Welcome! Forums General Woodworking Discussions Projects Understanding work holding with Paul's workbench design

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • Author
  • #493670
    Dave C

    So far I’ve been doing all my woodworking on a Black and Decker workmate.

    It’s been horrible shaky, but very flexible for work holding, since I can clamp things to the top, use bench dogs, or the vise in the middle.

    I’m planning to build a proper workbench next, but don’t really understand work holding on Paul’s bench.

    The wide apron means that clamping things to the top will be very hard, and there are no dog holes or planing stops, so everything would be done in the vise.

    For anyone that’s built/used one, how does this work out for you?

    It seems to me that you’d never use 90% of the bench you built (except for keeping tools on, or for glue up), since all planing/joinery would be done in the vise.

    If that’s the case, is the only purpose of the bench to provide stability for the vise? Is there a reason not to add dog holes or planing stops to make better use of the full bench length?

    Would be great to hear your experiences (since mine are limited to a workmate and pictures of other benches I’ve seen on the internet).

    Larry Geib


    But if you want a tail vise, end vise, planing stop, dog hole, holdfasts, etc. Just add them. A bar clamp will fit across the apron, but if you want shorter clamps drill holes in the apron for them. And you can drill holes for dogs to support long work.

    I have all on my bench, and a shoulder vise as well. It’s personal preference.

    Paul installed a tail vise on his bench at the castle, and he installed a planing stop as well. I never saw him use either.



    All that stuff you can add as you please, and Paul even shows how.


    I suspect one reason everything he does is centered around the vise is that’s where the cameras point.


    Hi Dave.
    I have been working on this type of bench for the last three years and find it very useful. Paul fully described the system himself. Here are the links:

    Good luck.


    David B

    I drilled a couple of holes for dogs in mine but I almost never use them. Paul has shown so many other clever alternatives…


    Any bench I use will always have two vises. It has nothing to do with dogs. It’s just that there is always a second thing to hold. I may have work in the vise and want to touch up an edge, so the sharpening stone holder goes into the other vise. Or, it might be a shooting board. Or, it might be something in the vise as a clamp, drying. Or, it might be a second project. Or, it might be something my daughter is working on. Other times, it’s just nice to have a vise oriented differently from the face vise, to give different access to a cut. My second vise is just another steel face vise, but mounted at the end of the bench, like a tail vise. As long as I’m going to have a vise there, I’ll go ahead and put in dog holes. I don’t understand Paul’s fuss about chips in the holes…I have a shop vac, and I like being able to use a holdfast.

    Look at Ian Kirby’s description of a planing stop that comes up through the bench top. I use that quite a bit. An alternative to that is an L-shaped piece of thin material. Imagine dovetailing the front and side of a drawer, but from thin material, as thin as you dare. Put that in your face vise with the long piece dead flat on the bench. The idea is to use that as a planing stop to push against. I’ve not tried this, since I have Kirby’s style installed, but am passing on the idea. You can rotate the material in the vise to get a taller stop. Note that Paul has something that he set into his benchtop from Lee Valley that pops up and acts as a stop.

    You can still clamp things to the top. You just need a longer clamp, that’s all, to reach to the bottom of the apron.

    As for size of the benchtop, it’s not wasted space. As long as you can get it flat, the space is useful, e.g., for working on a table top or the rear posts of a chair. Don’t underestimate the utility of having space for your tools or to put aside a bit of work while you do something else.

    Dave C

    Thanks for the links/videos/feedback, I hadn’t seen those before. Looks like Paul uses a bunch of work holding techniques that I hadn’t thought about before.

    It sounds like I can go ahead with his bench build and see how it works out, guess I can always add another vise (or tail vise) and holes/stops later if I really need them.

    Larry Geib

    If you think you might add a tail vise, you should probably lower the top leg stretcher on that end to allow for the bars and screw.

    I think Paul shows how in his previous build series for the larger workbench.
    You will probably profit from viewing that whole series anyway.

    And if you use his sash clamp in the vise method, don’t forget the bar should be plugged with wood so you can squeeze it in the vise.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by Larry Geib.
    Nicholas Newble

    An easier and cheaper method, and arguably more conducive to maintaining workflow, instead of a tail vice, is the holdfast and batten method. Combined with the Paul Sellers sash cramp in face vice method, and perhaps a sticking board, you can just about hold anything you need to.

    (Hope my posting a link to another woodworker’s video is ok?)

    Larry Geib

    Mike siemsen shows how to use a Nicholson ( English) bench without a wise at at.

    The beauty of Paul’s bench is you can take it in any direction you please

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.