Plywood Workbench: Episode 5

Plywood Workbench Episode 5 Keyframe

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Paul kicks off this episode by attaching the apron to the leg frames. He then continues to complete the next step by gluing the bench top to the apron. Once this is done Paul works on fixing the bench top to the bearers by screwing it into place. Paul then finishes this episode off by fixing the supporting rails for the wellboard into place.


  1. Simon Booton-Mander on 5 April 2019 at 12:42 pm

    It’s looking good Paul.

  2. Benoît Van Noten on 5 April 2019 at 1:08 pm

    May I suggest clamping a scrap of wood to close the top of the apron recesses to avoid the blind assembly on the side and make possible the assembly upright like it was done in 2012 and in episode 6 of the solid-wood workbench video. It would be much easier for the back.

    This plywood workbench is looking so much nicer than my recycled lumber one, probably heavier also, although it would not make any difference in usability.

  3. michael on 5 April 2019 at 1:45 pm

    Haha crazy hanging that drill from that drill bit it might snap!

  4. David Marienau on 5 April 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Enjoyed watching assembly. Great tips on using clamps to square the bench for final assembly.

  5. David Barker on 5 April 2019 at 4:23 pm

    It’s good to see that Paul’s workshop and working methods aren’t those of a super-critical nature. For example, using the band-saw table as somewhere to temporarily put items aside and having the odd whoops factor here and there go a long way towards making me feel more comfortable with my own efforts.
    Thoroughly enjoyable and informative, many thanks.

  6. Carlos M. Zaccaro on 5 April 2019 at 4:55 pm

    Excellent as usual, seems easyer to build than the true wood bench!!!
    But unfortunately plywood here (argentina) is awfull, lesser quality than the worst recicled lumber!!!

  7. Tony DiTola on 5 April 2019 at 5:03 pm

    You say that you want to be able to take the bench apart. How do you do that with the wedges? With the benchtop glued to the apron, there is no way to get that top off anymore.

    • Benoît Van Noten on 5 April 2019 at 5:33 pm

      The top glued to the front apron forms an L beam and is not glued to the leg-frames.
      To knock the workbench down,
      – remove the screws between the leg-frames and the top;
      – remove the screw between the leg-frames and the well board;
      – remove the bolts in the aprons;
      – tap on the wedges to loosen them,
      and “voilà”, you have :
      – two leg-frames;
      – four wedges;
      – a well board;
      – a back apron;
      – the L beam made by the top and front apron;
      – bolts, nuts washers and screws.

      • Benoît Van Noten on 5 April 2019 at 5:50 pm

        On first picture of this blog, you can see P.S. transporting the L-beam (with the vise):

        This knock-down possibility was important to me. I built my workbench in the backyard and moved it to the attic through the staircase 50 steps higher (with some help for the L-beam and before mounting the vise)

      • GARRY BERGESON on 5 April 2019 at 7:23 pm

        How would one go about tapping the wedges back down snug during re-assembly on the side with the solid bench top? It seems as though there would only be a small amount of clearance between the top of the wedge and the bench top which would prevent access with a hammer. Perhaps a prying device of sorts to impart the necessary downwards pressure on the wedge?

        • Benoît Van Noten on 6 April 2019 at 9:01 am

          Effectively, you need some clearance.
          On my solid-wood workbench, I have used a pry-bar between the front wedges and the top to firmly seat the wedges.
          So, eventually, one has to cut off the top of the wedges.
          After the provisional assembly, if necessary, I would re-cut the wedges to ensure about 1″ of clearance.

        • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 8 April 2019 at 4:05 pm

          Hi Gary,

          Paul says:
          Just use a screwdriver as leverage or a 90° angled pinch bar, which is a small crow bar.

          Kind Regards,

  8. tomleg on 5 April 2019 at 5:39 pm

    First use of the workbench … to cut the wedge

  9. tomleg on 5 April 2019 at 6:24 pm

    I’m changing my name to Murphy .. I seem to have made every mistake possible. But it still turned out wonderfully solid. Minor wobble that needs to be dealt with, but I’m thinking of putting heavy rubber or nylon on the bottom of the legs, that would probably cancel out the minor difference.

    • Benoît Van Noten on 6 April 2019 at 9:06 am

      Did you ensure there was no “wind” on the bottom face of the bench-top? (at least where the bench-top seats on the leg frames)
      (I have had to put a shim somewhere between the bench-top and one leg-frame.)

  10. Larry Christensen on 5 April 2019 at 10:51 pm

    Is anyone else having issues with the episode #5.
    I can’t watch it online or after I downloaded loaded it.

