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Here was my main winter project in 1999. My new workbench.  I've learned so much from others who've posted information about their benches on the Web, that I feel I must return the favor to others who may be considering building a bench by posting some of my own experiences. Links on the left take you to areas with additional information. More detailed photos are available by clicking here.

We've all heard it before: "A good workbench really is the most important tool in the shop." For me, it's even more. My entire woodworking hobby started a little over two years ago with building a workbench as my very first project. Though I'm entirely self taught, I've learned a lot since then and look back and still consider it as the pivotal event that both motivated me and gave me the confidence to pursue the hobby seriously. Now that I just finished my second one, I can again say that building a bench is very a satisfying and educational experience and I highly recommend it.

Using a portable saw, a miter saw and a drill, I built Tom Caspar's featured bench in the October 96 Woodwork magazine article over the course of two weekends. And, what a great bench it is. Built entirely out of plywood and '2by' material, it is a flat, stable, functional, very inexpensive and even good-looking. It even has a easy to build end vise and square dogs. In fact, I can't recommend the design enough for anyone. Check it out.

But, the more serious I got about woodworking, the more I wanted a heavy maple bench in the traditional European style. Lots of examples of that out there. But, easily the hardest thing about building this workbench was the two years it took for me to agonize over what kind of design I wanted to build. I think I must have read every book and article on workbenches, and picked up every plan I could find. I waffled back and forth for the longest time between a grid-style modern round dog bench like the Veritas bench and a European style bench with square dogs.

There are plenty of good arguments favoring both designs. But, benches, like many things in woodworking, can be designed and built in all kinds of ways that ultimately work equally well. Even after analyzing my projects, tools and techniques it still wasn't easy to decide. The front vise question was the easiest-I mounted a Record 52 1/2 vise on my first bench and just loved it. I knew my new bench had to have a quick release metal vise. But, that still left a lot to decide on. In the end, the traditional style tail vise and strong square dogs were the deciding factors in determining the design. After that, all the other design decisions went very fast.