Moravian workbench build

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28 Aug 2016
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My workbench is more of an assembly table and for a while I've wanted something that could take a bit of a hammering to complement it.

I've had a few days off over Christmas and realised it was an ideal chance to build something. Google introduced me to a Moravian style which looked quick and easy to make and should fit the bill, also love the story behind it, the design is basically copied from a bench found in somebody's shed in 1766! Since it was a bit of a last minute idea I have used wood that I already had so there are a few compromises, for example I would have liked the legs to be a bit thicker but sure they will be fine.

Not a WIP, I was so engrossed in the build I didn't take many photos :rolleyes:

Glued some 6x3s together for the top, it's going to be 7' long but looks longer in the photo!

Bench Build 1.jpg

Used some bits I have been using as skids for the cross rails, looked like Beech once it was planed up!

Bench Build 2.jpg

Don't use my mortiser as much these days but it's handy when needed, a bit of cheating here on the angled mortises.

Bench Build 3.jpg

This is where I'm at now

Bench Build 4.jpg

and with the top laid on

Bench Build 5.jpg

Original plan was to have a tool well at the back but I'm thinking it will just get full of junk and shavings, the other option is to glue up a bit more 6x3 and make it a split top, any thoughts or opinions? The bench is going against a wall (hand tools on the wall above it) and will have a vice attached to the front if that makes any difference.
Looking good Doug, my thoughts on the top are:-
Split top, well tools will be on the wall behind so that leaves the main reason for a split top, the planing stick. If you aren’t bothered about a stick you can still have the top in two pieces, or one big unwieldy? one. But as you won’t be working/hammering on the back half it could just be infilled with ply or something maybe.
Plenty of opinions on tool wells and split tops every time the questions get asked. My first bench had a well and unless you are very disciplined it gets filled up with c#@p. My current final bench, while not Moravian is knock down and split top. Both great features. I can happily get by without the well but am hooked on the split top. It will also make the knock down and set up process easier to do single handed. Another plus for split top is you can put the top through a thicknesser.
Well that's the decision made I'm going split top, unfortunately I don't have enough 3" timber to make another slab yet so until I get some more it will be a half top 🤣

Got a bit more time on it today so I started with the wedges. I had a bit of half rotten timber of unknow origin with a bit of spalting in, thought this was a good chance to use it up and make a feature of the what are normally mundane wedges.

Bench Build 6.jpg

Turned out well

Bench Build 7.jpg

Next job was fitting the vise. I have been saving an old Parkinsons Perfect 15 which I think will be.........perfect!

Bench Build 8.jpg

It has some ribs on the back which made fitting it a bit awkward

Bench Build 9.jpg

Needed to make some new jaws for it, I used a bit of reclaimed Oak mantle shelf. How fashions change.......

Bench Build 11.jpg

They are not actually fixed yet but you get the idea

Bench Build 12.jpg
I've been motivating myself to build a Moravian work bench for a coupleofmonths. I don't have timber lying around and will need to buy it all. A tip I've picked up from YouTube recently is to buy 10" or 12" by 2" and rip it down to size. Any thoughts?
A question on your build; I want to fit a similar vice and was debating whether to locate it inside or outside the legs. Do you have an argument to why yours is outside?
Were you tempted to mount the fixed jaw of the vice flush? I like having mine flush as I can hold longer pieces against the side of the bench when required.
Were you tempted to mount the fixed jaw of the vice flush? I like having mine flush as I can hold longer pieces against the side of the bench when required.

I did think about trying it as I've never had a vice mounted flush and know some people swear by them. I can see in certain situations it would be an advantage but I decided to stick with what I'm used to as it's always worked for me.

I'm tempted to start a vice fitting thread, I reckon it would go the same way as a sharpening thread 🤔 🤣
A vice fitting thread would be good and I am sure gentlemen like ourselves would keep the discussions polite.
Over the years I have had the vice mounted proud (because thats easier to do) and flush. I will be staying with flush as it makes handling longer boards so much easier.
You’ve done it now Doug!
I have always buried the back jaw into a long mortise in the underside of the bench top, the mortise stops 1/2” below the surface so the front jaw is 1/2” below as well, this is just right when the outer jaw wooden face is fitted to be level with the bench top. I don’t think Iwould like a sticking out back jaw, particularly when planing very long piece of wood, I have dog holes level with the vice bars just for this situation.
I have always had my vices mounted flush.
For anybody not sure, If you start with it flush and dont like it you can always add a back jaw pad later (but you would lose 15 to 20mm of opening capacity which is not really an issue with bigger vices
A tip I've picked up from YouTube recently is to buy 10" or 12" by 2" and rip it down to size. Any thoughts?
That is what I would do. That way you can decide how thick to make your bench top (I would suggest 3")
One other tip when gluing the strips together is to try and get the grain all running in the same direction so when you are planing to flatten the top you can do this with less tear out issues

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