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Size of your workbench? And some questions about how you use your bench

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Forum topic by Sark posted 05-16-2020 05:00 PM 1129 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Sark

302 posts in 1168 days


05-16-2020 05:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench

For many years I have been using an extremely simple but very flexible workbench that appeared in Fine Woodworking. I think its especially good at managing large sheets of plywood, which I can flop onto the trestles and cut away not worrying about mucking up the top surface. And its big, 4’ x 8’ but can be easily moved, reconfigured, and was easy to make, taking about a day of work…and I’ve got about 10 years of use out of it, making mostly cabinets.

Now I’m thinking about making a more permanent and elaborate type of workbench, and I wanted to get some ideas from what you are doing?

1. First, how big is your bench?

Note: I have a 2 car garage shop, and my torsion-box-beam bench takes up 4’x8’. Workbench plans all say that the dimensions can be varied to suit your use. So what is that for you?

2. Are you breaking down full sheets of plywood using your bench, or do you have another system for plywood cutting?

3. Is your bench more or less fixed in place?

Note: I make mostly cabinets with plywood carcass, so the ability to hold solid lumber while hand-chopping dovetails is not high on my needs list. Dovetails…what are those? Fine-woodworking? Good-enough woodworking is more my style.

Thanks for your input.


26 replies so far

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

1260 posts in 1767 days


#1 posted 05-16-2020 05:20 PM

Remember cabinet shops have low benches (24”) or so for cabinetry and high benches (30”) or so for furniture.

Making a bench that is adjustable in height covers both….

Here’s what I use for and works okay



View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6322 posts in 3301 days


#2 posted 05-16-2020 05:30 PM

My workbench is 80” long and 30” deep….it sits out away from the wall for access on all sides. when built it I want at 6’ long…the 30” deep was always what I had before. It wound up 80” (I think) because I could fit that into te space I had at the time. My assembly table is also about 80” long (77” to be exact…I think) but it’s 36” deep. My old one was 50×50” and assembling cabinets on it was not that convenient…it was too narrow and too wide all at the same time. My bench is used on occasion with hand planes, but I don’t hand cut DT joints. It’s not my favorite work, but most of what I do seems to be cabinet type projects. Kind of following what Jack said about height…my workbench is 34” high (I’m not that tall at 5’7”) but my assembly table is about 31”...it was supposed to be 30” but I didn’t measure twice before I cut. the lower height for me is much easier for cabinet assembly and most other chores done on it.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

1468 posts in 1396 days


#3 posted 05-16-2020 06:22 PM

No bench. My TS saw is my bench.

I breakdown large sheets by getting my on free cut at the BORG and on top of the saw with a hand held circ saw.

Since it’s the saw, its stationary.

Doesn’t prevent me from building cabs one at a time in an 8×16 shop.


All built in a small space.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View LesB's profile

LesB

2576 posts in 4251 days


#4 posted 05-16-2020 06:41 PM

Here is a Sketch up drawing of one I made for my shop. It is about 4X8’ The top is adjustable as you can see from the two pictures so you decide the height you need. I often use it as an out feed or side support for my table saw when cutting sheets of plywood. It is on wheels so it rolls. The top has one sheet of 3/4” ply topped with a sheet ot 3/4 MDF which can be changes out when it gets messed up and ugly. I have more detailed drawings if anyone is interested.

-- Les B, Oregon

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

5953 posts in 1382 days


#5 posted 05-16-2020 07:04 PM

I’m currently redoing my entire shop, and this go round I am going to go with height adjustable like Jack mentioned, and more clamping power that I’ve had before. For the bones I’m going to use a 4 legged height adjustable office platform, some of these are rated to 1000 pounds. On that I plan to build at least the flat surface of the bench in the link below. I may add a bit of an overhang, probably not near what they show though. I can’t imagine why you couldn’t hang a conventional woodworking vise on a corner, but you may not need to.

The height adjustable feature is huge for a work table, finishing platform, and also an outfeed, or infeed for tools not TS height. But it must be fluid, easy to use, and allow for enough weight to be supported. I plan to use a 4 legged one, as the 2 leg variety look tippy to me.

