21st Century Workbench Idea

Thanks to Bill Leonhardt from East Patchogue, New York for sending in this detail regarding his version of the 21st Century Workbench that features a Lake Erie Toolworks wooden vise screw instead of the original metal twin screw design. This is truly one amazing workbench.

Lake Erie Toolworks, Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Wood Vise, 21st Century Workbench
Lake Erie Toolworks, Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Wood Vise, 21st Century Workbench
Lake Erie Toolworks, Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Wood Vise, 21st Century Workbench
Lake Erie Toolworks, Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Wood Vise, 21st Century Workbench
Lake Erie Toolworks, Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Wood Vise, 21st Century Workbench
Lake Erie Toolworks, Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Wood Vise, 21st Century Workbench
Lake Erie Toolworks, Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Wood Vise, 21st Century Workbench

I was attracted, at first sight, to the 21st Century Workbench built by Robert Lang and featured in a Popular Woodworking magazine in 2008.  I finally got an opportunity to build this bench in the beginning of 2020 and, fortunately, procured all the materials just before the Covid pandemic hit.  It took me 4 to 5 months to complete and the final dimensions are 75” long (not counting end vise) x 30” wide x 34.5” high.  The top is 3” thick and the final weight is about 312 lbs.  The bench material is ash, and a nice feature is the fact that the top is in two halves and each half is narrow enough to fit through a normal 13-inch planer.  

One of the reasons I am attracted to this bench is the fact that the base uses both upper and lower stretchers, which means it does not use the top for support or to stiffen it.  That is important to me, because my use of the top is an evolving philosophy.  With an “independent” base, I can reconfigure the top in the future if I choose to and still maintain the stiffness and rigidity the base offers.

I deviated somewhat form the original bench design to better accommodate my space limitations and to incorporate a leg vise in place of the original twin screw. I also changed the method of connecting the long stretchers to the legs so that the bench could be broken down and transported more easily.  I opted for a leg vise with wood screw in place of the double screw vise and I used a quick release vise I had on hand for the end vise.

In building the leg vise, I used a precision shaft and linear bearing in place of the traditional multi-hole plate at the bottom of a typical leg vise which eliminates the need to shift the spacing pin for different material thicknesses.  I chose a Lake Erie wood screw because it has a much coarser thread (than a metal screw) which means less turns for the vise travel.  The combination of the precision shaft and wood screw makes for an exceptionally smooth operating vise.

In applying finish to the bench, I wanted to protect the wood, but, at the same time, I wanted to not have a slippery surface for working.  In the end, I chose to use two wiped-on coats of the following mixture:  1/3 mineral spirits + 1/3 polyurethane + 1/3 boiled linseed oil.  I am pleased with the way this turned out as I got the desired surface.

Note that the tool trays can be reversed to make one continuous top or removed to make clamping on one of the top halves easier.  Additionally, I can saw wood that is held in the end vise “right-handed”. Never had this before since a typical face vise is at the left end of the bench. At this point, I am very happy with the current configuration and I anticipate no changes.  I do however, like the fact that I can easily reconfigure the top in the future if I change my mind.

Lake Erie Toolworks Workbench Idea – March 2021

Our latest Workbench Idea was sent in by Matt Miller from Clear Lake, Iowa who has one of the greatest workbench and workshop setups that we have ever seen.  Matt’s father and grandfather taught him the woodworking craft well and assisted by his wife and son, Matt crafted the workbench and shop of a lifetime.  His massive walnut 2X wooden twin screw vise is also the cherry on top to finish up this functional woodworking paradise.

Lake Erie Toolworks, Twin Screw Vise, Wood Vise, Wooden Vise, Workbench
Lake Erie Toolworks, Twin Screw Vise, Wood Vise, Wooden Vise, Workbench
Lake Erie Toolworks, Twin Screw Vise, Wood Vise, Wooden Vise, Workbench
Lake Erie Toolworks, Twin Screw Vise, Wood Vise, Wooden Vise, Workbench
Lake Erie Toolworks, Wood Vise

I started woodworking when I was just a kiddo. My Grandfather and Father owned a hardware store where I learned about good tools, cut glass, electrical and plumbing. What an education! I worked in the hardware store until I was 28 and went to work as a sales manager for a baking company for the next 34 years, retiring 4 years ago.

