Building a bench Part 2


The tool tray
To form the ends of the tool tray recess, I cut two lengths of 50 x 155mm beech at 45° on one end, and glued them to the rear of the bench-top. I then glued a 25 x 100mm plank of beech across these blocks to form the rear of the tool tray; two pieces of 20 x 10mm beech fitted under the top on either side of the recess provided a lip to support the trays 4mm MDF bottom.

The underside of the bench was now pre-finished with a couple of coats of linseed oil; once dry, the top was fitted to the trestles using eight 8mm coach screws driven through the upper cross-brace at either end. Believe it or not, flattening the bench top took just a couple of passes with a jointer plane. The top was then finished with five coats of boiled linseed oil, though for water-resistance Danish oil might've been better. The wooden jaw for the face vice was made from a piece of beech 50 x 155mm, with a routed recess in the back made using the vice itself as a template; this was simply secured using a couple of screws.

The tail vice
During the build I'd settled on a traditional tail vice for the right-hand end of the bench, and had ordered the hardware from Axminster for the princely sum of £12 plus postage.

The jaw runs in a guide that was made by routing a slot in an off-cut of beech, which was then screwed onto the face of the bench top recess. The jaw itself was roughly cut to shape from a 50mm-thick piece of beech and then fine-tuned using hand planes and chisels. The aim here was for a close sliding fit between the small tenon and the slot in the bench top as any play here will be exaggerated in the final vice. The remaining tail vice parts were cut from the remains of the 50mm beech, and joined at either end using dovetails of the same pattern used on the apron. Once assembled, I cut a slot in the vice face piece that sits under the bench top so that it could ride along a plywood guide piece. The vice hardware, meanwhile, was mounted by drilling a clearance hole in the rear of the vice and through the right-hand side of the apron.

The total cost of materials for this bench was under £200, including the two vices; the build time came to just 10 days. To buy a bench of comparable size might have cost anything from £800 to £1800, so I made a saving, and have a bench that I can really call my own. 


View part 1 of the build here