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Fly Tying Bench Plans: Step By Step Instructions with Images

Written by: Pete Danylewycz
Last Updated:

These fly tying bench plans are the result of many hours spent online (as some of you have done already), many conversations with fly tying friends, and probably most importantly, many fly tying classes where I was able to speak to others just like you and me about what they liked and disliked about the fly tying benches they were using.

Fly Tying Bench Plans - Getting Started

Materials List

  • *Qty 1 - Oak 24” x 11 ¼” x ¾” thick
  • *Qty 2 – Oak 24” x 3 ½” x ¾” thick
  • *Qty 4 – Oak 24” x 2 ½” x ¾” thick
  • *Qty 1 – Oak 24” x 1 ½” x ¾” thick
  • Qty 21 – 1 ¼” drywall (or other) screws
  • Qty 7 – Oakwood plugs
  • Qty 1 – 38.25" x ¼” dowel rod
  • Wood glue
  • Polyurethane 80 and 150 grit sandpaper
  • Fine steel wool

Tools Needed

  • Pipe clamps (optional)
  • Hole punch
  • Miter saw (substitute – hand saw)
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure Drill
  • Rubber mallet/hammer
  • 7/64”, 1/8” , 1/4" and 3/8” drill bit(s)
  • Paint brush Router
  • Hack saw/coping saw

*Note – These plans are designed with simplicity in mind. You can do minimal cutting by purchasing this oak, pre-cut “kit” lumber at Lowes or Home Depot. They typically stock these pre-cut widths so that the
only cutting needed is to cut some pieces to length.


(refer to photo bench001.jpg for components list)

1. Glue the large 24” x 11 ¼” piece to a 24” x 2 ½” piece to create the 24” x 13 ¾” base. Use pipe clamps if needed to hold the pieces in place until glue is dry.

2. While the glue is drying in step 1, cut 2 of the 2 ½” X 24” pieces to a length of 13” (which will become the side arms). Then cut 1 of the 24” x 3 ½” pieces into 2 pieces each with a length of 9” (which will become the supports for the side arms). Last, cut the 24” x 1 ½” piece to a length of 22 3/8”.

3. Figure out which side of the base to use as the top and turn it upside down. Mark the location of four holes to be drilled to attach the rear shelf support and three holes down the left and right sides to attach the side arm supports (as shown in photo Bench002.jpg). Use a hole punch to start the holes and pre-drill a 7/64” hole. Then use a 3/8” bit and countersink the hole slightly to accommodate the head of the drywall screw. Use photo bench002.jpg as a reference for placement of these ten holes.

4. Next, using the measurements in step 3, mark and pre-drill the holes (7/64” drill bit) on the underside of the rear shelf support and the supports for the two side arms Start the four screws along the back edge of the base. Apply a tiny bead of wood glue to the bottom of the rear edge support. Hold it in place as you drive the 4 screws in to securely fasten the
rear edge support.

5. Start the three screws along the right side for the right side arm support. Apply a tiny bead of wood glue to the bottom of the right side arm support. Hold it in place as you drive the three screws in to securely fasten the right side arm.

6. Repeat step 6 for the left side arm support.

7. Pre-drill 2 7/64” holes on the rear right and left sides of the rear shelf support. Then use a 3/8” bit and countersink the hole slightly to accommodate the head of the drywall screw. Drive two drywall screws into the left rear and right rear of the rear shelf support to securely fasten it to the left and right side arm supports.

8. Align the rear shelf across the top of the rear shelf support so that the front edge is flush forming a lip out the back side (refer to photo bench001.jpg for placement). Pre-dill 3 holes as before but this time making sure to countersink to a depth of ¼” to accommodate the wood plug. Fasten the rear shelf with 3 drywall screws.

9. Now find the joint in the base where you glued the 2 ½” piece to the 11 ¼” piece to form the base. Take the 1 ½” x 22 3/8” piece and place it on top of that joint, wedging it between the left and right side arm supports. If it fits, run a small bead of wood glue across the bottom edge and set it in place across that joint in the base. If it does not fit while dry fitting it, pull it out and sand down one of the edges until it does fit. Then glue it and put in place. This divider forms a small compartment in the rear of the base to put small objects like dubbing wax, head cement, small pliers, etc.

