Workbench and Workshop Remodel Suggestions

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Forum topic by JimYoung posted 08-21-2018 10:44 PM 1272 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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431 posts in 2871 days

08-21-2018 10:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench workshop layout question


I’m getting my workshop back into shape after a boat build last year tore up a good portion of it. Here is what I’m working with:

The area is approximately 17’ x 20’, and there is a bit more around the furnace and water heater. I use the space for woodworking and building R/C airplanes. I hope to move some of the airplane storage to another space, so I don’t have to dust them so often. I have rubber flooring wherever there is not something sitting on the floor. The concrete gets pretty cold in the Michigan Winters, and the flooring helps a lot. I just upgraded to LED lighting, and have two more fixtures I can hang.

The existing workbenches are just 2×4s and MDF. Before the boat the bench was “U” shaped and projected into the center of the open space. I am seriously lacking on storage, so I found a deal on some used kitchen cabinets on craigslist and I plan to rebuild the exiting benches on the cabinets. This should reduce the clutter on the tops. I bought an extra sink base cabinet, and plan to redo my router table on top of it to help catch chips and bring it up to the same height as the rest of the workbenches.

My table saw sits on a rolling cabinet with dust collection and a fixed outfeed table. This sits ~34” high. My plan is to raise up my planner to the same height, and build a new “woodworking work bench” to match. This would allow me to easily handle materials at the same height. The outfeed table works, but I’m thinking of making it easier to remove so I have more space to move around. I’m still playing around with locations of these big machines and the other shelving I have scattered about.

The dust collector sits in the middle of the shop to handle the table saw and planner, and is plumbed to the wall for the router table. If I can move this to one side it would help, but I’m not sure if it is strong enough for all the plumbing. I do have a spindle/belt sander, so I may need a flip top cart in the future.

I’m open for suggestions on layout and other ideas.

For the new workbench, I’ve got some budget and could swing a Roubo with Benchcrafted vices. There is show at LL Johnson next month, and I can get a deal on some 8/4 Maple. This is a chunk of change, so I’m open to other suggestions for wood choices and vices. I’m not a big hand tool woodworker now, but I would like a real work bench with clamping options for some decent size projects and since space is a premium it will need to double for assembly and finishing. I hope to acquire more hand tools as money allows, but I’m pretty efficient with what I have. I hope that this will be the first and last workbench I build, so I don’t mind investing in good materials and hardware. I’d like to hear what others have to say, and if the Benchcrafted vices are really worth the money, or if there are other options that I should consider.

Sorry for the novel, and thanks for reading and your comments.

-- -Jim, "Nothing says poor craftsmanship more than wrinkles in your duck tape"

6 replies so far

View James E McIntyre's profile

James E McIntyre

1567 posts in 2576 days

#1 posted 08-22-2018 08:18 PM

Jim. About 3 years ago when I first started fine woodworking. I built a bench. Bottom was made from true 4×4” Douglas fur. The top is made from a 2 1/4” x 60” maple bench top I ordered from You can order different sizes. The side vice is a Jorgensen #4X07 I bought from their #13F40.07.
I bought the tail vice from Highland Looking Back I should have used the the Jorgensen also as the tail vice. It doesn’t rack like the Other style. I’ll try to add some photos here. Hope this helps as another option.

-- James E McIntyre

View AandCstyle's profile


3306 posts in 3541 days

#2 posted 08-22-2018 08:38 PM

Hey, Jim, Grizzly has a facility for doing shop layout. It is handy because they have icons for the various machines (You will have to approximate which of theirs match up best with yours.) and adding benches, door and window locations, etc. You know your work flow best so you should be able to develop a layout that best meets your needs.

Re the bench, just be certain that the height is sized to you since you intend to use hand tools. HTH

-- Art

View fivecodys's profile


1764 posts in 2920 days

#3 posted 08-22-2018 08:44 PM

I want to see a picture of that boat! :)

-- A bad day woodworking is still better than a good day working.

View JimYoung's profile


431 posts in 2871 days

#4 posted 08-22-2018 11:39 PM

Thanks for the tips, guys.

@James, looksl like a nice bench on a budget. I’ll look into those vices

@Art, 34” is on the upper edge of bench height for me according to the articles and books I’ve read. It is mostly being driven by the height of my table saw, and I’m comfortable working at that height.

@five, check out my project page. The halfway and completed boat are posted along with a link to my build log on the Glen-L forums.


-- -Jim, "Nothing says poor craftsmanship more than wrinkles in your duck tape"

View James E McIntyre's profile

James E McIntyre

1567 posts in 2576 days

#5 posted 08-23-2018 05:08 AM

Jim. That’s a great idea about having your workbench the same height as your table saw for out feed.
I made mine slightly lower than my table saw. With your skill I’m sure it’s going to be a great bench please photograph the progress so you can share.
You have a nice sized workshop. Wish I had that much space.

-- James E McIntyre

View jmartel's profile


9264 posts in 3434 days

#6 posted 08-23-2018 01:18 PM

Jim, Just wanted to say the squirt looks awesome. My dad and I bought plans for one about 15 years ago with the intent to build it and nothing came of it.

As far as the bench goes, get whatever you can get the cheapest and heaviest. Doesn’t need to be maple.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

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