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My Personal Guide to Building the Ultimate Woodworking Workbench

John Malecki

My Personal Guide to Building the Ultimate Woodworking Workbench

John Malecki Builds a Woodworking Workbench Featuring Geared Vices

Tips & Tricks
min read
Jun 26, 2020

A little over two years ago, a local developer who had just finished dropping some huge oak trees in their yard contacted me about milling up some slabs. So I packed up my Alaskan Chainsaw Mill and hauled myself over there immediately. Once I collected my new red oak slabs, I decided to make an awesome new bench. 

For my latest instructional post, I decided to revisit this old project and make a new woodworking workbench for myself. Follow me as I re-trace my footsteps from years ago and tackle this awesome project again. 

If you are trying this at home, make sure you check out my video of the step-by-step instructions below. If you want to learn more of the nitty-gritty details of building this insane bench, check out my digital workbench plan now. 

Included in my comprehensive plan are:

- 19 Page PDF with detailed drawings 

- Parts & Cut List 

- Detailed joinery diagrams & measurements


The Ultimate Woodworking Workbench with Geared Vices: Project Overview

Learn the Basic Steps Behind Making a Woodworking Workbench

man in blue plaid sawing through wood
  1. Roughsaw the tree into reusable lumber
  2. Glue up the top and legs
  3. Lay out the legs
  4. Hammer the base together and make a dovetail
  5. Cut the mortises into the legs
  6. Hammer the pieces together
  7. Put in the geared vices
  8. Cut joints for the bottom 

What You’ll Need



  • Red Oak wood
  • Timber frame joinery
  • Tape
  • Marker
  • Glue

Ultimate Woodworking Workbench with Geared Vices: The Step-by-Step

Rough Saw the Tree Into Usable Lumber

roughsaw machine

Let’s start by taking these huge slabs of Red Oak and rough sawing them down into some usable lumber. Once you are finished sawing the Red Oak into slabs, you will need to skip plane, or smooth it out, so you can get it into the shop and start your project. If you are starting from dimensioned lumber you can skip this step. 

Glue Up the Top and Legs

person clamping pieces of wood together

Next, you need to glue up both the top and the legs. Leave these long so you can cut to final dimensions later. Once the glue dries, start by jointing one face, and dimensioning the legs first. 

Lay out the leg joinery

person using woodworking tools

Start by laying out the legs on your bench all together at the same time. Layout is always easier in bulk. Then, you’re going to cut them out with a basic drill mate. If you’re feeling a little brave, you can try some freehand routing on these mortises. But I wouldn’t recommend trying this technique out if you aren’t 100% confident in your skills for this. 

Hammer the base together and make a dovetail

wooden table

Make a mock-up of your bench using the base you just created. As you can see, it’s going to be pretty big. The next thing you need to do before putting your mortises in the legs is to make a cap for the end that will hold the vice. For my build, I used large dovetails in a half blind method. 

Cut the mortises into the legs

person drilling into a piece of wood

Once you are finished making the cap, you can finally cut those mortises into the woodworking bench. You might need a stepstool or an extra box to raise you above the legs to give you some leverage while you work. 

Hammer the pieces together

man hammering pieces of wood together

Once the mortises are in, you can use a drawbore technique to pull the base assembly together. After you are done, go ahead and add some color to the base of your bench. I spray painted my base black. 

Put in the geared vices

A machine

Next up, you’re going to put geared two vices into this bench. I got mine from the awesome Andy Klein for this build. 

Add the bottom shelf 

A man preparing wood

For the final step, you grab some slats that you can cut rabbeted grooves into. These slates are going to be placed at the base of the bench to make a shelf. This part isnt necessary, but is a nice addition.  To finish off my bench, I used some of Andy Klein’s bench dogs tools to make some pop up dogs for my vices, and cut ¾” dog holes in my bench top.

Thanks for checking out my latest build! For a complete and thorough look into how I built this insane woodworking bench, remember to download my full Hand Tool Workbench plan now.  

Hand Tool Workbench Digital Plan 

This Hand Tool Workbench is my take on a basic timber frame style woodworking bench. This design is very versatile for each specific woodworker’s needs and is highly customizable. 

The size of this specific bench is 7' L x 24" W x 39" T. The height is custom to my own personal work height, and is easily adaptable to any woodworker. The bench is constructed using mortise and tenon joinery with draw bore pegs. This allows for an extremely strong bench, using basic woodworking techniques.

If you enjoyed it, check out some of my other projects:

Drill Charging Station

Download the Plan

Want to try this build out for yourself? Download the digital plan now for step-by-step instructions, measurements, and a detailed look at how to punch this project in the face.

Tips & Tricks
min read
Jun 26, 2020
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John Malecki

I used to be an offensive lineman in the NFL, Now I run my own furniture business and am completely self taught. In my videos and posts you'll see a variety of wood and metal work as well as some tips and tricks. Enjoy!