Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Build a Workbench


Build a Workbench



The most important tool in any woodshop is the workbench. This bench is designed to be a great first bench, but that said, many first benches go on to be the workhorse for the rest of your woodworking life. One of the advantages of a compact bench is that it can be used in the house which is especially useful if you're just getting started in hand tool woodworking.

This compact bench (60" long x24" wide) will be built of traditionally joined domestic hardwood, most likely ash. We're expecting you to tune the height of the bench to match your working style - we'll provide 36" long leg blanks.

The knock-down design is well suited for easy transport and for installation in the corner of a room in your house or shop.

The leg vise is a traditional standard that is hard to beat. The screw for the leg vise is included in the price. During the class we'll review options for shoulder / end vices. We'll be offering hold downs, made by a local blacksmith, for sale during the class. 

We'll provide you with a kit of pre-milled parts and you'll be able to finish the construction during the class. The bench top will be laminated before the class. The joinery will be cut using a combination of machine and hand tool techniques and we'll show you how to work efficiently. The joints and skills you learn work for many other furniture and trim projects such as tables, bedsteads and balustrades.

Class Description

During the class you will:

  • Orient to a technical drawing.
  • Create a lofting and complete a story stick
  • Construct a rigid bench trestle.
  • Produce mortise and tenon joinery by hand
  • Drawbore all fixed joinery
  • Produce bread-board ends.
  • Plan for vises and hardware.
  • Surface a bench top.
  • Draw-bore the leg tenons.
  • Explore vise and work-holding options.
  • For those of you who work fast we'll explore traditional forms of detailing to lighten and refine the bench members.


If you have started to build your own set of hand tools we encourage you to bring them along to the class so that you can deepen your experience with them and work with the instructors to tune and fully understand them. Please see our What to Expect page if you plan to ship your tools to the school.

Otherwise you are welcome to use the high quality hand tools at our fully equipped workbenches.


This is a fully kitted course. We will be working to a standardized design from prepared stock. The bench members will be milled from select hardwood stock of moderate density, such as Ash. Components will be adequately sized to support joinery needs as well as room for the personalization of decorative nuance.


This course is designed for woodworkers who have some hand tool experience, specifically with joinery. 
We recommend:
Hand Tool Heaven
Hand Tool Heaven II: Joinery or Just Joints

If you have not attended the School but you have the skills equivalent to those in Jim Tolpin's The New Traditional Woodworker then this course is an ideal next step for you.

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day. This class has a rigorous pace, so come early and ready to work. 
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 8
Cost: $850
Materials Charge: $650
Register By: May 30, 2017

*This is a 6 day class. Students may choose to use the shop on the seventh day (Sunday) until 5pm for a small additional fee to finish up any last assembly. 

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.