Size is personal preference, and I think many benches are just way bigger than they need to be. I imagine mine will be 60” by 30” max.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=6&v=R_QsnUk0Bec&feature=emb_title

-- Think safe, be safe

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

4994 posts in 1628 days


#6 posted 05-16-2020 11:38 PM


..... Size is personal preference, and I think many benches are just way bigger than they need to be. I imagine mine will be 60” by 30” max.
- therealSteveN

As trSN... ask 100 woodworkers and you will get 400 +1000 opinions… one is what they have, one is what they want, one is what they can afford, one is what they capable of making and many they have read about.

  • Do you use handtools? Unless you want to spend half your time dragging the bench back to it’s position, you’ll need a beefy bench to prevent creep when using hand tools, especially planes. (You could bolt it down.) I use a fairly lightweight bench and when it moves, I find an better, and often easier way, to do the job.
  • How’s your back? I use a mini bench Mk II (mini Mk I) that I can put/remove from my work table to bring the work closer to my eyes.
    More recently I have upped my work surface using my clone of the Stanton bench. He has a swag of videos on the topic.
    This latter sacrifices some stability and I then continue on the mini (both are on my tabletop about 75-80% of the time).
  • Ron Paulk has a good lightweight design (Google it).
  • The Wood Whisperer has a great set of plans and videos for building a Split-Top Roubo Workbench... at a cost.
  • Jay's Custom creations.
  • Hell, every woodworking magazine will have suggestions.

Good luck deciding/designing/building… and next week you can create a vaccine for C-19 and the following week find the holy grail...

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View pottz's profile

pottz

10357 posts in 1792 days


#7 posted 05-17-2020 12:10 AM

the duck speaks the reality their is no one fits all bench,ive got a couple but the one i use everytime im in the shop is this.
Click for details
any questions just pm me.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

4994 posts in 1628 days


#8 posted 05-17-2020 01:04 AM

K, pottzy... my goto workbench,

don’t believe in glass…
and for the small jobs,

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

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pottz

10357 posts in 1792 days


#9 posted 05-17-2020 03:21 AM

god i love you duckie !!!!!!!

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View WoodenDreams's profile

WoodenDreams

1097 posts in 719 days


#10 posted 05-17-2020 05:03 AM

I try not to use plywood or MDF sheets on my projects. I do realize using them can make certain jobs easier. The only MDF sheets I purchased were for making my workbench and counter surfaces. And the only time I bought plywood was oak plywood, from a friend of mine (excess he had left over and didn’t want after making a cabinet). I try to used actual wood.

You already know to build your workbench for your project needs. Have you considered a workbench that’s hinged on a wall. That can be raised out of the way, and unlatched and lowered back down when needed. The largest projects I build are normally Hope & Cedar chests, so, my workbench is 4’x4’. It’s in the middle of my shop and doubles as a outfeed table to the table saw.

View controlfreak's profile

controlfreak

953 posts in 409 days


#11 posted 05-17-2020 11:38 AM

After starting to explore hand tool work I have a calling to make a Moravian workbench. I have watched Will Myers video and am gathering my tools and wood. I think it will be perfect for a small shop.

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

1260 posts in 1767 days


#12 posted 05-17-2020 01:54 PM

If you work in commercial , residential or furniture you’ll find most tables are the same in each company. A 4×8 sheet plywood, melamine or laminated top. Only differnce are the shops need for height…the shops may have several uses for this tables

For smaller shops these large tables take up too much room.

View pontic's profile

pontic

799 posts in 1416 days


#13 posted 05-17-2020 02:55 PM

40 years and still serving me well. simple as it gets.

-- Illigitimii non carburundum sum

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

5953 posts in 1382 days


#14 posted 05-17-2020 03:50 PM


god i love you duckie !!!!!!!

- pottz

He is quite refreshing.

-- Think safe, be safe

View pottz's profile

pottz

10357 posts in 1792 days


#15 posted 05-17-2020 04:51 PM


god i love you duckie !!!!!!!

- pottz

He is quite refreshing.

- therealSteveN


never a dull conversation.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

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