My Grandfather made all his own furniture in his house and I was always amazed how well he made his projects with very minimal hand and power tools. I inherited a lot of my woodworking tools and knowledge from my Grandfather and my Father. 

The Cadillac walnut twin screw vise is 8″ x 36″.  It is held together with the two biggest screws that Lake Erie Toolworks makes (2X wood vise premium kits). You guys make our projects look and work great!

My Workbench I built with my wife and son in 2005. It took us 3 years to build. It is built from quarter sawn white oak with some red oak and walnut as accents. Over 8 feet long with a double row of bench dogs along with the Emmert patternmakers vise are a joy to use. The two Record bench screws and the Record vise make woodworking simple and easy. 

I have totally restored all my Delta woodworking power tools and use them daily.

My woodworking shop is truly heaven on earth. I am always busy and my children and grandchildren will pull up a stool to the workbench where we tell stories and share a beverage. It is the place to sit and many a story has been told and embellished at this bench.

Sincerely, Matt Miller – Clear Lake, Iowa

You built that workbench? It’s simply amazing!

Our good friends at the Woodsmith Shop have now recorded a television episode in which they have built an English style workbench (A New Old Workbench) that is either available via your local PBS channel or is also for purchase online from their Woodsmithshop.com website.

Since a sturdy workbench should be among the first tools in your woodworking toolkit, this specific workbench video and plan set will provide you with the core information needed to make this bench a reality in your workshop.

Just remember, there’s nothing quite like crafting your own workbench, and when a friend or family member asks if “You built that workbench”? Followed up with “It’s simply amazing”! There’s nothing quite like that pride of accomplishment that you will surely feel.

Happy Woodworking from Lake Erie Toolworks

Here’s Our January 2020 – Lake Erie Toolworks Workbench Idea!

Our latest Workbench Idea comes from Quentin W. who has built a tremendous English Style “Nicholson” Workbench featuring a face vise. The entire bench is also made out of cherry and she’s a beauty!.  Enjoy.

Lake Erie Toolworks, Nicholson Workbench, Wood Vise, Face Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks, Nicholson Workbench, Wood Vise, Face Vise

Primary construction of my modified Nicholson “English” bench is complete.  I still need to add holes in top and skirt.  I am waiting for arrival of holdfasts from blacksmith before drilling to assure proper fit.

The bench is constructed entirely from 8/4 cherry, glued up into 16/4 stock for legs and vise.  The top is flush with skirt in front, overhanging in the rear so that I have option of clamping a work light for detail work.

The vise jaw is a massive 4x12x24 inches, with a 3×3 walnut glide parallel to the screw to avoid racking.  Even with this weight, the Lake Erie vise is smooth acting.

The cherry had a number of imperfections that made it is less than ideal for a serious furniture project, but with a butterfly inlay securing a split on the rear skirt and a couple of dutchmen laid into the top, it is flat, solid, and good to go.

I am not sure of weight, but it definitely does not move no matter how hard I push.  For an 18th-century inspired bench designed for hand work, there is something very special about a wooden screw.

The heft and precision threads of the Lake Erie screw were an ideal match to this period style bench.

Quentin W. – Greenwich, NJ

Where’s the Beef? It’s alive, well and living in Wadsworth, Ohio

Many of you no doubt remember the famous words “Where’s the Beef”?   Well in this instance, the beef refers to one of the most massive Roubo workbenches that I’ve seen in a very long time.  It also happens to be our March 2019 Workbench Idea submitted to us by Jerry (Chip) E. who lives in Wadsworth, Ohio.

Chip built one of the largest Roubo workbenches there is (a.k.a. “the beef”) and then fit it with a great leg vise powered by one of our premium wooden vise screw kits.  We know you’ll enjoy our latest customer provided Workbench Idea so here you go.

(Note: For those of you who may not be aware of our “Workbench Ideas” feature – previously known as “Workbench of the Month”, this feature is also alive, well and living on our Lake Erie Toolworks website under the “Workbench” main menu option.  We also have almost 90 workbenches for you to take a look out as well if you are looking for inspiration to craft your masterpiece.)

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

I built my Roubo using 8 ft long 6 X 6 timbers (untreated) for the top, and the legs, that I bought at Home Depot. The bench is 8 ft long, 27 1/2 inches wide, and 34 1/2 inches tall.

