WT358 – Workbench Tops and Deadmen

On today’s weekend show, we’re taking 2 questions on workbenches: top material and the effectiveness of the deadman

What Are We Talking About

Jeremy said…

Knowing the range of the types of projects the 3 of you typically do, I am wondering how useful actually is the deadman on a shaker/roubo bench? I am sure this mostly depends on how much edge jointing you do, but how much do each of you actually find it useful?

and this question from Kris

I know that hard maple would be a top-choice for a bench top. However, if money doesn’t permit, what are the downsides to using douglas fir (2x4s, 2x6s, etc) for a work bench?

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10 replies on “WT358 – Workbench Tops and Deadmen”


Just finished listening to the show and I felt I had to comment. I have to disagree with Marc (somewhat). I built my bench primarily out of Douglas Fir and have found it to be very stable. I live in the Pacific Northwest, the land of the Douglas Fir, so I did not use construction lumber. I found a local guy who felled the tree for me and milled it into lumber to my specifications. I dried it in my shop for about 18 months before starting the build and I suspect that air drying the lumber as opposed to kiln drying helped with the stability.

The workbench took me 13 months to build and you can see it here if you would like:


I do agree with Shannon about the hardness of Doug Fir. Those late growth rings really chew up chisels when trying to chop mortises. Thanks for the show guys, I really enjoy it.

All the best,


What’s with the drop in episode number? Have you peaked and now winding down? Will there only be 355 more episodes to go? Tired minds want to know??

Shannon, you do a great job of reading out loud on the air. You go slowly and smoothly, pausing and stopping at all commas and periods. Your tone rises and falls like normal conversational speech. It really helps listeners comprehend the underlying questions, which in turn, makes the answers and commentary all the more meaningful and entertaining. Keep up the great work!

Hey Guys,
Talking about Benches, if you had just one 7″ vice where would you put it? On the long edge or at the end so you could also use it as a tail vice. This will be my first work bench I only do small projects nothing larger the a toy box and so far I have never used a vice. Just clamps and boards screwed to a table top.
Thanks guys from your Aussie follower.

I built a split top Roubo using doug fir construction lumber, and it turned out great. I chose it for cost and that the bench was at the limits of my skill, and I didn’t want to ruin really nice wood.
– 12 boards, 2×12 10 ft. long
– let dry stickered in my garage for 1 year (Warm/dry California)
– 12″ boards allowed me to find/cut good 4.5″ widths for a finished 4″ top
– Remaining pieces used to glue up leg pieces
– $200

I’ve been very happy with it.

Shannon, I would like to ask you about the dust right expandable hose & slip on end connections. How well do they work? My garage is my workshop which my wife feels she should park in for some silly reason so my tools all move around. I was thinking about putting the dust collector in the corner and then would not have to move the dust collector just the planer or jointer. This would leave be 15 to 20 feet to my planer or jointer.

I believe I saw that you had the used this in the past.

Ken Miller

While listening to Matt explain why he chose his current sawmill setup I came up with the most wonderful hashtag to go along with his others. #mattlovescrotch, and #fromona have been some of my favorites from his Instagram feed. I would like to suggest that he start using #partyinthefrontsawmillintheback. Love the content, as always. Keep up the good work.

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