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New work bench- apron...pros and cons

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Forum topic by Brodan posted 05-15-2021 01:57 PM 933 views 0 times favorited 41 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Brodan

335 posts in 2426 days


05-15-2021 01:57 PM

I’m building a small joiners workbench and can’t decide about an apron. I like having access for clamp reach under the bench top (with out apron) but seeing the functionality of an apron ….probably watching too many videos….

I know this topic is an age old debate but I’d be interested in knowing what specific problems others have encountered with and without an apron. Whether in hindsight wished they had or wished they had not built yet bench with an apron.

Any advice is appreciated.

Case of analysis paralysis.

-- Dan, TN


41 replies so far

View Bearcontrare's profile

Bearcontrare

189 posts in 260 days


#1 posted 05-16-2021 01:20 PM

Dan,

My bench is very much like this one from Bernard Jones’ “Practical Woodworker”. Showing this one since I’m at work and have this photo on my phone
I put a 2X6 apron all around the top of my bench. The front apron has 3/4” peg holes to support work horizontally, with one end clamped in the leg vise.
BUT, Thesr holes also allow the use of either holdfasts or removable head bar clamps to hold stock in place for clamping, etc. I have also plowed a groove in the base of the apron to accommodate the tounge at the top of a deadman.
Not sure that I would like a very wide English style apron, but this six-inch version works quite well for me. Hope this helps!

-- Barry, in Maryland

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Sylvain

1283 posts in 3622 days


#2 posted 05-16-2021 03:00 PM

I made a Paul Sellers workbench .
The apron on this bench are there to ensure no left-right raking. The front apron is glued to the workbench top making a very rigid L beam. Wedges ensure a tight fit even if the leg assemblies shrink. This workbench can be knocked down if needed.

One can still clamp things on the top if one use long enough clamps to bridge the apron height as regularly shown on P.S. videos. E.g. as seen here at about 1’50”
Although, P.S. has his own way to secure the piece to the workbench:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SozekTvPpJM

If you need to regularly knock down your workbench, the Moravian workbench is a way to go.
Assembly in less then a minute.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

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Kudzupatch

222 posts in 2332 days


#3 posted 05-16-2021 03:55 PM

Agreed, it is to stabilize this base.

Now, if you don’t have a sliding dead man I could see it would be handy with the rest holes. I don’t have an apron on mine but I have a dead man on mine and I use it a fair amount.

-- Jeff Horton * Kudzu Craft skin boats* www.kudzucraft.com

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Brodan

335 posts in 2426 days


#4 posted 05-17-2021 10:09 AM

Barry, thanks for the insight. I like the narrower 6” apron you describe. Facilitates the deadman and provides support when workin longer boards.

Thanks, Dan

-- Dan, TN

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bondogaposis

6000 posts in 3474 days


#5 posted 05-17-2021 12:56 PM

I built mine Roubo style without an apron. I have a sliding deadman, that is very handy. If you mortise the legs directly into the top, there is no racking.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Robert

4599 posts in 2604 days


#6 posted 05-17-2021 01:03 PM


I built mine Roubo style without an apron. I have a sliding deadman, that is very handy. If you mortise the legs directly into the top, there is no racking.

- bondogaposis

If you built a sturdy trestle, there is no racking, how you attach the top doesn’t matter. Biggest advantage: you avoid through tenons and maybe having to look at gaps every day.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View metolius's profile

metolius

430 posts in 1854 days


#7 posted 05-17-2021 06:49 PM

I think aprons are cool, but not always. Ive recently chosen the direction of Bob Lang’s PWW bench ; a sort-of Holtzapffel with an added rail 6” below the bench top that acts a bit like an english apron though its not.

In my opinion, there are too many really nice bench options and not enough floor space to build them all.

