Friday, December 18, 2009


A Dedicated Sharpening Bench

I'm happy to say that the plans for my Dedicated Sharpening Bench are now available for free download. It's a pdf file so feel free to send me an email and I'll forward them along to you. You can save the pics here from the blog but I don't think the resolution is as good.

This bench was a great hand tool project and would make a nice craft table or child size workbench. A friend of mine said it would be perfect for tying flies and my wife mentioned it would make a nice kitchen island but I think I'd raise it up about 8" in height for that application. Discovering and uncovering design challenges and finding ways to bring solutions into a practical but aesthetically pleasing project is a wonderful experience. I'm sure you could find ways to adapt this bench design to your own system and work shop needs. I'd love to hear about them-
If you have limited shop space and you're considering building this design as a work bench then I'd caution you. Sure, you could stick a face vise on the end and cut dovetails until your hearts content but for cabinet making applications where hand planing and chopping mortises are common practice then you may want to up-scale the dimensions by at least half. That's just my opinion from working on a full size workbench and finding limitations in it. I can't imagine trying to build a piece of furniture on a bench this size. That said, for sharpening saws, plane irons and chisles it's a perfect size for my needs.
I'm the worst when it comes to computers except e-mail and blogging so it's no surprise I can't figure out how to upload a pdf. file here to Blogger...
oh well...drop me a line if you'd like me to send you the file....


  1. That's a really fine looking bench Tom. It's certainly worthy of use anywhere in the house, and would make my woodworking bench cower in shame.

    Yep, Blogger only allows image uploads. A technique for other types of files is to obtain a free storage account, such as Googlepages. Then, upload your PDF there and establish a link to it from your blog.

    Details at:

  2. thanks bob!
    i'll have a look-

  3. Tom,
    My tiny workshop would certainly benefit from having a sharpening bench like yours. Maybe you should include the plans in your (hopefully ?) planned second book. The first one is a cracker. Until then I could you please send me the pdf?

    an Aussie fan.

  4. Hi Tom,

    Thank you for the inspiring work! As always, it's a pleasure to watch you go through a project in such detail.

    Looking at the drawings in the second image one question arises: wood movement! If I got it right, the top is trapped between the front apron and the back piece which is also the internal wall of the tool tray.

    Won't this explode if the top wants to expand? I don't see how the top can expand...

    Take care,

  5. Luis,
    thanks for the comment and question-
    The back of the work surface is completely free to move. This is possible because the back splash/front wall of the tool tray is just sitting there. no joinery- It'll push backwards when the surface expands and when the surface contracts, I'll just nudge it forward a little. There is also a small rabbet at the work surface height, cut into the tool tray front apron- this helps hide any gaps along the edge!
    The tool tray bottom sits on two cleats fixed to the tool tray walls and is made to have some 'wiggle room.'
    So no problems when the surface moves. Oh yeah, the top of the rear legs, those stub tenons are also a bit firgiving. no glue there either... As the top expands they'll be able to let the oak slide over and if anything, may cause the lower frame to tighten up a little through the wet months. Thats o.k. too.
    Hope that helps-

    all the best.

  6. donperegoy@comcast.netDecember 22, 2009 at 7:01 AM

    Morning Tom,

    This has been an interesting series, appreciate the details. while I do not have room for a dedicated sharpening area ( My shop is so small the cat has to back out) I learned a lot by seeing how you put this together.

    So please send PDF file and



  7. first time leaving a comment. hope this is done right. haha...

    read your post about the lie-nielsen iron mitre plane and immediately ordered one.

    then came across this badboy! have you seen this baby?

  8. Michael,

    the comment worked- ;)

    I have seen the Sauer and Steiner hand planes- they are absolutely amazing and I can only hope to be in the position to buy one some day!!
    Nice to dream though-
    thanks for the comments.