1. Thanks Paul….all about that was superb. I would have simply loved the instruction 50 years ago. The level of perfection you teach can be applied to all I do.
    My housing joints ( thanks to you ) are perfect but the sloping face you show is such a simple idea, thank you.


      1. I prefer not have bottomed out the dividers, especially when it comes time to sweep out the shavings and sawdust. A one inch gap at the bottom of each would have been fine, or drill a hole or two in the bottom of the center well.

    1. The angled housing is used to create a wedging action which avoids any gaps in the joint, keeping it tight. The dado could be cut square but if not done perfectly there could be a gap at the bottom (no big deal because it is just a divider) but more so at the top which would look bad. This begs the question…why glue them at all? I would prefer a screw from the underside to pull the wedge down. This would allow the option to pop the wedges/divider out to get at the screws holding the well to the bench in case you ever wanted to remove the well. The benefit of gluing them it that is creates a torsion box.

      1. I was wondering the same thing about the mounting screws. My bench won’t accommodate a tray like that but I think I would prefer to be able to take it off easily if I needed to. I think Paul was teaching a tapered housing dado and that’s good to do. If you don’t mind seeing the mounting screws, an alternative that preserves the structural integrity would be a normal housing dado and glue and clamp the dividers to the sides first – then install the bottom and plane to fit. I think you want those dividers glued in solidly though. Without that connection, a load on the outside edge could split the bottom.

    1. This is a question I have long wondered about as well.

      If you have the space, the middle is preferable – for long board, large sheets, case goods, etc. Tons of examples of this in shop classes, factories, just about every video, etc.

      Even with Paul’s relatively small shop, he has gone this way. But, his video series almost mandates this approach such that we can watch him work.

      I love Paul’s hand techniques, but – like Paul – I also have a lot of machinery and still sneak around using it for various projects.

      Thus, even with a larger shop and even with an ongoing evolution towards hand tools only, the machinery is still there and has its own clearance requirements.

      Given all the trade-offs, putting the bench up against or close to a wall has thus been far more than a passing fancy.

      Aside from extra space in the shop, this against-the-wall orientation makes the wall much more valuable for handy tool storage. You don’t have to turn around to find the tool you need, you won’t inadvertently bump unseen tools as you move around, and all (most) of your tools can be accessed at easy arms length.

      Frustrated by the trade-offs, I finally put wheels on the bottom of my bench and move it around as appropriate. Most of the time it is against the wall. This handles most stock preparation (even long boards), and virtually all small projects. Then, I move it out to handle larger projects, glue-up, etc.

      Sadly, though, this makes Paul’s extra tool tray less attractive for me as my arms aren’t long enough to easily reach the racks on the wall. Thus, I think I will copy his chisel drawer and make a shelf for the mortise gauges instead.

      A further downside of the ‘flexible’ approach is that I cannot use the nice foam floor tiles like Paul has as these aren’t friendly for rolling around on.

      1. Away from the wall, unless you only do small projects. For instance, my bench is 30 inches deep, which limits me to 24-inch clamps for glue-ups. Yes, I lose having tools on the wall in front of me, but I generally have immediate use ones laying in the tool tray or on the bench.

        I also don’t like staring at a wall when I work.

    2. My shop is 1500square feet and most of it is for production woodwork. My bench is against the wall. The main use for the bench is the joinery. Larger piece joinery is done on another assembly table with clamped down system. I guess you just have to work around your shop making the space efficient for your projects.

    3. Away from the wall. I’m making a small painted table right now and needed to get to all sides to apply the finish. I don’t want to be forced to move the work around, certainly when finishing, and often when building.

    4. It’s really what works for you and most likely, you can expect to make some changes after you work with your arrangement for a while. I think I’ve move things around at least a half dozen times over the years. I like access around my main bench which has a center tray and an end vise. But I also have a 2′ x 10′ bench/cabinet against the wall behind the main bench and below a wall mounted tool cabinet and saw till. A vertical arrangement like that was the only way I could end up with enough floor space.

        1. That’s a good point. Of all the things we talk about, we seem to forget lighting and it’s so critical for this kind of work. For my eyes, nowhere other than the middle of the backyard on cloudless days would work without electrical intervention. So I installed six 4ft -4 tube fluroscent fixtures in the shop plus some additional spot lighting in specific areas.

          1. Me too. I have ceiling fixtures plus a couple of cheap painters lights that clamp where ever I need, often to a joist, sometimes to a stick in the vise. I find fluorescent strip lights better than LED because the light is less directed. With time, that may change. Finally, I have a fluorescent ring light around a magnifier that is on an arm that clamps to the edge of the bench. Usually, I just use the light, not the magnifier, but the lens is definitely used. This setup lets me swing the light to exactly where I want it, especially when sawing. It’s not perfect and doesn’t always get where I need it to be, so another option, which I’ll do next, is to turn a doodad that goes into dog or holdfast holes in the bench top. You then grab that with a clamp-based light. Now you can move the light to quite a few places on your bench. I’ve not had good luck with clamp base lights in the past (they always slip) so I imagine I’ll end up making the connection between the lamp and dog-hole doodad more robust when I eventually do this.

            So, I think the answer, “put the bench where the light is” is a really good answer, but I put my lights in a place to keep my bench away from the wall. : – )

          2. I never had good luck with those clamp on lights either. For one thing, I really don’t have a place on the bench to clamp to. I found the same type of articulated light with just a heavy base and that has worked well for me. I can move it wherever I need it or quickly remove it entirely if it gets in the way.

    1. Paul mentions at 20:34 that the sliding aspect means that you can put glue in the housings and the ends don’t make contact until they seat right down to the bottom. That is the main advantage.
      Thanks, Phil

  2. Ah, that small size of (sash) clamps is new to me! Think I’ll stick to my longer ones 😉 I don’t have a camera close to my bench on the other side. Thank you for the insights on how you do it.

  3. “I never had good luck with those clamp on lights either. For one thing, I really don’t have a place on the bench to clamp to. ”


    If you have a tool we’ll at the back of your bench or incorporate Paul’s add-on well, you can make a saddle that slips over the rear board to mount whatever light system you want.

    Mine isn’t fastened, so it will slide along the backboard to stay out of the way or easily lift off. It has some holes in it to also hold a couple pencils, a draftman’s pencil sharpener and odds and ends.


  4. Paul,
    I notice you got a new watch. I couldn’t help but notice. Your old one looked like an analogue piece and fit who I imagine you are. Old fashioned, timeless, classic. This new digital watch that disappears unless you touch it (I presume) seems quite out of character with who I imagine you to be. I hope you like the new watch because it’s distracting me from your work when I watch you now. 🙂

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