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Canadian Woodworking

Top 10 workbench accessories

Workbenches are the focal point of many workshops, but they don’t work alone. Accessories make a workbench more efficient, useful, accurate and enjoyable.

1. Face Vise – Maybe it’s assumed that a workbench will have a vise on it, but I’ve added it just in case yours doesn’t. Easily the most important accessory to a workbench, a vise will help out in many ways. I added two face vises to the front of my bench, but some prefer just one. This approach will leave room for a tail vise, typically at the right end of the bench.

2. Tail Vise – A tail vise is positioned at the end of a bench. It’s very similar to a face vise, but it holds a workpiece in a slightly different way. It’s also regularly used to secure a workpiece on top of a bench, with the use of bench dogs.

3. Bench Dog – A bench dog can be store-bought or shop-made. Usually round, but sometimes rectangular, a bench dog can be positioned in any one of the holes in the top of your bench to offer a surface to clamp a workpiece against. A second bench dog can be used in a vise to provide the clamping power.

4. Handsaw Hook – A bench hook will help you make 90° and 45° cuts, not to mention any other cuts you’d like to make a hook for. These are very simple bench accessories and are generally shop-made. A base, with a fence attached to the top of the base, along with a block on the underside to help secure the base while cutting, is all you really need. I secure this jig in my face vise, though other hooks will reference off the front edge of your bench.

5. Planing Stop – Purchase or made, a planing stop can be inserted into the bench dog holes on your bench and used to give you a stop to plane against. Once you have one you’ll likely realize there are many tasks these stops can help you out with.

6. Veritas Inset Vise – This type of vise can be added to any bench that’s at least 1-1/4″ thick. It works with existing bench dog holes to secure workpieces on top of your benchtop. I installed a Veritas inset vise on my bench and I strongly recommend one.

7. Moxon Vise – A moxon vise will assist you when you’re using hand tools to work with smaller workpieces. It will allow you to bring the workpiece to a more helpful height and do a great job at securing it for cutting, planing, paring and so on.

8. Adjustable Light – A bench is just about useless with­out proper lighting. Even if you have your bench right in front of a window, an adjustable light will allow you to direct light towards where you’re working even if it’s dark outside.

9. V-Groove Holder Jig – This jig will help secure round or odd-shaped workpieces so they can be worked on. I also use this jig to hold work that I’m chamfering. I secure this jig in my face vise, but there’s nothing wrong with making one that can be inserted into a couple of bench dog holes or be secured with a tail vise.

10. Belt Sanding Stop for Vise – Although I mainly use this stop for belt sanding workpieces, it also has other uses. It’s simple to make by fixing a block to the underside of the base. The block gets secured in place with a face vise and the base can be used as a stop.


Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches

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