Bench Upgrade and Maintenance

My shop time was limited this weekend.  There was grass to mow and several other household related things that needed doing.  Since I just completed a fairly large project, I’ve been making notes.  Some have to do with the construction of the HB Tansu and some are shop and tool notes.  What works, what doesn’t and what would make the process go a little smoother.

Two of these notes concerned my workbench.  I like my workbench.  It’s Paul Sellers’ design from his book, “Working Wood 1&2“.  It is my first “real” bench so I have nothing to compare it too, but I have not found it lacking, except.  From the outset, I’ve found that I wanted or needed a stop at the end of the bench.  Paul does almost everything in the vise and it obviously works for him.  I find that I don’t like working in the vise all the time.  Several operations I can complete quicker on the bench top with the workpiece butted up against a stop.  My solution, for well over a year now, was to simply screw a 1/4″ piece of scrap to the bench top.  This has worked well but gets in the way at times.  Then I have to unscrew and remove it.  Then reinstall again when I need it again.  Time for an upgrade.


Below the bench top and still clears the drawer.

I purchased a couple of 5/16″ lag studs plus washers and wing nuts.  I already had an off cut of 3/4″ birch ply set aside to use as a fence/stop.  The job was simple.  Cut two vertical slots in the plywood fence and install the lag studs in the end of the bench.  The slots were done by drilling two holes, saw out the waste between them and cleanup with a rasp. Now I have a stop that sits below the bench top when not needed and can be raised to any height, up to an inch, when required.  It’s very solid.  Done.


The other note concerned the chewed up edge of my bench top.  I do the vast majority of my sawing in the vise.  Cross cuts and rip cuts.  As a consequence the edge of my bench top gets a little ragged from the saw.  I didn’t worry about it too much, its ugly, but nothing else.  Lately though I’ve picked up a few splinters from this ragged area.  At first I thought that I would just smooth it up with a chisel and sandpaper, then Paul Sellers posted about how he had recently addressed the issue.  So I followed his example and inset a sacrificial piece.  Of course I already scarred it up, but it looks and feels much better.  Done.

This week I’ll be giving some TLC to all of my tools.  Planes will be dismantled, cleaned and oiled.  Blades, cutters, saws and chisels will be sharpened.  The shop will get a good cleaning up as well.  By next weekend I should be ready for the next project.

Greg Merritt

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11 Responses to Bench Upgrade and Maintenance

  1. orepass says:

    I like to take a week or so to transition from one project to another. Like you mention the tools get cleaned and sharpened the corners of the shop cleaned and mentally I prepare.

    • gman3555 says:

      Yep, its a good way to prepare for a fresh start. I might not make into the corners, but at least I’ll be able to see the floor again. 🙂 I remember it being painted gray.


  2. Randy Allen says:

    What’s your next project Greg?

    • gman3555 says:

      Hi Randy,

      I need to make some small boxes and the like to utilize the offcuts generated from the first HB Tansu. Christmas is coming and these will be gifted. The next big project is another tansu. Different layout with the introduction of an additional joinery detail.


  3. RonHarper says:

    Greg, i did this 20 years ago. You will love it

  4. BrianJ says:

    Handy design for your stop , I purchased the small bench top stops from lee valley, bit the bullet and drilled into the top. They are okay, slim for 1/4″ stock, but now I have two holes that get clogged with bits and shavings that have to vacuumed out to put the stop back in.( I know I could thru- drill) I too like to use the top for planing, etc. seems like you have come up with a very livable solution, and adjustable to boot.

    • gman3555 says:

      I have seen this solution employed by others. It’s quick, easy and out of the way when not needed. I may add an additional one at the back of the bench top that drops into the tool well. The Veritas stop looks to be a good option but has limits and, like you said, needs holes drilled into the bench top. The upside is that you could position it anywhere on the bench.


  5. davidos says:

    congratulations on finishing the tansu it looks great and i bet you learned a lot .i found it difficult at times to follow along .i am definitely a visual learner .that’s why i find wwmc great and Paul is an excellent you i build Paul’s bench almost two years ago but i am caught for space big time which i find very frustrating at times .i have seen that stop at the end of the bench but cant fix it at the moment as my bench is tight to a wall. . i poured a concrete slab this summer 13’x10′ nearly twice the size i have at the moment hopefully by next spring i will have my creative space . happy woodworking . Dave

    • gman3555 says:

      Hi David,

      Thanks! I know what it is to work in a small shop. Mine is just 7’x9′, the building is slightly larger but the rest is storage for the house. Sounds like your going to have a pretty good place to work soon.

      Which bits were hard to follow? Any feedback will be appreciated. I’m still trying to figure this whole thing out and have a lot to learn. I know I need to start taking photos during the process. I get focused on the work and forget to snap some pics.

      Take care,

      • davidos says:

        Hi Greg
        It wasn’t that your explanation of the build was hard to follow i just found it difficult to grasp the particular joinery till later on in the project when you posted photos and drawings of the tansu in near completion and i could get a clear visual .its just me my friend

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