Solid Red Oak Workbench

Quite naturally, the first thing to be built in the new shop-to-be was a suitable workbench. I wanted to have a solid hardwood top and supporting structure and the cheapest local hardwood, at least of the strong variety, is red oak. This made it the default material. The top, legs, aprons, and stretchers are built of this material while the storage box underneath is made of red oak veneer ¾-inch plywood. Hardware on the doors is of the "European" variety.

Building the laminated top was the only seriously difficult part of the process. Preparation of so many strips of oak by ripping, jointing, and planing is quite time consuming. The top was glued up in three sections so that I could joint and plane in manageable pieces. The prepared sections where then glued together into a solid top that would require only minimal sanding. That was the theory anyway. In actuality the glued-up top was not perfectly flat due to a misadjustment of the jointer and had a 1/8" dish in the middle. Fixing this required that I rip the top into two sections, re-joint, re-plane, and re-glue. Ripping the top which weighed in excess of 180-pounds (80+kg) was quite a back breaking experience but the results were good so it was worthwhile. Overall size in inches: 72X24X34. The top is approximately 3-inches thick. Legs are 3-½ square and the stretchers and aprons are about 2-inches thick. Structural joinery is with thick pegged mortise and tenon joints. For lack of other ideas, the finish is a poly+stain product.

Eventually there will be an end-vise at the right along with holes for bench dogs. These were left off of the original since I don't do a lot of Neanderthal woodworking (exclusively with hand tools) right now and this is the main reason for having such vises and clamping arrangements.

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