Fly Tying Bench

~By: Lance Dean | January 26, 2015

Fly Tying Bench

or my birthday/father’s day, I wanted a new fly tying desk because the portable desk I was using at the time wasn’t going to cut it anymore.  You see, I have four kids two of which are five and three, so every time I tied flies it required me to carry all my tying tools and materials out of my cabinet and onto my portable desk and when I was done tying, I had to carry them back to my cabinet to keep my tying things out of reach of curious hands.  This along with the fact that my materials inventory was literally growing out of their storage containers lead me to want a bigger desk that I could just lock up when I was finished tying flies.  My wife decided that a fly tying desk would be a good thing for me to get for this occasion.  

 After looking at just about every desk I could find on the internet, I found a roll-top desk in some online classifieds that I was thinking about settling on. It was going to run me about $150.00. After I spent a couple days mulling over this purchase I was about to make, I decided that a roll-top desk didn’t quite have all the features I wanted in a fly tying desk.  At this point I wrote down the features that I wanted in my fly tying desk/bench.  The list included:
  • ·         Plenty of room for storage
  • ·         A place to set up a small TV or computer monitor
  • ·         Plenty of shelves
  • ·         Needed to close
  • ·         Needed to lock
  • ·         Shop light in the top
Now a roll-top desk only covers one of the features, it did indeed close.  However, there were still five other features that were not part of the roll-top desk.  After contemplating this issue I thought “why can’t I just build a desk that will fit my needs.”  I then drew up some rough plans for the desk, but the wood for this desk was going to cost more than I wanted to pay.  So I thought about this for a couple of more days and then it accrued to me “why build a whole desk, why not just build a top for a desk.”  So I started looking through the classifieds for a desk that wasn’t going to run too much money. After talking to my wife about the issue we decided that I could use our home computer desk (which is a Better Homes and Garden Desk forum here) for the base of my fly tying desk and that we would get something else for the home computer.

So now that I had the base for my desk I could start getting serious about drawing up some plans for the top part of my desk.  As I drew up the plans, I decided that I wanted the whole at about 6’ tall.  The height of the bottom half was 31 ¼ inches tall so that left me with roughly 40 inches to play with.  I decided to make the top half the same width and depth as the desk I was using for the bottom of my fly tying bench.  The plans that I came up with are pictured below:

Fly Tying Bench Plans

Fly Tying Bench Plans

Now that I had plans for what I wanted, it was time to get a materials list written out.  After studying the plans this is the materials list that I came up with.

1 –  8’ x 4’ x ¾” Cabinet Grade Plywood
1 – 4’ x 4” x ¾” Regular Plywood
2 – 8’ x 4’ x ¼” Plywood
1 – 8’ x 4’ Pegboard
4 – 8’ x 2 ½” x ¾” Wood Boards
3 – 41” x ¾” x ¾” Scrap Pieces of Plywood
1 – Large Bottle of Wood Glue
1 Box 1 ½” Screws
2 – 36” Piano Hinges
1 – Utility Cam Lock
2 – Barrel Bolt Locks
Pegboard Pegs (However many you think you need.)
Book Case Pegs (how many depends on how many shelves you want/have. You will need four per shelf)

Fly Tying Bench Plans
Best way I found to cut plywood with least amount of waste.
After cutting all the pieces out of the wood, I began drilling the holes for the shelf pegs. To accomplish this I built a jig with a scrap piece of ply wood that measured 41 ¾ inches long and drilled holes into it, down the length of the board that were 3” apart.  I then clamped the jig to the outside sides and the inside sides of the cabinet and drilled the holes into the sides using the holes in the jig as a guide one side at a time, being careful to only drill in half the thickness of the board. My holes were lined up at one and a half inches from the back of the cabinet and fourteen inches from the back of the cabinet (two sets of holes for each board.)  I then glued the joints securing them with screws one joint at a time.  After the glue dried I sanded the cabinet down and then put a finish onto it. 
Fly Tying Bench
Bench before doors were hung.

The doors went together smoothly I used some scrap ¾” x ¾” x 41” plywood to mount the pegboard to.  The scrap plywood is necessary so that you can hang your pegs to the pegboard.

After the doors were hung and the finish dried, I mounter my shop light to the top of the cabinet.

Building this desk including all the sanding only took an afternoon.  Putting a finish on it took a couple more afternoons.  So after about three days my tying desk/bench was complete.  I love it, it has got everything that I wanted it to have.  Excluding the computer desk that I used for the bottom I think spent around one hundred and fifty dollars on this cabinet.  Not bad considering that I was about to settle on a roll top that didn’t have hardly any features that I wanted for my desk.  I am so happy that I decided to build one that has all the features I wanted in a desk.  I am so glad that I didn’t just settle on a desk to not be completely happy with it and end up buying another one.  This desk gives me the ability to tie flies while watching a movie due to the computer monitor that I installed.(Note:  In order the mount the monitor on the back of the bench you’ll need to install a section of ply wood at the back of the cabinet and purchase a wall mount for a computer monitor.  I found mine on I think I paid about thirty dollars for it.)  I am pleased with the amount of light that I get from the shop light, that is one thing that drove me nuts about tying the way I did before.  I was constantly adjusting the light so that I could see the fly.  That is no longer an issue.  I have plenty of storage.  I am aware that at some point I will need more but I think that I will be good for a while.  If needs be I can build more storage on top of this desk. 
Fly Tying Bench

Here is a video of my Fly Tying Bench:

Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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