Request for Comments (RFC) Hive Woodworking Bench

I’d like to build a woodworking bench, loosely based on the Roubo split top bench. At this point I’ve got a rough idea of what would be involved, but I wanted to gauge the interest at the hive, and determine if this was something that was generally interesting, or just something I wanted. If there’s enough interest, I’ll draw up some more formal plans, make a selection of wood and vises, and present a budget for voting on. Upon completion the bench would become the property of the hive to work on, dance on, or set on fire as the mood strikes. :wink:

The biggest difference between what we currently have at the Hive and what I’d like to do is clamping options. We currently have a single metal vise which isn’t idea of wood working, and only supports smaller pieces. A woodworking bench would offer a variety of clamping options including hold fasts, bench dogs, and a variety of vises to hold the work. Further it would be much heavier than the current assembly table, making it more ideal for using hand planes and other hand tools.

I’d like the place it in the location currently occupied by the plywood assembly table, with that table moving to another location in the hive.

My plans are as follows:

A roughly 3’x8’x4" split top. The split top would be a laminate of 2x4 boards. There would be a split running down the center that would be removable to allow clamps to be used in the center, but would feature a simple slot tool holder. The split top could also be levered up to work as a holdfast. The legs would be 4x6, tenoned into the top, and flush with at least one side for the installation of a leg clamp. The would be a set of rails on the bottom, to support a basic plywood shelf. Half the shelf space would be taken up by the JET air filter. A future project could add some basic cabinets or these could be purchased.

I’m thinking the material would be southern yellow pine. I like southern yellow pine for this because it’s cheap, and relatively available. I expect this table to be used and abused. It’s possible to make this out of a sturdier hardwood, but I don’t think that will take the abuse much better. It’s also possible to add a 1" hard wood top if the Hive feels this is a good use of resources.

Making it out of a hardwood would probably double or triple the cost, which I don’t feel is worth the expense.

These tend to be areas where you can spend as much or as little as you want. I’ve got some idea of what I’d like to do, but I’m open to other opinions and suggestions.

I’d like to install 3 vises:
A leg vise and a sliding dead man - supports long boards, and large pieces on end. This would be installed into one of the legs, using that leg as the other side of the clamp.
~$30 for the hardware to make the screw

Quick Release Front Vise:
Holds work and integrates into a series of bench dog holes cut across the 3’ width.
~$20-150 depending on selection

A larger tail vise:
Would integrate into a series of bench dog holes cut length wise across the 8’ length.
This could be bought, or made from pipe clamps.

All the clamps would be faced with maple on both sides.

Iron Hold Fasts: These essentially hammer into the table to hold down the work
~$15-30 per hold fast, probably want 3-4.

Bench dogs: Essentially a stop put into a hole in the table to hold a long piece of wood in a vise.

Boiled Linseed Oil, something simple to allow glue to be scrapped off more easily, and coffee/soda mopped off. I don’t think anything short of 1" of epoxy would stand up to the use and abuse.

Time table:
I estimate this could be a pretty large project, taking a month or two to complete.

Sounds awesome!

Get the cost estimate together and present it at the meeting. (Give yourself a little leeway)
If approved, keep the receipts and get reimbursed. :grinning:


YES!!! This is amazing. I’ve been wanting to do this for such a long time, but it was too daunting a project for me to want to attempt on my own. I’m pretty busy for the next month or two, but I’d like to help with this when I’m able.

Personally, I would say let’s keep the cost down for now, and maybe upgrade things in the future. It’s a hard balance at the Hive. Sometimes it’s more important to get a project done first and see how it’s used, than to go all out at the beginning. We’ve also been spending a fair amount of money every month (a few votes for $100 dollars each month adds up quickly. To be clear, I am not saying we should stop spending money to improve/get better tools/replace things, etc. We just need to monitor this, like we do our large purchases.

As two side notes: A great option for “smaller” projects at the hive is to try to get members to pitch in some money to help a project that is specialized along. This is a long-standing tradition at the hive that’s been a bit forgotten in the last year or so. I’d personally be willing to throw in some for this project, a light/photo box, a paint booth, etc. So it’s always a great idea to ask that first, because $5 or $10 from some interested members can go a long way :slight_smile: And secondly, I’d like to start doing monthly expenditure reports, for how much we are spending each month (not just a bank balance), to keep things in perspective.