10. Align the left side arm across the top of the left side arm support so that the outside edge is flush forming a lip on the inside (refer to photo bench001.jpg for placement). Make sure that the side arm butts up against the rear shelf. Pre-dill 2 holes following the same procedure as in step 9. Fasten with 2 drywall screws.

11. Follow the same procedures in step 10 to attach the right side arm.

12. Sand all rough edges to your liking.

13. Take a router and round all the edges of the side arms and rear shelf. Finish sand when done. Take the dowel rod and cut it into 17 2 ¼” pieces with a hack saw or coping saw and lightly sand the top of each piece to take away the rough edges.

14. Next we’ll drill the holes on the rear shelf to set the dowels in place which will hold your spools of thread. You will stagger each one. Start at the center and make a mark in 1” from the rear side. Next, measure to the left 1 3/8” and in 1” from the front edge of the rear shelf. Then measure 1 3/8” to the left and in 1” from the rear again. Continue this until you have 9 placements including the first center point. Repeat the same to the right of the center dowel. Refer to photo bench003.jpg for proper placement. Once your marks are made, use a ¼” drill bit and drill to a depth of ¼” (hint: use a piece of masking tape on your drill bit to mark the ¼” depth). Take the dowels and tap each one in lightly using a rubber mallet or hammer so that they are each standing at a height of 2”.

15. Next mark 6 holes, each 1 ½” apart and centered down the left side arm. Refer to photo bench003.jpg for placement. Drill these holes also with a ¼” bit

16. Repeat step 17 on the right side arm except using a 1/8” drill bit instead of the ¼” bit.

17. Take 7 wood plugs and place a dab of wood glue on each one and place in the 7 screw holes in the left and right side arms and in the rear shelf

18. Do any final finish sanding.

19. Remove all dust and particles and brush on a coat of polyurethane. Allow to dry to the manufacturers specifications. Lightly sand with fine steel wool. Remove all dust again. Brush on final coat of polyurethane. Allow to dry again.

20. You’re ready to use. Finished bench should look like this:

I hope this plan works out well for you!

Don't forget to check out our buying guides for fly fishing gear:

Best Fly Rod | Best Fly Reel | Best Fly Fishing Waders | Best Fly Fishing Vests

About The Author
Pete Danylewycz
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. Whether he's casting a line in a quiet freshwater stream or battling a monster bass, fishing is his true passion.
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3 years ago

Look like great plans to follow and exactly what I was looking for....gonna start this in a few day, very excited.
Thanks Pete!!

Ivan Nippard
Ivan Nippard
3 years ago

I like the look of this I may make one for myself very soon if you tie flies as good as you are at wood working you are exceptional

Brett Jamieson
Brett Jamieson
3 years ago

your material list misses the dowels for bobbins

Reply to  Brett Jamieson
3 years ago

He list it as: 1 Qty 3' 1/4" dowel

John Jurgensen
John Jurgensen
4 years ago

Just what I was looking for. I’m going to repurpose an old sewing machine cabinet top, which appears to be mahogany wood. Should turn out awesome. Thanks!

Gregg S
Gregg S
4 years ago

Pete, thanks for taking the time to share bench turned out great.

john kruger
john kruger
4 years ago

Bravo. Nice bench and great instructions. Thanks

Dan A
Dan A
4 years ago

Thank you very much for posting these plans. After much searching of the interwebs this is virtually the only one I could find. But it turned out to be all I needed.

I built this bench top desk over the past weekend and it came out fabulous. Material list and instructions were spot on and what you didn't provide in your written instructions were easily covered with the photos.

The only note I would add is that a 36" dowel won't make 17 lengths x 2.25". I have an open hole on my thread spindle setup until I can get back to Lowe's for another dowel. 🙂

Cheers and Tight Lines,
Dan A.

4 years ago

Thanks for the simple looking plans and instruction. Can't wait to get started.

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