  11. Rob Brayfield on 6 April 2019 at 6:10 pm

    Is it not necessary to allow for at least some seasonal movement of the top as this is a plywood sandwich where the orientation is the board thickness?

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 8 April 2019 at 4:05 pm

      Hi Rob,

      Paul says:
      This is a good question, I like it. I have found 0 movement over a period of 3 months.

      Kind Regards,

  12. Antonio Santos on 6 April 2019 at 10:29 pm

    Why is Paul using a roller with the yellow glue instead of using the glue bottle directly, like he does later on with the white glue?
    And I didn’t quite understood the difference between yellow and white glue. Which one is flexible and which one is rigid?


    • Paul Rowell on 7 April 2019 at 8:31 am

      Try googling for “white Vs yellow PVA” if you have a spare hour or two!

      In the USA white PVA is used for craft type activities and yellow for woodworking. Here in the UK the colour is more of a marketing ploy than an indication of function.

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 8 April 2019 at 4:06 pm

      Hi Antonio,

      Paul says:
      The yellow glue is an American version of PVA intended for wood only. It is more rigid than white glues which, in the USA, are manufactured for crafts such as paper and fabric where flexibility is important. I simply switched because the white glue was thinner and better suited to joinery in this case and it has longer open time which means you have longer time to work with the joints before the glue starts to cure.

      Kind Regards,

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 12 April 2019 at 8:48 am

      A more even distribution of glue reduces the risk of slippage because there is less depth for ‘floaty’ bits where the glue might end up thicker. The thickness is more controllable you see. Yellow glue is designed for wood in the USA and white for craft and fabrics where flex is better. here in the ~UK they can be either but most are white with no yellow option for differentiation. America’s system is really good.

  13. wilford everson on 8 April 2019 at 3:20 pm


    • Bill Giles on 8 April 2019 at 10:23 pm

      Did you not notice the name of the series until you got to Episode 5?

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 12 April 2019 at 8:42 am

      It’s a sad thing that some see what I’ve done as being negative when in reality I can see now how very positive it has been; for some it’s been very liberating in that it set them free from the mindset they had that I would look with disdain on them if they “cheated”. Whereas you will never seem me run classical Greek moulding using a power router or route out a dado with one, I think the bandsaw was absolutely essential for resizing larger sections down to smaller work-sized pieces. The last thing I want is to see someone spend two days ripping down 3 x 6 oak sections to get 1 1/2 x 6 pieces for book matched panelling for a wardrobe. Neither do I want to see woodworkers shun plywood after a hundred years of proven quality. Now if you see me squaring up MDF for panelling or drawer fronts, take me out back and shoot me!

  14. Shawn OBrien on 10 April 2019 at 2:27 am

    @ 39.53 “…that’s what happens when you get past sixty-nine”…This made me sad. As the most holistic and profound inspiration for my (err our) craft I now know my lessons are limited; please find a way to continue to communicate your wisdom. Perhaps even as a moderator. I absolutely LOVE your wisdom, vision, not to mention your diatribe.

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 12 April 2019 at 8:35 am

      Oh, I am not giving up and will not be for at least the foreseeable future. I absolutely hate with a passion the word retirement which for many is absolutely necessary and for others is the very last thing they should do.

      • Peter Gaffney on 12 April 2019 at 3:58 pm

        One thing I have always appreciated since I first found your YouTube videos on the three essential joints was your humility and self-deprecating way when you made a mistake. Other videos/authors always left me with the “my way or the highway” feeling. I’ve never had that feeling when watching your videos, Paul. While I don’t intend to build a workbench from plywood, I’ve watched the series and appreciate the value of a bandsaw in a hand tool shop. I’ve made stage props with plywood and joinery using your methods and wished I had a bandsaw when cutting some of the larger parts, but just can’t afford the cost yet. Thanks for everything you do for the average Joe in woodworking.

        • Bernard Duckworth on 13 April 2019 at 2:43 am

          Keep an eye out for a good used one, as well as auctions. I bought mine at an auction for 50$. Where’s not as nice as Paul’s , it’s just meant I’ve had to do some little extras for dust control.
          Good luck in finding yours.

  15. Eyglo Aradottir on 11 April 2019 at 3:42 pm

    I have to admit that I haven´t read comments on earlier episodes, so my question might have been answered before: but why, when making the top, do you not make it out of e.g. 3 layers of larger pieces instead of the many thin stips? Since this is plywood, there shouldn´t be a difference in strength etc.

  16. Mario Turcotte on 12 April 2019 at 4:19 pm

    Paul, you can talk to yourself all you want until you start to reply 🙂

    Do you think adding a piece of hard rubber like flooring rubber under the legs, would make the bench less stable? I’m asking because when it rain some water poor under the garage door, down to the central drain. I would like to prevent any moisture getting to the legs bench.