I glued the timbers together using wood glue and 1/2-inch dowel rods. I used a router sled to level out the top. The timbers were fairly straight, so at most I removed 1/8th of an inch-high spot.

I cut the large dovetails mostly by hand, using Japanese pull saws, finishing them off with power tools.  They came out pretty good, however I did have to use some wedges to tighten everything up. As I said, the timbers were pretty straight, however the ends were rough.

On the left side of the bench, I removed 3/4 of an inch from the top, about 6 inches in and added a piece of Padauk. I also added a piece of 3/4 inch plywood on the end, under the Padauk, to cover up the roughness.

Similarly, on the right side, I removed 3/4 inch from the top, and also added 3/4 plywood on the top and a piece of 1 X 6 pine on the outside. this side is where I added the first vise. The first vise is an Eclipse 10 1/2-inch woodworkers’ vise.  I mortised under the bench about 1 1/4 inch deep. I wanted the top of the vise closer to the top of the workbench.  This vise is about 1/4 of an inch from the top of the bench. I used 3/4-inch plywood for the cheeks.  I also used thru bolts and nuts. It is rock solid.

The second vise is a Leg Vise. This vise is made from a 1-inch piece of curly maple, glued to a 2 X 10.  It is 8 inches across, 32 1/2 inches tall, and 2 3/8 inches thick.  I used the Premium Wood Screw kit from Lake Erie Toolworks, in conjunction with a Benchcrafted criss-cross.

The wood nut, was mortised about an inch into the back of the leg. I added leather to the insides to protect the work pieces.  The sliding deadman is made the same way, 1-inch curly maple, glued to a 2 x 10. It is 7 1/2 inches wide, 17 1/2 inches tall, and 2 3/8 inches thick.  The stringers are 2 X 6s, I mortised 3/4 of an inch in the bench leg, and in the stringer, used wood glue and 2 3/4 wood screws to attach them.  I then added 2 X 2s on the inside of the stringers, and added tongue and groove as the bottom platform.  I used a router to cut a 3/4 wide by 3/8 deep channel for T-Track. I went all the way across the top in both directions. I’m using Rockler T-track, and accessories. I also added a self-sticking tape measure across the front left of the bench.

As for the finish, the Leg Vise, Sliding Deadman, and top of the Bench, I used 3 coats of Amber Shellac, one coat of Danish oil, and the 3 coats of lacquer.  I wanted a hard surface for the top of my workbench.  The rest of the bench has one coat of pre-stain conditioner, one coat of Golden Oak stain, and 3 coats of lacquer.

Jerry (Chip) L. E. – Wadsworth, Ohio – USA

Wooden Vise Highlights Video, Check It Out!

Just posted a quick Lake Erie Toolworks Wooden Vise Highlights video on our website home page.  If you have a minute to spare take a look / see.  I suspect you might even like the ‘bluesy’ music the video is cut with.  Enjoy!

Lake Erie Toolworks, Wooden Vise, Wood Vise, Vise, Vice, Moxon Vise, Leg Vise, Wagon Vise, Shoulder Vise

Workshop Review of the Lake Erie Moxon

For those of you who may have been contemplating a Moxon Vise in your woodworking tool future, you may want to take a look at this before you make your final choice.

Courtesy of Brian McCauley and Brandon Marshall from “Workshop Review” they’ve put our Lake Erie Toolworks Moxon and Moxon Lite Vises through the proverbial squeeze.  We encourage you to take a look to see how we made out.  Enjoy!

Lake Erie Toolworks, Moxon Vise, Wood Vise

Enjoy this Moravian Workbench Rocky Mountain Beauty – July 2018

Will Myers has clearly helped pave the way to assist many woodworkers around the globe who have interest in the Moravian Workbench style to achieve their vision.  Our latest Lake Erie Toolworks Workbench Idea for July 2018 exemplifies this fact spot on.

Thank you to Gerry F. from Boulder, Colorado who built this Rocky Mountain Workbench Beauty from a Douglas Fir tree that came down during a Spring blizzard last year.  For a self-professed amateur woodworker, he did quite the amazing job.

