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Assembly Table or Workbench

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Forum topic by CLS89 posted 01-21-2021 07:24 PM 748 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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CLS89

39 posts in 880 days


01-21-2021 07:24 PM

My shop is in a 10×20ft area in the back part of the garage. I am in the process of laying out tools and shop furniture. I’ve made a cabinet for my jobsite saw, so it is now more of a stationary saw with a larger work surface. I am trying to decide on whether to make a workbench or an assembly table. I don’t really have room for both, and quite honestly I don’t think I need both. I mostly use power tools. I occasionally use chisels or a block plane for cleaning up cuts or joints.

I’m thinking about making a plywood assembly table similar to the one in the photo below and just placing it behind my table saw, so I have one large work surface.

The other option is to make a utilitarian style workbench with some work holding options such as a vise and dog holes. Basic 2×4 construction and ether a solid core door, or 2 layers of 3/4” plywood for the top of the bench. Example below. This type of workbench would also have to double as my outfeed and assembly table.

Looking for some feedback from power tool woodworkers. Which of these benches do you have in your shop? If you could only pick one which would you pick? If you have both a workbench and assembly table in your shop, which style gets the most use? If you don’t have a workbench with a vise what do you do for work holding when the situation calls for it?


23 replies so far

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

1460 posts in 1966 days


#1 posted 01-21-2021 09:50 PM

This depends on your work. Cabinet makers, furniture makers , etc all have different challenges…

Your setup will vary.

If I had to chose it would be a large tablesaw setup with space to build on..

View pottz's profile

pottz

14730 posts in 1991 days


#2 posted 01-21-2021 10:20 PM

Click for details

here is what works for me,im the same mostly power tools and some hand tool work.
also ive since added a track grid so i can attach clamps or jigs as needed.

-- 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 Bearcontrare's profile

Bearcontrare

90 posts in 143 days


#3 posted 01-21-2021 11:47 PM

No reason you can’t make an assembly table, positioned as shown, but with a face vise on one side and some holes for dogs or clamps to help hold your work during assembly.

-- Barry, in Maryland

View pottz's profile

pottz

14730 posts in 1991 days


#4 posted 01-22-2021 12:04 AM

that rockwell bench jaw ive got on the corner is my go too,love it.

-- 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 therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

7222 posts in 1581 days


#5 posted 01-22-2021 06:08 AM

Don’t forget you can build a sturdy work table, assembly table, and if you need a vise, and workspace for hand tool work, you can build a Moxon vise, or a mini workbench to sit on your normal table. Especially valid if hand tool work isn’t the main focus.

-- Think safe, be safe

View PBWilson1970's profile

PBWilson1970

185 posts in 400 days


#6 posted 01-22-2021 01:49 PM

I’ve found that I use the square footage of my assembly table is more important to me than a super thick, immovable benchtop. With dog holes for keeping boards in one place and a vise, I don’t realistically need a beautiful Roubo bench (although I’d LOVE to!) and since my shop is small, using the assembly table as an outfeed for my tablesaw, is extremely important to me. I’ve only hand planed one large board for a project larger than my planer so I really don’t need the benefits of a dedicated work bench.

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View Axis39's profile

Axis39

430 posts in 604 days


#7 posted 01-22-2021 03:31 PM

My work bench/outfeed table/assembly table is one and the same…

I built mine so it sits 1/8” below my table saw, with a leg vice, and dogholes, and it has drawers and storage underneath. It’s almost large enough to assemble most of my projects.

Working in a small shop, I have to make use of every inch.

The decision is really about how you work. Lots of power tool work to build cabinets? Go with assembly table. All hand tool work? You need a sturdy workbench that won’t move around when you’re planing boards, or has good hold down possibilities for banging way with a chisel.

Being the whore that I am, I do about anything for money… So I need multifunctional.

But, i also use saw horses with 2×4’s and plywood for temporary benches outside the shop as well…

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

6628 posts in 2394 days


#8 posted 01-22-2021 04:45 PM

I’ve been using one I downsized from work table/bench from a Norm Abrams design for several years and it is super easy to build and plenty strong. His used a torsion box for the top. I just used a laminated top salvaged from an old desk we got for free at a garage sale. I really like the laminate top for glue ups. Drips just pop right off and no risk of gluing your piece to the top. The legs are made from ply wood which gives you nearly the strength of a 4×4 but without the weight. It also includes simple DIY wheel jacks that make it easily mobile but solid when down. I attached a vise to one end and use it as a bench and outfeed table.

Click for details

The widget doesn’t seem to be working again so here is a photo if you don’t want to follow the link. There is a link to the Norm Abrams video from the New Yankee Workshop on my project posting where he builds the worktable.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Brawler's profile

Brawler

201 posts in 837 days


#9 posted 01-22-2021 05:02 PM


My work bench/outfeed table/assembly table is one and the same…

I built mine so it sits 1/8” below my table saw, with a leg vice, and dogholes, and it has drawers and storage underneath. It s almost large enough to assemble most of my projects.

Working in a small shop, I have to make use of every inch.