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 17 April 2019 at 2:25 pm

      Hi Mario,

      I passed on your question to Paul and below is his answer:

      As long as it’s not too resistant and it doesn’t indeed compress, it will be fine.

      Kind Regards,

  17. David Dickson on 17 April 2019 at 1:10 pm

    “I am just talking to myself here …..”
    There are two good reason why a man talks to himself:-
    1.) he likes to talk to talk to a sensible person
    2.) he likes to hear a sensible person talk.

  18. David Dickson on 17 April 2019 at 1:31 pm

    I love this series. Thank you, Paul, for all of the hard work you have put into it and for sharing it with us. I am looking forward to the next episode.

    I suspect that I am not alone in wanting to build a workbench like this, but not having the space to leave it built up all of the time. On 5 APRIL 2019 at 5:33 PM, Benoît Van Noten told us how to break down the bench, and I guess that this would only take 10-15 minutes.

    However, would you consider designing another workbench intended specifically to be disassembled and reassembled as quickly as is possible commensurate with strength, rigidity and usability? Minimum storage space and easy manoeuvrability would be additional desirable features. Thank you for considering this suggestion.


    • Benoît Van Noten on 18 April 2019 at 11:51 am

      There is a workbench which can be assembled in about 58″ (there is a video, google for it):
      the Moravian workbench
      (you might want to make it higher)
      With the wooden leg vise, it is easy to move.
      A metal quick release vise on this workbench would make moving the workbench-top difficult (risk: back pain, crushed feet, …).
      Paul Sellers is extensively using his quick release vise.
      With a leg vise, you would have to adopt other work holding practices.

    • Izzy BergerTeam Member on 18 April 2019 at 3:23 pm

      Hi David,

      I passed on your message to Paul and he said:

      Thank you for this thought, I will give it some consideration.

      Kind Regards,

  19. Benoît Van Noten on 21 April 2019 at 11:08 am

    To make the Paul Sellers workbench easy to assemble/disassemble, one should get rid of the screws and bolts. I would TRY this:

    – screw four battens to the underside of the workbench-top to ensure the leg-frames will remain square to the apron (one batten on each side of where the leg-frames would come);
    – use “bed rail fastener” instead of bolts to attach the back apron to the leg-frames + keep the wedges.
    – screw “bed rail fastener” to the underside of the workbench-top and the other part of the fastener on top on the bearers of the leg-frames. This is to pull the workbench-top onto the bearer and to prevent the top/front apron assembly (L-beam) to tip under the weight of the vise when fully extended with heavy board in it. Put the fastener near the well board for maximum leverage.

    For assembly:
    – install the back apron and wedge it; the leg-frames will then be stable and positioned;
    – pose the L-beam on the leg-frames and push it to make the bed rail fastener grip;
    – use two clamps to press the bottom of the front apron against the leg-frames.
    – wedge the front apron;
    The clamps must remain in place during use as they replace the missing bolts. (they will not protrude more then the vise)
    The well board doesn’t need to be attached

    So instead of a lot of screws and four bolts, one would only need two clamps.
    I would preferably use long clamps pressing the front and back aprons together (the ones used by Paul are not expensive)

    Instead of bed rail fastener one coud use metal plates with key-hole and heavy screws (see what Paul uses to hang his bookshelf – Paul Instagram 2d of June 2018) For the workbench I would use iron/steel.

    for the bed fastener, google “heavy-duty-bed-rail-fasteners”. (you will find them at Rockler, woodcraft, woodworker, Rok hardware etc.)

    Manipulating the L-beam with a quick release vise installed would not be that easy. It would be interesting to find a solution for quick installation of the vise.

    As said above it has not been tested.

    • Benoît Van Noten on 21 April 2019 at 2:02 pm

      Further to my idea about a quick assembly/knock down Paul Sellers workbench,
      I would add the investment for the experiment would be about
      16 $ for the four bed fastener;
      18 $ for two 90 cm aluminium bar clamp; but you probably already have them.
      In any case you will need screws.
      – If it isn’t sturdy as you wished, you have two clamps which you can normally use; buy bolts and screws.
      – if it works you can shorten the two clamps with a hack saw to minimise protruding, placing the clamp screw head at the back of the workbench.
      I would think that you don’t need to remove the battens and the bed fasteners even if it were not conclusive.

      I will not try it on my workbench because I have already installed:
      – the bottom shelf;
      – the drawer;
      – the lateral shelves for sharpening stones etc.

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