Lake Erie Toolworks, Moravian Workbench, Wood Vise, Wooden Vise, Leg Vise, Leg Vice, Wood Vice, Wooden Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks, Moravian Workbench, Wood Vise, Wooden Vise, Leg Vise, Leg Vice, Wood Vice, Wooden Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks, Moravian Workbench, Wood Vise, Wooden Vise, Leg Vise, Leg Vice, Wood Vice, Wooden Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks, Moravian Workbench, Wood Vise, Wooden Vise, Leg Vise, Leg Vice, Wood Vice, Wooden Vise

The DougFir tree came down last May during a Spring blizzard. It was too big for me to haul to the mill and would have been wasteful to buck up for firewood. So while browsing for project ideas I came across your site highlighting Will Myers reproduction of the Moravian Workbench and knew that I’d found the perfect match for the log.

I milled the log with a chainsaw mill to the dimensions from Will’s PDF cut list and set it in the barn to dry. The tool chest was something I added to complement the gorgeous vise screw crafted by Nick at Lake Erie Toolworks.

I am an amateur and was happy to learn and apply a few new tricks along the way. It is one of the reasons why I love woodworking. The project took me a month to complete and am pleased with the final result.

Gerry F. – Boulder, Colorado – USA

Here’s Another Great Workbench Idea – May 2018

Our latest Lake Erie Toolworks Worbench Idea comes to us from Michael H. who hails from the town of Westford in the Green Mountain State of Vermont.  Michael has built a multi-functional dream of a workbench that serves as a workbench, router table, saw out-feed table, layout, assembly and edge joining table. Now try saying that again three times real fast.  She’s a beauty and we know you’ll all appreciate this latest Workbench Idea.

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Leg Vice, Wood Vise, Wood Vice, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Leg Vice, Wood Vise, Wood Vice, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Leg Vice, Wood Vise, Wood Vice, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Leg Vice, Wood Vise, Wood Vice, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Leg Vice, Wood Vise, Wood Vice, Vise, Vice

This project started with the purchase of a new SawStop Table saw and when I discovered my very old outfeed table was the wrong height and the miter guides were the wrong width.  I wanted something much sturdier than my old table; I wanted to make better use of the space beneath the table (cabinet to follow), and I wanted a leg vice to compliment the shoulder and end vice on my 35+ year old (and also needing to be replaced) workbench.

A lot of my work is frame and panel so I am often ripping rails & stiles and wanting to re-joint between passes on the table saw.  I reasoned that I could throw a board into a leg vice and run a jack plane over it faster than I could go to the dust collector, open and close blast gates, go to the jointer, run the piece and then retrace my steps.

So, I thought, while I’m at it why not build in a new, more versatile, better dust collecting router set up.  So now I have this bench – an outfeed table, an assembly table, and edge jointing table, and super-duper router set-up. The design started with the Benchcraftted Classic bench design.  I made it 4” wider, spread the legs to accommodate the router and eventual storage cabinet.  Then I added a bridge piece between the bench and the saw to span across the bottom dust collection hose and give myself 48” behind the saw blade.

The bench is made almost entirely from 8/4 poplar.  After I got the top together I discovered I had managed to turn the thing around and had framed in the router opening on the wrong end (mistake #1), so I ripped it apart and re-glued it, but in my haste lost control of the process and had no way to flatten it (mistake #2) so I ripped it apart and re-glued it, again.  Three times a charm, except then it wasn’t as wide as I wanted and I was out of poplar.  I found a piece of cherry that had been living in my shop for a long, long time and it became eye candy trim.  The bench plans called for cutting the mortises in the top and then fitting the base to it.   This required getting all 12 mortise & tenon joints in three dimensions all to come together at once.  I was amazed when it happened!  In a do over I’d build the base and then transfer markings to the top.  I also took the directions to make the holes in the leg & chop 2 9/16″ too literally.  This left only 1/32” of clearance on the radius and made the installation quite demanding.  In a do over I’d go to 2 3/4.  I haven’t yet figured out where I want the holes in the deadman, so haven’t drilled them.

Unlike a “real” work bench I wanted this to be slippery, so I finished it with three coats of good tung oil and then waxed it.  I only leather lined the chop, not the leg.  The casters are from Woodcraft and settle onto a firm base. They provide leveling and easily screw up to a wheel when movement is necessary.

Thanks for reading.  Michael H. – Westford, VT