-- derek / oregon

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SMP

4198 posts in 1029 days


#8 posted 05-17-2021 07:09 PM

I built an English style from Richard Maguire’s plans. However I put in a removable split kind of like a roubo style so I can clamp if needed. However, with holdfasts I find there is no need to use clamps like I thought the split would allow. IMO the bigger consideration is whether or not to make the apron flush with the rear vise face or not. I originally had it flush like the tradition English benches. There are pros and cons to that configuration, but when I tried to do some things like Paul Sellers, I quickly realized I needed the rear chop protruding away from the apron. Due to the original vise racking, and this offset issue, I replaced the vise with a metal vise and purposefully made the chop/vise stick out about an inch.

Short answer, what ever you make and figure out how to utilize will work. There are just several ways to skin the cat.

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Sylvain

1283 posts in 3622 days


#9 posted 05-17-2021 07:30 PM

6” apron seems a bit short for anti-wobble function if no other stretcher. The minimum used by Paul Sellers is 8”, although he recommends 9”

Now, Danish workbenches have a single wide(about 6”wide vertically) stretcher but at mid height .
The Moravian workbench has a single stretcher but the legs are angled.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View metolius's profile

metolius

430 posts in 1854 days


#10 posted 05-18-2021 01:55 AM

The Schwarz narrated an interesting 10 part Vimeo series last year, where each segment is a different bench that he has. The Nicholson segment is here with his comments.

-- derek / oregon

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HokieKen

17978 posts in 2262 days


#11 posted 05-18-2021 11:57 AM

IMO, it’s a matter of what kind of work you do. I think an apron would be largely in my way. I much prefer the Roubo style bench with a leg vise flush to the face of the bench. Then a slave or sliding deadman can be used to support longer work. But, Paul Sellers lives by the apron and obviously knows his stuff :-)

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

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Sylvain

1283 posts in 3622 days


#12 posted 05-18-2021 07:25 PM

In fact Paul Sellers does much of his work in the quick release vise (with a protruding vise).
(and as I follow him, I do the same and I like it)
The aprons on his bench are solely for structural reasons.

His workbench is not a Nicholson one; it sports a tick top glued to the apron making a rigid L beam and the apron is not used for clamping.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View Brodan's profile

Brodan

335 posts in 2426 days


#13 posted 05-18-2021 09:47 PM

Sounds like there’s a lot to consider. I appreciate everyone’s insight and the links. I picked up some 3-1/2 “ x 10” x 12’ long oak beams (salvage from a 100+ year old house) that I’ll start milling to build the top while I ponder.

Thanks again for all the info

Dan

-- Dan, TN

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

8009 posts in 1697 days


#14 posted 05-18-2021 11:44 PM

My next bench will likely be my last, also #16. I’ve done a lot of the styles, and for where I am now which is a LOT more power tool oriented, and use hand tools just for final fit and finish. I want that under the deck storage, and there are just too many ways to mimic a deadman than to actually commit to one full time.

No way will I ever put on a crap catcher top again, AKA tool storage tray/trough, and I want it mobile, so figuring mass and wheels is doable, but another process to consider.

I say this last bit tongue in cheek. Boiled in oil before I would build a bench, just because some dood with a show, article, or website told me to. :-)

Your bench, your rules.

-- Think safe, be safe

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Brodan

335 posts in 2426 days


#15 posted 05-19-2021 10:13 AM

TherealSteveN, I appreciate your candor. You’re right, there are many videos, websites and the like sharing alternative viewpoints. How’s a person to know what’s the one right way? Hence the reason for my question, to get the different opinions of those using workbenches to do woodworking. And my conclusion?????plenty to consider understanding the various viewpoints, some of which I hadn’t considered. Consider the tool tray, I can’t stand tools etc falling off of my current bench so I’ll incorporate a tool tray. But noting the love/ hate relationship with them I’m now designing it for ease of cleaning with the ability to replace it with a solid option.

The differences of opinions on this site has provided me with the greatest learning.

Again thanks for sharing your thought.

-- Dan, TN

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