My Bench 

(with vises!)


My main bench in my shop is an old machine base made out of 4x4x1/2" angle so it weighs around 600 pounds.

The main top area is 4' x 5' and covered with 1/4" steel plate, but there is also a cantilevered piece that is 24" x 48" x 1-1/2" thick.

It is that piece that I am focusing on here.


The cantilevered top is two pieces of 12"x24"x 1-1/2" steel that were 'bolster plates' in a large press-brake.

It was used for stamping shelving parts out of sheet steel on a press-brake that would not even fit in my shop!

The two plates came to me with many 1/2-13 threaded holes in them, along with a bunch of 1/2" through holes.

I tack-welded the two pieces side-by-side, and mounted them on my bench with a single support leg which makes it accessible from three sides. They are very carefully leveled up to within a few thousandths of an inch per foot so I can clamp stuff in place for welding and use a level to dial everything in.


I have two vises mounted on this top: an Emmert K1 patternmaker's vise and a Wilton quick-acting woodworker's vise:


The Emmert is the star of the show. Its 18" wide jaws open to 14", it tilts, turns, and the jaws can even be angled to hold tapered pieces:


You can see the support-leg for the bench top in the image below:


The Wilton woodworker's vise is handy because it opens with a half-turn and a pull on the handle.


The bench itself is also a wonderful workholding device. With all of those 1/2-13 holes and 1/2" through holes, standard workholding setups for metal machining can be used, which for welding is a great advantage.


The 1/2" through-holes are used with Vise-Grip drill-press hold-down clamps. The 1/2" thread on the Vise-Grip is simply dropped into a through-hole and when the clamp is tightened, it cam-action locks in the hole very solidly - no nut needed on the underside! 


I also made some of my own out of old Vise-Grips I had lying around:

The bench top also can have pins of any sort (here I have used 1/2-13 socket head cap screws) dropped in the holes and the Emmert will clamp very large flat pieces happily:

I really, really, really like this bench - it's very handy to have around!



Here's some of what I have built on this bench:








6400 SE Lake Rd #142

Portland, OR 97222