Workbench Alternative

While a good, sturdy workbench is considered essential for the serious woodworker, it is often impractical for a hobbyist woodworker in India. For most urban hobbyists there simply isn’t enough space at home for a dedicated workshop with a dedicated workbench. Yet, there are many features of a workbench which are essential to many woodworking applications and procedures. Unless a piece of wood is held properly it is often impossible to work upon it properly and with precision. The workbench with a wood vice and holes for bench dogs and stops is thus something of a necessity for a woodworker.

I came upon a workbench alternative after weeks of experimenting and having completed it recently, found it good for most tasks. The idea is very simple: instead of building a permanent workbench, why not build a portable light duty bench substitute?

The photograph above shows the workbench substitute or the portable workbench. It is nothing but three layers of three quarter inch plywood stuck together with a vice on one end and dog holes along its centre. 

How to Make it

Putting this together is simplicity itself. Cut three pieces of ¾ inch plywood pieces as long as you want (mine is 4 feet long) and at least 12 inches wide. Stick them together with glue or screws; drill a series of ¾ inch dog holes spaces six inches apart along the centre line of the board. Mount a wood vice by drilling holes for the bolts. You may need shims below the board to hold the vice below the work surface. One jaw of the vice will have to be recessed into the board.

Vice attachment, view from below. Note the shims attached to maintain the correct hieght of the vice.
Rear jaw of vice is inserted in recess cut into end of work surface. This will allow the addition of a wooden jaw that would be flush with the work surface.

Vice with both wooden jaws attached.

Two appropriately sized pieces of any hard wood could be cut to attach to the jaws of the vice. These wooden add-ons serve two purposes, one being to prevent the wood pieces being held from being marred by the steel jaws. The second purpose is to hold work pieces. The piece attached to the front jaw of the vice should be higher than the surface of the workbench by about an inch. This will allow the jaw to secure a piece of wood against a bench stop or dog.

Simple bench stop made with a piece of stainless steel curtain rod and a piece of scrap wood.

Bench stops could be made by cutting off three inch sections of any stainless steel pipe or curtain rod. These rods need to be glued, preferably epoxied onto a ¾ inch hole drilled into a small piece of wood. These bench stops are easily inserted into the bench holes.

This portable workbench could be bolted onto any table or simply clamped on. When not in use, it could be unclamped and stowed away in some convenient corner. This workbench works for me despite its limitations. It just might do the same for you.

Indranil Banerjie
20 July 2013



  1. Brilliant! And very practical as well.

  2. From where can i find this type of vice in India?

    1. Akhrietuo: Such vices are widely available in India. You will have to locate the local hardware-tools market in your city. Several companies make these vices and an Internet search should throw up their details. You could also try Shobha Industries on the Internet and call them.

  3. Wonderful idea! Planned to make a dedicated bench with vice.But your article changes that! If I can make like this one, it becomes portable also.Great.Is it possible to fix it on any table with c clamps sir?


Post a Comment

Thanks for your message.