Build a Compact Workbench

Abel Dances

LEVEL 2, 3



A workbench is the most important tool in a hand tool woodworker's shop.

Building a first bench can be a real challenge - you almost need a bench to build a bench. I (Tim) wanted to call this the "Build a Bootstrap Bench" but wiser heads prevailed. We don't position this bench as your final, ultimate bench but the bench that you can use to build your Roubo bench.

Class Description

We've designed a compact workbench using mortice and tenon joinery that is easily knocked down for transport but is rigid enough for hand work. The size of the bench (60" x 30") will not overpower a small shop. The height of the bench can be tailored to your height in  class.

We'll build it from (hopefully) reclaimed first growth Douglas Fir - we will source the material nearer the time of the class. We'll prepare a kit for each bench so you focus in the joinery and construction. We expect the cost of kit (including labour to prepare the kit) to be under $500. We'll take a deposit and let you know the final cost before the class.

You will primarily be working with hand tools in this class but we'll be using the bandsaw and drill press to accelerate the joinery processes. We'll provide instruction in the safe and efficient use of these tool.

We're designing the bench to take undermounted vises - like either of Lee Valley's Quick Release Front Vise (~$300) or Large Front Vise (~ $90). You can order these vices through us.

Note: We're building the prototype of the bench at the moment. You can follow along on the Joiner's Apprentice.


The School's workbenches and teaching tools provide high quality hand tools for all the activities in this class. If you have started to build your own kit of hand tools we encourage you  to bring them to the class.

You will be using a drill press and bandsaw in this class. Please bring hearing, dust and ear protection.


This class should not be your first time working with hand tools. If you have self studied and completed many of the projects in Jim Tolpin's "The New Traditional Woodworker" or have taken hand tool classes elsewhere or have other equivalent experience then this will be a great class for you.

Students who have taken Jim’s Hand Tool Heaven class or the Hand Saw Essentials and Hand Plane Essentials classes in our Basics Of Woodworking program will find this a great class to add joinery skills to their repertoire.

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.

Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.

Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10

Cost: $675

Materials Charge: $ 50*
*Materials deposit: 
We will finalize the prices of the materials and the vices two months before the class and contact you to confirm details.

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.