MFT style workbench

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Established Member
2 Feb 2017
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So I feel like this might be a bit of a controversial one around here, but I have a crudely cobbled together MFT style workbench/ assembly table that's in need of an upgrade so I'll chronicle it here. It'll be a bit of a slow burn but hopefully that'll give you all plenty of time to point out all my mistakes and bad decisions along the way!

Before anyone starts going on about pounding on it with a hammer or needing a solid vice, I already have a solid wooden workbench I built about 6 years ago which covers all the hand tool stuff nicely. The value of the MFT for me is for tracksaw cutting, routing, sanding and assembly.

Let's start with a photo of what I have currently;


It's on wheels which is nice in a small workshop, it keeps my vacuum tidied away and I stuck a drawer unit from an old wardrobe in there for more storage. I've used it with the benchdogs rail dogs, but I find that a fiddly affair and would rather replace it with a festool style hinge - I've bought @petermillard 's plans for a plywood hinge so I'll be incorporating that into my new table.
I also want to make the new table a little larger, and replace the drawer unit with drawers for systainers - I bought a load of the makita branded boxes pretty cheap a few months ago and really like them for tool storage.

So the plan... Sorry I'm not one for drawing things out, I prefer to have an idea and work it out as I go! I'm planning to use the existing top as a template to make a new one from plywood, I'm thinking about 1200x800mm, so I should fit an extra row of holes in both directions. I'm hoping I can fit two columns of systainer drawers and still fit the vacuum to the right, let's hope my maths is right on that 🤞

Finally I'm thinking I can reuse the existing MFT top, but hinge it to one side of the new table for a fold up extension.

Before I embark on this project I'm all ears, has anyone else made anything similar and wish they did something different? I've seen a few super duper deluxe, all singing and dancing MFT tables on the festool owners group, I guarantee this won't be any where near as fancy! At the end of the day it's a tool for the workshop so I'm not planning to spend a fortune on it, but happy to take inspiration and adapt ideas and advice from anyone out there.
Thanks Triton, it's tempting but I don't think I have much need for it - I won't be using the dog holes for referencing cuts, so I can live with a little imperfection in the layout. My plan is to use the original as a template - drill with an 18mm forstener bit and then finish off with a flush cut router bit. Should be plenty accurate enough for my needs 🤞
Nothing controversial about a workbench, just avoid mentioning "" ! Having the ability to make your own 20mm holes is a big bonus, there are also other uses so a good investment. Making the 20mm holes is a subject in it's own right so do a search of these forums and there will also be a new method arriving when @petermillard completes.

You can locate the track using these B-Dogs and these clips to hold it tight against UJK Dog Rail Clip (Pair)

This in conjunction with your side fence gives you a cutting table. Look up Peter Millards ten minute workshops and you will be presented with an array of techniques and a bewieldering choice of options.

I also incorporate the Matchfit slots into my worktop and the clamps, a great versatile way of holding stuff down and also another load of other uses, just look at Microjig Matchfit

If you like the hinge system then this is what you need available from Quad MFT Hinge System - PRE-ORDER - 12TH BATCH but other good options are parallel guides and rail squares which allow you to cut up sheet goods easily.

If you have the ability to produce your own tops then you can treat them as consumable like I do but they do last a long time, you can also add aprons to the workbench so you can hold pieces in the vertical so plenty of scope.
Thanks Spectric, the matchfit slots sound interesting, I've already got a couple of Axminster guide rail clamps though so I might have a crack at something similar, I have a keyhole router cutter that might do the job 🤔

I've seen the benchdogs rail hinge, looks good but the price is a bit steep for me, hence why I'm going to have a crack at making Peter Millard's plywood rail hinge!
For anyone making non standard mft's these from Axminster are useful UJK Parf Aluminium Revision Dogs (3)

I think the 20mm MFT style tops are only of use if made precisely, any errors just magnify over length so you need accuracy. I use the matchfit system for a tall fence for the router table, my mitre saw fence and along with 20mm dogs a tall apron on one side of my workbench. Also very handy for making jigs, all you need is some offcuts and a 14° dovetale cutter and away you go.
Not the most exciting update and excuse the mess, but I've made a start. The top is sort of a torsion box design which I can attach to the cabinet later once that's done. I say sort of a torsion box, unless someone can convince me otherwise there's no bottom to it, I figured the cabinet will eventually do that job!

