Shop #4: Bench Legs, Stretcher Questions and Lumber Rack

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Blog entry by Big Ben posted 01-19-2011 01:20 AM 2265 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Workbench Part 4 of Shop series Part 5: Completed Workbench »

I have not had much shop time but I have glued up and pegged the legs. The pegs worked well and the joint as very tight. But I do have some questions on the stretcher, currently I have the two stretchers at 2 5/8” Wide x 3” High x 48” Long. My question that size (2 5/8” x 3”) sufficient to hold the following:

Drill Press
Shop Vac

Would it be better to use planks that are 1.5” thick or 3/4” plywood?

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Also I had to get my lumber pile out of the family room floor, so I finally installed at a lumber rack.

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5 comments so far

View Greg's profile


33 posts in 3197 days

#1 posted 01-19-2011 02:14 AM

The 3” high stretcher would probably be sufficeint given the short span of the shelf. However, I’d lean towards a stretcher that is taller. Something to keep in mind is that making the stretcher taller adds more load carrying capacity than making the stretchers wider. Generally, doubling the height of the stretcher will increase the load carrying capacity by a factor of four whereas doubling the width will increase the capacity by a factor of two. I would select a nominal 2×6 for the stretchers for the following reasons: 1. I hate saying “I wish I had made it bigger” 2. The larger dimension fits the look (stoutness) of the rest of the workbench.
Good luck.

-- Greg - For the benefit and enjoyment of the people

View swirt's profile


4216 posts in 3477 days

#2 posted 01-19-2011 05:03 AM

I agree with Greg. Try to go with a taller stretcher if you can.

Regarding the planks or plywood…. I’d go with the planks only because it would fit with the style of the bench better… but I am quirky like that.

-- Galootish log blog,

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 3386 days

#3 posted 01-19-2011 05:13 AM

I’d go with the 3/4” ply as well. It’s a bench and bound to get banged on. Also, it’s very strong, as long as it is supported well.

Just curious, why put the shop vac and the air compressor on the bench? Typically, they are on the floor. They have hoses that ‘go’ where you need them.

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View Big Ben's profile

Big Ben

87 posts in 3396 days

#4 posted 01-19-2011 05:22 AM

Ron, the compressor and shop vac would go under the bench on the lower shelving. And did you mean plywood or planks?

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 3386 days

#5 posted 01-20-2011 02:06 AM

ply = plywood.

But it depends on what you are going to use it for. If for the planer and drill press, I’d use ply. It’s a table then.

If you plan to bang on it with hammers etc. then I find the best kind of bench is one where you cut the planks – 1.5” thick and glue and clamp them together – like this IIIIIIIIIII. A lot of the benches folks make here are like that. Mine is like that, but it’s made out of maple. Very hard. Takes a beating and lasts a long time.

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

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