Jake AppleI make stuff. Mostly out of wood, sometimes pixels.

Nicholson Bench - Mostly Required Readings

If you want to build your first workbench, and are considering a knockdown Nicholson, this is what I’d give to you as required reading/viewing.


The Naked Woodworker (optional)

Build Series on Lost Art Press

Misc (optional)

Bench Dimensions

Let’s get right to it. Here are the final dimensions:

Length: 7’ Depth: 22 1/8” (which includes a 3/4” split) Height: 33 1/4”

It fits me quite well, but I got lucky. I knew I needed to design the workbench around the primary user (me), but I had no idea how to do that. I hoped to find someone who was roughly my height (6’2”) and copy what they had done. After all, imitation is how we being the learning process.

What follows is how I settled on each of the key dimensions (length, depth, and height).


In my research about workbenches, I came across this article. Among the many things I gleaned was this:

I’ve made tops that are 8′ long. My next bench will be a 10-footer, the maximum that will fit in my shop. It is difficult to make or imagine a workbench that is too long.

I didn’t want to be caught with a measly 6’ foot bench and an 8’ project. So I measured my garage width, and estimated the available floor space along the garage’s length. I figured I could only fit a 7 foot bench. Oh well, it’s longer than 6. Looking back on it, I’m glad I only went with 7’. If I went with something much longer it might negate the benefits of the knockdown feature. I added the extra length to the middle of the bench, between the legs. That was an easy decision, because this random internet commenter asked a question I didn’t even know to ask!


The depth was a little trickier because I decided to do a split top. Any change I made the to the top would cascade through the rest of the bench. I was also limited by the final width of the 2x12s. Because of this, I decided to make the leg stretchers after milling the 2 top boards. All I knew was that I wanted it around 22 inches.


I read somewhere that Chris Schwarz is about 6’3”, so it was easy to just leave the bench the same height as it was in the plans. I figured that if I needed it to be taller, I could add plinths. If it were too tall, I could shorten the legs.

If I knew then what I know now…

I would’ve sized it based on the information in this video.

Split Top Nicholson Workbench

Split Top Knockdown Nicholson

I didn’t plan to build a Nicholson bench. I had every intention to build one of those beautiful split-top Roubo benches. When I got into woodworking, the Roubo was the latest cat’s meow. It looked like an intimidating thing to build, especially as my first bench.

It was about that time that I came across the Knockdown Nicholson. It was one of those, “Hey, I can build that!” moments. It was simpler in its construction, it was made of softwood rather than hardwood (cheaper!), and it would be easier to disassemble when I move one day.

I didn’t stray too far from the plans included on the Lost Art Press website, but I did make a few small modifications. I went with a split-top, and I made it 7 feet long, but it is basically the one that Schwarz built. I’ll go into more details with some highlights (and lowlights) in upcoming posts, but I wanted to get this out there in case anyone else is interested in a split top design for the top.

check out this time machine

Newer Posts Older Posts Page: 2 of 3