoroughness. Belongs in every library.
The jaw for the front vise needed to be 10" long - to span the distance from the leg to the end of the top, 1-1/2" thick - to allow for benchdog holes to be drilled in it, and 5" tall. The end vise was mounted 3/4" lower than the front vise, and the screw and guide rods were thicker, so its jaws needed to be at least 6-1/2" tall. Again, they needed to be 1-1/2" thick to allow for benchdog holes, and 23" long to span the width of the bench.
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.
As simple as its elements are, the workbench is more than a tabletop with legs, a well, and a few holes. Virtually everything in the workshop comes to rest on the bench at some point, even if only between operations at other stations. Planning and layout, cutting and shaping, assembling and finishing–all can be, and often are, performed on the benchtop. The better the design, and the better suited its size and configuration to your labors, the more efficient a tool it will be.
5. The Woodbook: The Complete Plates. This one contains no instructions, no techniques, and no how-to information. Rather, it's the most complete collection of American wood samples ever created. Assembled between between 1888 and 1913 by New Yorker Romeyn Beck Hough and originally published in fourteen volumes, Taschen's publication "reproduces, in painstaking facsimile, all of the specimen pages from the original volumes... For all trees, now arranged in alphabetical order, three different cross-section cuts of wood are represented (radial, horizontal, and tangential), demonstrating the particular characteristics of the grain and the wealth of colors and textures to be found among the many different wood types. Also included in this special edition are lithographs by Charles Sprague Sargent of the leaves and nuts of most trees, as well as texts describing the trees’ geographical origins and physical characteristics."
I’ve built workbenches with more than 100 students. In every class, there’s one guy who wants to put a vise on every corner of the bench. Not because it’s a partner’s bench for two people. Just because he wants it that way. While I support your freedom to choose, I also don’t want to spend two weeks installing complex tail-vise hardware on your bench when we could be building furniture instead.
The best way to use this article is to visually break the furniture piece down with reference to the categories listed. On a piece of paper, write down the main focus or core of the piece and place it beside the project. With a critical eye, question whether all the elements support the main goal. Ask why you have designed it this way. For example, if the main focus is to have a comfortable chair, you might want to consider which lines, texture or colours visually inspire people to think the chair is comfortable and stable even before they sit in it.
I really like this. I've been busy designing my own workbench to replace the ropey old thing I currently use. You've made me reconsider exactly what I need a bench for - I think I've been more than a little seduced by the idea of a beautiful hardwood bench when, if I'm honest, I don't need one. My cash would be better spend on timber for furniture projects that my family can enjoy rather than a wonderful workbench that I can only use on the weekends.
“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.
Another aspect that might irk some buyers is the fact that the capacity of this bench is less than great outside of weight. The top’s surface area is a bit on the smaller end, though its length is more in line with larger models. The width though is less than two feet which can limit some projects. Similarly, the vice capacity is the second smallest on our list at 4 ½”, though this too can be modded with optional additions.