Yes! sounds amazing! i’d love to help in some way. Not sure my skills are up to par, but tell me how to help and i will do it!

This sounds good!

If I understand correctly, you have a trough down the middle, with a bin than can be removed to allow clamps to pass through the center of the bench top.

If this is so, why not put 2 vises, one on the each end of the bench, on opposite corners.
Skip the front vise. Since the bench is going to be accessible from all 4 sides, these end (tail) vises will be usable like front vises.
This would also allow two people to use the separate halves of the top independently of each other.

I like the leg vise/sliding dead man.

Also, why not just use 3/4" dowel cut to length for the dogs. Cheaper to make, cheap to replace, won’t damage any blades that contact them!


Okay, cool, sounds like there’s some interest. I wasn’t sure, since it appears the present table has been in place for some time, and it wasn’t clear the reason.

As for offers of help, they’re much appreciated. I think the big thing is going to be moving this, and it’s pieces around. I’ve seen estimates of ~300-500 pounds once completed. Add on the JET filter and you’ve got a real behemoth. I’ll also definitely need help moving the old table out. I also might need some help with a lumber run. I can get a lot of stuff in my car, but this might be a bit much.

@Elly - FWIW, I’m attempting to do the budget version, while seeing if there’s interest in some of the nicer stuff. (I’d prefer to do it once, the right way) Generally I’ve seen these done online and they’ve got $1000-2000 worth of hardwood + 2-3x $300 dollar clamps, and I think we can come in WAY under that, and not scrimp on functionality.

I think we can definitely do this in stages to some extend, but some things needs to be done as part of original build:

  1. Choice of materials can’t be undone. I haven’t heard anybody pushing for anything other than southern yellow pine, so this is a huge savings.
  2. Need at least one set of clamps, which gets pricey. I think we’re easily going to spend as much or more on the hardware than the wood. Further it’s hard to uninstall, then re-install a new set of clamps because you end up adding a lot of screw holes, which weakens the wood. It also depends on how the clamps interact with the legs, they might require holes to be drilled through the legs. Once that happens seems like we should stick with that clamp. OTOH it might be possible to have the legs far enough in to not interfere with the clamps. I’ll see what I can do about modularity in the design.

Places where we can cut corners:

  1. Generally the fancy woodworking places have leg clamp hardware for ~$200-400 for just the hardware. I think we can do something similar with a scaffolding screw for $25 + lumber.
  2. Cheap generic clamps. Probably go with a couple of pipe clamps ($40) for the tail vise rather than the Veritas twin screw clamp ($300).
  3. No tool storage cabinet/shelves. Seems like a easy thing to install later, on top of the leg braces.
    Maybe we could hold off on the hold downs? They’re a bit on the pricey side, at $15 per hold down, and I haven’t found any cheap alternatives. OTOH they seem pretty indestructible, and unlikely to walk off.

I’ll have to draw up some formal plans to determine the lumber/cut list will look like. Probably a hand drafting drawing. It might be nice if somebody took my chicken scratches and converted them to a sketch up drawing. Failing that I can just scan the drawings.

I’ll also see if I can install the pipe clamp tale vise prototype on the current assembly table just to see how well/poorly it works before committing to it.

Clamps through the middle would be of the generic free hand sort. Allowing the middle to be removed would put them perpendicular to the surface, not parallel like the tail/front release vise.

As for skipping the front vise, the quick release on it makes it more usable than the tail vise, if we go the pipe clamp route. If we don’t it gets seriously expensive very quickly. You are correct we could probably add another couple of clamps, and double up on the ability to share the table. OTOH vises and other hardware quickly get expensive.

You’re also right about the bench dogs. I’ve seen a couple of nice designs with bullets in the side to hold them in place. OTOH, I don’t think $7-10 for the plastic ones is all that bad either. Seems like a time v money trade off. The aluminum ones at $25 for two seems close to a luxury purchase. Not sure who buys these.


If you’re really into the price/performance thing, here’s a reference to making bench vises by using pipe clamps.

I have also seen a design for a bench that uses pipe clamps for a tail vise and for a (bench length) leg vise.


Thanks, that’s what I was trying to explain for the tail vise. I guess the links weren’t as clear as yours. Much better reference.

I’d love it - benches are useful- especially those with clamps and dogs.

Bump. This is the original RFC for the woodworking bench. It appears that some people in the meeting tonight had not seen this thread.