Made from birch plywood I had left over from a job last year. Spectric's matchfit idea got me thinking about cutting a t-slot on the front and back aprons, I used a keyhole router bit to cut this which worked surprisingly well. My guide rail clamps fit nicely as you can see from the photo, and the slot is strong enough that I can lift the table top from that one clamp! This will be handy for attaching a rail hinge later and also edge clamping. I haven't decided yet if I'll cut any into the top, I've always been happy just with dog holes in the past but it's certainly an option.
Not sure if it's of any use to you but TSO products provides downloadable files of various sized MFT style tops. Download the file of the size you want and take it to a CNC shop for them to machine for you.
I had a 53" x 29" top cut from 3/4" MDF for $150CDN. Best money I ever spent.
Thanks DavidR8 I'll file that tip away for the future - if my plan to use my existing top as a template doesn't work out I might need to source something elsewhere!

I had a few spare hours this afternoon so I've made some progress, it's all a bit of a bodge because I'm trying to use up what I have rather than buying anything! I didn't have anything big enough for a solid bottom so it's a frame dominoed and screwed together, but seems rigid enough. The right cubby has a 6mm plywood shelf screwed to the bottom frame for the vacuum to sit on, the left two cubbies will have drawers so no need for a solid base. I'm hoping the 12mm dividers will be enough to screw drawer slides to! 🤞


I need to work out exactly what arrangement of drawers I'll go with - I've seen some with one very long drawer accessed from the front, others use two smaller drawer accessed front and back. I'm leaning towards the former as it would be a hassle to turn the bench around to access tools when it's parked against the wall. I reckon with 700mm drawer slides I should be able to fit two systainers one in front of the other and be able to open both without having to lift them out. That would leave an approx 100mm void behind that could be used for... Something!
Slightly more exciting update today. My wife tends to look very bored when I start talking about "MFTs" and "systainers" and all these boring things, so this workbench is affectionately known as the "holey rolley table". Get it? It's on wheels and has holes in the top. Anyway, I returned to the house this evening and proclaimed that it is now both holey and rolley! 🥳

My original plan was to use the existing MFT top as a template by clamping it on top, then drilling 18mm holes and finishing off with a top bearing flush trim bit in the router. However, I decided today that it doesn't need to be totally perfect as I'm only really planning to use the holes for clamping, not cutting. So I checked my 20mm forstener bit in a scrap and it's the perfect size for my dogs, so I cut out a few steps and went straight in with that.


After some careful measuring and alignment, I clamped down the old MFT top and drilled the first two holes in the corners. I then put a couple of dogs in to help prevent any movement - these felt tight going through two layers!


After a good hour or so of mind numbing boredom I could move the top along, line it up with some dogs and clamps, and drill the last holes. I now have a grid of 8x12 holes instead of the standard 7x11.

Of course using this method you need to be fairly confident you can hold a drill straight ish, as a forstener bit doesn't give you a lot of surface to reference against the template. I suspect some of my holes aren't dead plumb but that's something I can live with.

As a test though, I set up my fence and guide rail - even though I don't plan to use the rail dogs in future, this was more out of curiosity than anything! You can see it's as square as it reasonably needs to be, so if my plan to make Peter Millard's ply rail hinge doesn't work out I can carry on using the rail dogs in the mean time.

I finished off the holes with the UJK reamer and chamfer tool, which unfortunately gave a little tear out on the ply but that's something I can live with on a workbench. I also gave the top a coat of wax which should help prevent glue sticking to it in future 🤞

None of these photos show the casters, but they're just standard locking casters, pinched from the old bench.

Next job is to decide on the drawers and make/fit them. Hopefully I can get that all finished off in the next week or so.
I said this would be a bit of a slow burner and I wasn't wrong! I've made the drawers now, which ended up being a bit of a bodge because of poor planning! Basically I had allowed space for the systainers but not the drawer slides, so I had to make a sort of upside down drawer so the systainers can sit on top of the drawer slides. Not the end of the world but wastes a little space that might have been useful!

So here's the overview so far, looks pretty tidy on the outside! The inside gets a little rough, using a mix of chipboard from an old wardrobe and rubbish plywood from a crate, but I don't really care how it looks as long as it does the job.

Top left drawer holds dogs and clamps so they're always ready to hand. There's still loads of room in the back of this drawer so I'll find something to go there one day.

Having used 700mm drawer slides, I have space for two systainers with room to open both easily. I've ordered some kaizen foam so I can organise the boxes a little better one day.

The t-loc systainers are just sat between strips of 6mm plywood, this is enough to stop them moving but they're still easy to remove when needed.

The Makita cases sit in simple cut outs that hold the feet nicely. I had planned to do the same for the t-locs, but after faffing around for ages to get these right I decided it wasn't worth the hassle!

If I get any free time in the next week I'll have a go at making the rail hinge, but I suspect that'll get pushed back because I've got a few projects coming up that'll take priority.