Many years ago, my bride bought me my first Lie-Nielsen plane, and after months of frustration trying to clamp boards to the old bench I had, this sparked the desire to build a bench with hold-down vises. Every time I work at it now, I am reminded that it should have been the first tool I added to the shop!
The bench in the new shop sits at the front of the shop instead of the rear as it was in my last shop. The Wood Whisper is, once again, the originator of this idea. Since I work with the garage door open, I now have natural light bathing the top of my bench. And since the door is a north-facing opening, I am never blinded by sunrises or sunsets!
The bench in this position also affords great infeed support for long stock and sheet goods.
This bench is essentially the Heavy-duty workbench from Shopnotes issue 65. I modified my bench in several ways. First, the top is 31¾ X 70”. My version is broader and shorter. Second, rather than a modern bench with a double row of dog holes, I prefer the “traditional” or European style with a tail-vise and tool cubby. Four layers of MDF glued and screwed together, banded with 8/4 Ash, make a VERY heavy and solid work surface!
I purchased a tail-vise screw and a regular front vise from Lee Valley.
The first thing I needed to do was figure out how to install a tail vise screw. Since mine was only using a screw rather than one with a support plate, I put a couple of grooves in the sides of the tail vise and have the vise supported by a couple of runners. It works slick. There is a small shoulder on the right of the vise; this is great for small pieces—it really has some serious clamping power!