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View BradO's profile

Help a newbie learn and design a workbench - Lots of pictures

by BradO
posted 01-08-2014 04:42 PM


22 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8551 posts in 4157 days


#1 posted 01-08-2014 04:50 PM

if all joints are glued, this will be as strong if not stronger than if you had used hardware instead for the joints.

that said, it seems a bit of an overkill construction for what it appears to be, but an pretty cool design otherwise. if you feel comfortable building it – I see no reason why you shouldn’t. I don’t think the legs would be ‘weak’ for this size of an overall bench given everything else included as long as the joints are tight.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View BPatterson's profile

BPatterson

43 posts in 2109 days


#2 posted 01-08-2014 07:46 PM

I think it looks like a really solid design. The only thing I might change is look into buying levelers to put into the bottoms of the legs instead of trying to cut them at different lengths and some on an angle.

Post some pics when you get started! :)

-- Brandon ~ Aim Small, Miss Small

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

2901 posts in 3023 days


#3 posted 01-08-2014 08:30 PM

The only thing I would think of changing is the sacrificial MDF. I used to use it, and went away from it due to loss of the pressed film top so easily by hardened glue, dropped clamps, etc. I ended up changing it too often and went to five ply 3/4” plywood, which I can scrape often and it still stays.
Otherwise, it looks like a very strong design that will only improve your talents with something you can learn in private on.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View RockyTopScott's profile

RockyTopScott

1186 posts in 3987 days


#4 posted 01-08-2014 08:40 PM

I would consider leg levelers.

I use carriage bolts and t nuts for this type of leg and dip the end of the carriage bolt in Plastidip. Works well.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View cml's profile

cml

1 post in 2108 days


#5 posted 01-08-2014 09:58 PM

I built a workbench a few years ago that I have been very pleased with. Features that your design omits (perhaps for good reason?) are under-bench storage and at least one vice. If you want detailed pics of my bench for ideas, let me know.

-- cml

View BradO's profile

BradO

7 posts in 2108 days


#6 posted 01-09-2014 12:19 AM

Purp: Glad to hear you think it would be strong enough with only glue. It would be really nice to be able to say there is no hardware on the entire piece. I agree on it being overkill. I’m focused on skill building so the extra joints and types of wood are intentional. I’ll have to do a few practice joints to make sure I get them really tight. The only woodworking related tool I have at the moment is a drill/driver. I can borrow a circular saw and jig saw for this project. What would be the next tool I’d have to reach for to get this project done?

BPatterson: Looks like the levelers are a common theme. Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll certainly post pics as I go. with how LJ is designed, is that best done as a blog or should I continue this thread?

Tennessee: I hope the tempered hardboard top will be enough of a sacrificial top that’s easy to deal with. Do you think that will do the job? Glad to hear you think it looks strong. I took a good amount of time on it.

Rocky: Great idea. I’m familiar with what a t nut is but where would you put them on these legs?

cml: Are you referring to something other than a shelf underneath? Something with drawers perhaps? I certainly want to add a vice. I’m thinking of adding a woodworking vise to the right side and then build mobile bases for my other bench top tools to get clamped in.

Thanks everyone for the help so far. I am curious to hear what others think.

View cutworm's profile

cutworm

1075 posts in 3302 days


#7 posted 01-09-2014 01:14 AM

Hey Brad,
I started with something similar but ended up building a new bench. You really need to be able to access all sides of your bench so you want it away from walls. It nice to clamp panels or boards from any side of the bench so avoid backsplashes if you can.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30441 posts in 2847 days


#8 posted 01-09-2014 01:24 AM

No 2 benches are alike. Your bench must serve your needs and be comfortable for you to work at. There are numerous designs available to you. Like any other tool, what will you be building? Small stuff, big stuff, power tools, hand tools, etc. All things to consider.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View RockyTopScott's profile

RockyTopScott

1186 posts in 3987 days


#9 posted 01-09-2014 01:29 AM

The tnut would fit into a hole drilled into the end deep enough to accommodate the carriage bolt. This is a pic of legs I made for a miter saw stand I am working on.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8551 posts in 4157 days


#10 posted 01-09-2014 01:31 AM

you’ll want some clamps, a good combination square, and a long straight edge/guide for the circular saw.

you can gang all those cross brackets together with some clamps, then using a straight-guide gang cut all those notches in a single cut with a circular saw to make sure they are all the same dimensions. (or use a table saw with a cross cut fence and stops).

