This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
Several forms of bench which can be purchased ready made have been already described (pp. 257-9); but a home-made bench is much less expensive and affords good practice in joinery, accurate work being necessary, while the materials are not too delicate. Good sound deal is a suitable wood to use, and the dimensions must depend on circumstances. Figs. 566, 567, 568 represent a bench described by a contributor to Amateur Work; the dimensions refer to the rough unplaned wood, which must all be planed up with the least possible waste. The legs a are 4 1/2 in. by 2 1/2 in.; the side ties b, 1 in. thick, are let into the legs 3/4 in., and the legs are let into the ties 1/4 in., and both are screwed together by stout 2-in. screws placed so as not to interfere with each other. The top c is at least 1 12-2 in. thick, and made up of two pieces, which are caused to lie close by the following means. When the frame (legs and ties) has been made quite firm and even, the two 11-in. boards to form the top are planed smooth and true along the edges that are to meet; the outer edge of the board d is screwed securely to the frame, and wedges are put under its inner edge to force it up about 1/2 in. from the frame; while in this position the other board e is thrust as tightly as possible against d and has its outer edge screwed down in a similar manner while its inner edge is raised 1/2 in.
The 2 boards thus form a table with a ridge along the centre, whilst an angular trough separates the inner edges of the boards. In this trough hot glue is applied, the wedges are withdrawn, and the boards are gently pressed down quite flat and secured by screws and heavy weights, the latter being removed when the glue has set. This plan avoids the necessity for a powerful clamp. The chop / of the old-fashioned wooden bench-vice is made of beech or oak, 2 in. thick and 8 in. wide, and reaches to the lower edge of the bottom side tie. The screw g passes through the chop / and the top side tie, at the back of which the nut should be screwed. In the neck of the screw is a groove for the reception of a thin slip of hard wood h, to be mortised through the side of the chop, and cut into shape to fit half round the neck of the screw and into the groove, serving to pull the chop outwards. The chop is also furnished with a guide bar i, about 2 in. sq., mortised into it, and sliding in a guide box or channel provided for it; the angles of the guide bar may be planed off to ease its movements. The stop k consists of a couple of wedges let right through the bed of the bench. The bottom ties may support a table of 1/2-in. boards, convenient for holding tools temporarily.
The cost of the complete bench is estimated not to exceed 20s.; say wood 15s., bench-screw 2s., screws, glue, stop, etc, 3s. Obviously the various etceteras of more perfect benches can be added if desired; and there is scarcely any limit to the uses which may be made of the open spaces under the bed of the bench, as situations for drawers, cupboards, tool-racks, or even for a treadle to work a small bench grindstone, circular or band saw, lathe, or other contrivance finding a suitable foundation on the firm frame of the bench.