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We Build a Sharpening Bench

July 5, 2018

The Unplugged Woodshop needs a new sharpening bench.

The new sharpening bench. Frame assembled, before paint. Shelf slats are dry fit.

There are two sharpening benches at the ‘shop already. Tom has one in his studio.  The other one was built for the students early on at the school. The school sharpening bench was built to fit under one of the windows. As the school has grown, and as the furniture has been rearranged, that student sharpening bench has been outgrown.  So we need to build a new sharpening bench.


He have a piece of reclaimed kitchen counter top which will provide a durable, flat, and waterproof surface. Tom has drawn a sketch with dimensions. Justin picked up some construction lumber for the carcase. So we’re ready to go, on a quick bench build.

The bench is a simple shop bench and the goal is “functionality.”  Joinery is limited to butt joints, with the occasional glued assembly to simulate a half-lap joint.  Glued doublers build out the legs, and flat head wood screws hold everything together.



Build a Sharpening Bench.

Start with the leg trestles.  Cross cut 2×6 stock for the legs. Use a block plane to clean up the ends of the stock, with a moderate chamfer.  (I added this chamfer to each piece as I cut it from the stock.)

The legs are the only pieces with “joinery” cut into them.  Measure, mark and cross cut the locations for the upper and lower stretchers. Rip cut the waste from the upper stretcher lap joint.  Chisel the waste from the lower stretcher lap joint.

Cross cut 2×6 stock for the upper and lower leg doublers. Remember that two of the legs are mirrored with respect to the others. Mark the locations for the doublers on the legs, and be sure to build two legs “left handed” and two legs “right handed.” Glue and screw the doublers to the legs.  (I planed a few shavings from one edge of a doubler to get a nice fit. Block plane to the rescue!)

Cross cut 2×4 stock for the upper and lower trestle stretchers.  Fit the stretchers to the legs, and screw the trestles together.  Measure and cross cut the doublers for the trestle stretchers from 2×4 stock.  Glue and screw the stretcher doublers in place.

With the trestles complete, the long stretchers are next. Cross cut the four long stretchers to length. Dry fit the trestles together with the lower stretchers. Square up each corner, and fasten with a single wood screw. Add the upper long stretchers, check for square at each corner, and fasten with the full complement of wood screws.  Then complete the lower stretcher joinery with the remaining wood screws.

Measure, cut and fit the long stretcher doublers from 2×4 stock.  Glue and screw the long stretcher doublers into place.  Measure, cut, and fit the mid-top brace from 2×4 stock.  Secure the mid-top brace with wood screws.

The frame for the sharpening bench is complete and ready to apply finish.  In our case, we’ll paint the legs and stretchers black, and leave the shelf as natural construction timber.  Paint.

Cut the shelf slats from 1×4 stock.  Secure the shelf slats with wood screws.

Finished Sharpening Bench


The simplified joinery provides a sturdy workbench and a quick build time.  While the tools and materials required are relatively modest.The new sharpening bench provides space for additional sharpening kits and supplies. Additionally, the counter top provides a suitable surface for flattening plane soles.

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