I would also recommend getting a nice block plane and sharpening supplies to touch up and chamfer all those edges for a more refined look and smoother touch.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View fuigb's profile

fuigb

563 posts in 3466 days


#11 posted 01-09-2014 01:39 AM

“Next tool”? A square! You’re going to play hell trying to work off of that plan with almost no tools and a goal of tight joints. Maybe start with a smaller, even simpler version of your plan and thereby discover what you’re missing to pull this off. If this were my project I’d be using a jointer, planes, chisels, table saw, dado blades, etc. You get my the idea: a pile of crap that you don’t yet have. I don’t want to discourage you, so that less-ambitious version that I mentionedi s a great pplace to start because it will reveal what you’re lacking and thus help you to formulate a wish list.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

553 posts in 3507 days


#12 posted 01-09-2014 01:52 AM

Hey Brad,

Just some random thoughts:

1. Levelers are the way to go. I think that it highly unlikely that you would get the cut for all the legs correct (I know I wouldn’t be able to).

2. Why the aversion to fasteners? There is often a place for everything and this appears to be it.

3. Without knowing the dimensions the bench looks massive. When you move out of your current home, how are you going to move it? Will you be able to dissamble it into major components? Fasteners can permit this to some degree.

4. Where are you going to put your woodworking vise?

5. Most of the joints are well thought out and you shouldn’t have any problems. You might want to reevaluate the joint with the dowels though. You will get very little strength from gluing end grain to long grain, so that joint will be completely reliant on the dowel. Mortise and tennon would be far superior, though more work. If mortise and tennon joints are not going to happen, you mught consider using more than one dowel—3 or possibly 4 dowels. With only one dowel there is nothing to prevent the cross member from spinning.

6. You might want to consider getting rid of the inside corner leg. I’m interpreting your original post that the main bench will be six feet long and the side wing will be 2 feet long. It’s big, but not so massive that the structure couldn’t handle it.

7. If you are going to use dimensional lumber (2×4, 26, etc.) keep in mind that big box lumber is very wet and will twist and turn more than a politician under oath.

8. There is a great workbench thread here on LJ you might peruse.

Good luck and post pictures.

Greg

View RockyTopScott's profile

RockyTopScott

1186 posts in 3987 days


#13 posted 01-09-2014 01:56 AM

In thinking about what Greg just said I might build two benches that i could reconfigure as needed.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2870 days


#14 posted 01-09-2014 02:17 AM

You’re on the right track, but keep it simple. Here’s one I recently made of 4×4, 2×6, 2×4, 3/4 ply, and particle board. Note the top is just 2×6’s on the flat spanning the 2×6 frame, with ply screwed onto that. Also, work benches don’t care about coolness, so use screws and lags to join things.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View BradO's profile

BradO

7 posts in 2108 days


#15 posted 01-09-2014 01:09 PM

Wow, great comments from everyone. Thanks so much. What I’m taking away from this is that I had fun designing but the practicality of it is a little far fetched. I may lose some pieces and adjust others. I’ll come up with a new sketch to see what you all think.

CutWorm: I’d like to be able to have a bench in the middle of the garage but we use that bay frequently and it needs to fit in the corner. I’m thinking something like a make shift bench with saw horses if I need something larger in the middle of the garage. Something easy to dismantle.

