After preparing the woodshop space, I needed to build a woodworking bench. The important feature about the bench I wanted was portability. Many of the plans I saw online were for beautiful benches that would never move from the place where they were built. You want a sturdy bench, and in most cases sturdiness comes with weight. Luckily, I found a bench that had the characteristics I was looking for: sturdy, movable, practical, and beautiful. The bench I made is called a Moravian bench. This is a style of woodworking bench from North Carolina, and I followed the instruction of Will Myers’ DVD “Building the Portable Moravian Workbench with Will Myers” (you can get a copy of the DVD from multiple websites, I got mine from Woodandshop.com).
I wanted to try to keep the cost of the bench as low as possible without compromising on durability. I also had limited options in terms of where to buy lumber. So I ended up using 2 x 4,s 2 x 10s and 4 x 4s from Home Depot. The bench is heavy as a unit, but most parts assemble without glue so it can be taken apart if needed. The parts are: 2 legs, 2 stretchers, 4 wedges, 1 top, 1 tray, 1 wooden vice, and 1 vice chop. For the top I laminated 9 2 x 4s, which was probably the most tedious part of the build but the most satisfying to see once finished: straight, flat, soft, and solid.
As a new woodworker, building the bench was the perfect exercise to learn and practice making joints, using handplanes, working with chisels , and marking and measuring properly. That being said, I made mistakes and if I were to build the bench again I am sure it would be markedly better. Regardless of the minor issues my bench may have (mainly aesthetics), the thing is good looking and makes working much easier. This workbench is not just a top supported by 4 legs (as Leslie originally pictured every time I mentioned it), it is another woodworking tool that will (hopefully) allow me to improve my skills as I continue to complete projects.
I would recommend this DVD and building this bench to anyone interested in owning a classic woodworking bench. It is a big challenge, but once finished you step back to look at it and the possible projects flood your brain!I only used a power drill to dig holes for bench dogs and for the wooden vice. Everything else was done using hand tools. I will be sharing the tools that I used to build the bench in a future post – check back soon!
4 responses to “My Moravian Workbench”
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Great job…it looks terrific! I plan on building this bench as well.
Thank you for posting this project. The bench looks amazing! You did a great job. Other than the dimensions of the lumber did you stick to Will Meyers’ overall dimensions?
I am in a similar situation as far as material purchases. Like you, I will have to use Home Depot lumber. It looks like you used 4×4’s for the legs and the long stretchers. Is that correct? What are your thoughts? Would you do it again?
It also looks like you used Home Depot lumber (Doug. Fir?) for the short stretchers. 2×4’s? Again your thoughts and any advice will be appreciated.
Finally, are those Gramercy Tools holdfasts in the pictures?
All the best,
I did my best to keep the dimension used in the dvd. I may have some 1/2 inch difference here and there. I did use 4 x 4 for the legs. For the long stretchers I glued up two 2 x 4s. And the holdfasts I found on Etsy (a local blacksmith). I think I would do the project again and probably could do a better job – a little bit of experience goes a long way. I believe the carriage vice at the end of the table is key to have and I tend to use it way more than the vice on the front of the bench. I don’t see the need to use expensive wood on a tool that is going to get banged up. I try to be careful with my work, but I don’t want to have to change the way I work to avoid scratching the bench.
Good luck with your bench. Keep me posted and I’m happy to answer questions!