- Axis39


+1 with Axis39, however I also built a 3’x5’ bench that pulls down from the wall for when I need a little extra bench space.

-- Daniel, Pontiac, MI

View CLS89's profile

CLS89

39 posts in 880 days


#10 posted 01-22-2021 05:30 PM


I ve been using one I downsized from work table/bench from a Norm Abrams design for several years and it is super easy to build and plenty strong. His used a torsion box for the top. I just used a laminated top salvaged from an old desk we got for free at a garage sale. I really like the laminate top for glue ups. Drips just pop right off and no risk of gluing your piece to the top. The legs are made from ply wood which gives you nearly the strength of a 4×4 but without the weight. It also includes simple DIY wheel jacks that make it easily mobile but solid when down. I attached a vise to one end and use it as a bench and outfeed table.

Click for details

The widget doesn t seem to be working again so here is a photo if you don t want to follow the link. There is a link to the Norm Abrams video from the New Yankee Workshop on my project posting where he builds the worktable.

- Lazyman

I was thinking about designing the table after Norms New Yankee Workshop design. I have plenty of plywood for the whole project. I was also thinking about adding cubbies below for container storage. See example in photo. I’d also like to attach a power strip to it and make space for my pancake compressor on the bottom shelf. Question for the top. How much overhang do I need to mount a vise? What’s a good simple vise design that would fit this type of assembly table? I know pottz recommended the rockwell bench jaw, but it appears this item is no longer available for sale.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

6628 posts in 2394 days


#11 posted 01-22-2021 08:20 PM

The amount of overhang needed depends upon the vise and whether you can or want to cut through the apron. If you look at mine above, you’ll notice that I opted to have a pretty long overhang on the ends (decided to use the entire salvaged desktop) and added shelf brackets to support the long ends. I later attached 2 layers of 3/4” plywood underneath on one end, also supported by the brackets, and attached a basic quick release vise and I’ve never had any trouble with it. In my situation, the overhang on the end was enough that I did not have to cut a hole in the apron.

EDIT: here is a picture of the vise mounting

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View CLS89's profile

CLS89

39 posts in 880 days


#12 posted 02-04-2021 03:36 PM



Click for details

here is what works for me,im the same mostly power tools and some hand tool work.
also ive since added a track grid so i can attach clamps or jigs as needed.

- pottz

pottz, I have a question about how you joined the 2×4 framing on your assembly table. I’m looking at the photos, and I am guessing the 2×4’s are ether joined with pocket screws, or they are screwed from underneath? I think i’d like to frame mine the same way you did. Thanks

View pottz's profile

pottz

14730 posts in 1991 days


#13 posted 02-04-2021 04:13 PM


Click for details

here is what works for me,im the same mostly power tools and some hand tool work.
also ive since added a track grid so i can attach clamps or jigs as needed.

- pottz

pottz, I have a question about how you joined the 2×4 framing on your assembly table. I m looking at the photos, and I am guessing the 2×4 s are ether joined with pocket screws, or they are screwed from underneath? I think i d like to frame mine the same way you did. Thanks

- CLS89


no 2×4 except on the bottom to beef it up,the cabinet is all melamine and the top is a torsion box made with 1×4.this is built the same way you would make frameless kitchen cabinets.i recommend the torsion box top as it is a very strong top and stays perfectly flat which is what you need when making furniture.let me know if you want pic’s of something im not showing.i also added a clamp rack on the back side you can see in my projects.and since posting i added a t track grid to the top.

-- 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 CLS89's profile

CLS89

39 posts in 880 days


#14 posted 02-04-2021 04:23 PM

Click for details

here is what works for me,im the same mostly power tools and some hand tool work.
also ive since added a track grid so i can attach clamps or jigs as needed.

- pottz

pottz, I have a question about how you joined the 2×4 framing on your assembly table. I m looking at the photos, and I am guessing the 2×4 s are ether joined with pocket screws, or they are screwed from underneath? I think i d like to frame mine the same way you did. Thanks

- CLS89

no 2×4 except on the bottom to beef it up,the cabinet is all melamine and the top is a torsion box made with 1×4.this is built the same way you would make frameless kitchen cabinets.i recommend the torsion box top as it is a very strong top and stays perfectly flat which is what you need when making furniture.let me know if you want pic s of something im not showing.i also added a clamp rack on the back side you can see in my projects.and since posting i added a t track grid to the top.

- pottz

I appreciate the response. Please see arrows in photo. It looks like the bottom of the structure is built out of the 2×4? Question is how did you join that butt joint (arrows). Pocket screws? Regular screws just screwed in from the bottom?

>

View TnHalfBack's profile

TnHalfBack

2 posts in 384 days


#15 posted 02-04-2021 04:27 PM

My solution to the same question, was to cut down a Baker style scaffold to make an light duty work bench/assembly table. I can quickly adjust the height and/or disassemble and store in the corner. I had the scaffold and was done with it, otherwise I may not have gone this route. I occasionally have to make space for vehicle repair.

I do mostly power tool work. I would like to have a “real” workbench but I would probably just clutter it up like any other horizontal surface.

showing 1 through 15 of 23 replies

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