New to woodworking, workbench build

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    So i am rather new to woodworking, have been trying at it for nearly 6 months now. Of those 6 months the majority of them have been me trying to make a workbench off of Paul’s design. I have both of the bench top sections glued and somewhat to the right dimensions, the aprons glued and ready, the well board all ready, and all of the legs glued and ready for the mortises to be cut. The only issue is that i am extremely unhappy with what i have so far. Attached is a picture of one of the bench top sections and i believe it will show why i am unhappy with it better than my words can.

    I am to the point of just wanting to start completely over, but using 1×3 pine boards this time instead of the 2×4 “white wood” from the big box store. If i do so it will be roughly 2-3 times more exspensive but i believe the results will be much better, and also the pine comes without the rounded corners while the white wood studs are rounded; which has been a major issue for me since my planing skills are little to non existent.

    More or less im just looking for a bit of guidance and to see what the community would suggest.


    Hey buddy, welcome to the forum. Ok I can only tell you what I would do, so it may not be correct, and I’m sure others will tell you different.

    If I was truly unhappy with a project, and felt like starting over again, that is exactly what I would do. I think the top is the most important part of the bench build, so why not remake them first, and take it from there.

    If you are truly unhappy with everything then start again, take your time,and make it the best you can. I’m sure you will find a use for what you have made so far.
    Just my opinion, what ever you decide good luck and enjoy ๐Ÿ˜‰


    Mark Armstrong

    I would look at it differently you will be surprised what you can do with a sharp plane and it will be practice for you. Not only in planning but sharpening as well.

    Dagenham, Essex, England

    John Poutier


    If you realize your “planing skills are little to non existent”, I think you answered your own question. While you could start over, what makes you think the results would be different? I had a similar problem. My approach was to suck it up and break a sweat. Of course the final top may be a bit thinner, but it sure felt good when the top came out level without any twist. And I sure learned a bunch about how to use both a scrub plane and the smoother. Oh, and the rounded edges seemed to disappear!

    I would probably agree with Kin if it was a piece of furniture for my home, but I’m not there yet….it was a work bench, and the first project on a long journey.

    All the best with whatever you decide,


    Yorktown, Virginia

    Charles Cleland

    I would press on with what you have, for two reasons:

    1.) Its a work bench. You are going to beat the heck out of it. Mine looked very pretty when i built it. One project later it had a few dings, a stain or two. 5 years from now it will look like pauls. He even mentions in one of his videos that his top isn’t even flat anymore. The point being that the bench is made to build furniture on. It ISN’T furniture itself. Now, after you have built a few things on it you will have increased your skill to the point to hopefully do it right, and you will know better what you want from your bench.

    2.) If the top is so badly out of square and wind that you can’t make it work, Terr tops will go through a standard lunchbox type electric planer if you take light cuts and help it feed manually. If you don’t have one, i bet you can find someone who does. A cabinet shop, a high school wood shop, somewhere. I bet you can get someone to sort your top sections out for less money than you would spend on material for new ones.

    Once you get a solid bench built with that so important vise to hold your work securely you will be able to teach yourself to plane. Paul makes it look easy, but building a bench without a bench its a lot more difficult than it looks.

    Washington State, USA
    My own humble blog:


    I am to the point of just wanting to start completely over

    What luck! You are in a win-win situation! Since you are already willing to start over, you have nothing to lose. Start planeing the wind out first and then plane down until the gaps from the rounded edges are gone. Take breaks from planeing often to re-sharpen your plane.
    When you are done you might be amazed at what you were able to do! And … If you still do not like it, then you can start over.

    Robin ... Richmond, Virginia, USA


    Thanks for sharing with us. My first advice don’t panic, chin up and YOU CAN Fix and build your bench) I builded my bench without any bench and with no practice in planing skills. And good news you don’t need to buy new wood))) You going to use same wood. One step in the time, you gonna saw 1st board from your top it’s not that hard , grooves should help you for following sawing line. After that make this board square on your existing top(secure your board in the clamp, secure clamp to rest of your top)Check you board with the square during hand planing, separate another board from your top repeat flattening process. In this way you will practice sawing and plaining.And smile and be happy during all process you learning, be patient don’t rush enjoy from the process))

    Toronto, Canada


    If it were me I would just sharpen the plane blade, put the table top on a flat surface or saw horses and just start planning, working on the high surfaces first. I bet you could flatten that top in no time one you started working on it.

    George Bridgeman

    If your planing skills need improving, this is a great opportunity to practice! The thing to accept is that, like everyone, you’re going to make mistakes again in the future, so it’s important to be able to correct them.

    Look closely at what you have. Take a pair of winding sticks, or a couple of straight edges, and examine the bench top. Find out where it’s flat and where it’s twisted, so you can see where you need to remove wood in order to get it flat and remove the twist. You’ll need to check across the length and width of the top, in several places across both axes, in order to become familiar with the top. Then sharpen your plane and go to town hogging off material. Focus on one particular area (a one foot length at one end, for example) and check your work frequently – you’ll be amazed how quickly the wood comes away. It’s all too easy to over correct! Once you’ve got one section of the top flat, you’ve then got a reference surface to work with.

    Paul’s videos on YouTube show him flattening the bench top and aprons. The stock preparation videos will also give some good guidance.

    It’s frustrating but is very good practice and getting surfaces flat is absolutely fundamental to woodworking – you’re going to be doing a lot of it in the future (although not always on this scale!) so it’s an important skill to master.

    If (when!) I were to build my bench again I’d do many things differently. What I learned from the mistakes I made, however, was far more valuable to me than the actual bench itself. The techniques and skills I learned while building the bench get used all the time on every project I build using the finished bench. It’s the journey, not the destination, that has the real value.

    There are many people on the forum who have been through the same build, so can and will help with any questions.

    Hope this helps!


    "To know and not do is to not know"

    Eddy Flynn

    good luck when you become the expert in removing twist and wind you can give us all the trick you have learned, i enjoy planing (sad i know) this to me would be an afternoon well spent

    Eddy .. Liverpool, Merseyside, UK

    Steve Follis

    Hey StepJohns, and Welcome!!

    We all have stories to tell of projects that didn’t cooperate. We are all here to learn, share, encourage each other, and have fun! Don’t let this get you down, it will be great when you get it all sorted out.

    It can be planed flat, and you have some good advice here for doing that. Or you can rebuild any time you want, it is your bench. From what I see in the picture, I wonder if the twist came in from the glue-up rather than the planing. You can do a fair amount of persuading with a twisted or bowed board when you glue them together. Make sure you have a flat surface or parallel sawhorses to work on as a reference when you do glue the boards together.

    Again, Welcome to the community!!!

    Memphis, Tennessee


    Thank you all for such a warm welcome, and as well all the great advice and encouragement. Going to sharpen up the planes and just go at it until i get it right


    Way to go Stephen. Let us know how you progress buddy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Mark Armstrong

    Stephen it will be hard work you will learn a lot and it will be rewarding. Even if it dose not come out perfect. Bench will still be a valuable tool ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Dagenham, Essex, England


    Welcome here Stephen,good luck with your benchtop.
    You already got some great tips from the members to get started,if i may add another tip,start with flattening the underside of the benchtop,when this side is flat you could attach it to the frame of the bench,this makes it easier to do the topside of the benchtop because now you have created some stifness.
    Hope this helps,good luck.

    Lopik - Netherlands

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