Scott: Thanks for the detail

Purp: Great tip! I’ll try that.

fuigb: Ya, I’m with you. Sounds like with all the wet wood, getting tight joints without fasteners is a pipe dream. I may have to go with hardware.

Greg: Thanks so much for this. I agree on every point. I’ll hit them one at a time.
1: Looks like Levelers are the way I’m going. Do you have any suggestions on ones to try?
2: I mostly just wanted to go all wood and glue for the learning experience and to be able to say if was held together without hardware. I think with the wet wood moving around and the dowel problem, I’ll have to get over that idea.
3: I like to think that I’ll never move from this house but that’s always possible. I’ll rethink it.
4: I plan to put it on the 12” overhang on the right. Would that work?
5: I’m with you. I think two lag bolts per side will be in my next sketch. Let me know what you think.
6: I guess that would be possible. Since I’m bolting the rear stretchers to the studs, I guess I may even be able to lose the back legs. Is that taking it too far though?
7: Good point. All the more reason to use fasteners, right?
8: Oh yes, I’ve spent a while looking at that. Such good stuff there.

Clint: Nice looking bench. I’m going to throw in some fasteners and try to simplify things a bit.

Thanks again to all of you for taking a look. I’m going to draw up a new sketch soon and I’m very curious to get your thoughts on the amended version.

-Brad

View BPatterson's profile

BPatterson

43 posts in 2109 days


#16 posted 01-09-2014 02:30 PM

A bit pricey, but something like this could be a good answer for leveling and being able to move the benches if needed.

http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2021166/25291/WoodRiver-Machine-Leveling-Caster-Plate-Mounted-4-Pack.aspx

-- Brandon ~ Aim Small, Miss Small

View cutworm's profile

cutworm

1075 posts in 3302 days


#17 posted 01-09-2014 06:14 PM

I bought some casters at Rockler for my bench to roll in and out as needed. They cost more than the bench…

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

5540 posts in 2860 days


#18 posted 01-09-2014 06:34 PM

Your design is no doubt strong and and adequate for home repair type of use. If you plan on getting into wood working I would make some changes. Think about woodworking vises, there a myriad of types and each has some specific requirements in bench design, ie. leg vise, twin screw, wagon vise. Another point is having the legs flush w/ the top. This adds to your ability to clamp things to front of the bench to work on the edges of boards, it will also increase the amount of storage space underneath.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View BradO's profile

BradO

7 posts in 2108 days


#19 posted 01-09-2014 09:27 PM

OK. Back for more. Let me know your thoughts now.

see bigger here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dadowens/11860940466/


see bigger here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dadowens/11860553164/

My biggest question now is since I’ve moved to hardware instead of glue, what do I do with the half lapped stretchers?

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

17960 posts in 3515 days


#20 posted 01-09-2014 09:43 PM

Brad – are you left handed or right handed? I ask because the position of your vice is set up for a lefty. I made the mistake of installing my quick release vice in the middle of a square bench and it sucks. My bench also sucks coincidentally. Im always walking into it or it doesn’t support longer pieces the way that it should. Id relocate it to the complete opposite end of the bench if you are in fact a righty.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

5715 posts in 3752 days


#21 posted 01-09-2014 10:30 PM

Your design looks fine. The only comment I have is; don’t bother notching the 2×4’s for the cross 2×4’s. It won’t make the bench any stronger. In fact, you are weakening the long 2×4’s with all those notches. A couple of 12d nails will be adequate.

View BradO's profile

BradO

7 posts in 2108 days


#22 posted 01-10-2014 02:00 PM

Chrisstef: I am indeed a righty. I see the merits of putting the vise on the other side. I’m going to have to do some more thinking about the rest of the garage though because there is now a hanging bike rack immediately to the left of where this bench would be. Any piece I hang to the left will be into a bike tire.

MrRon: I may just butt joint them. I’m going to have my hands full just chiseling the legs.

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