Workbench question

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Forum topic by Bboyd posted 01-19-2014 12:02 PM 970 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 2183 days

01-19-2014 12:02 PM

New to this forum and haven’t seen this question posted. I’ve seen some great benches on this site and I’d appreciate any feedback. I’m building a workbench on a budget. I already have the base built from some really big hemlock beams from an old barn that I got for free. I also happened to get enough hard maple (after cutting around a bunch of knots) to build a 4 inch thick top for 150 bucks. Here’s where I can use some advice:

The base is already built and is perfectly square and plumb. I was thinking of making the top the exact width of the base so I can use the legs of the bench for additional support when clamping large boards vertically, since the legs would be flush with the sides of the top. I looked around on the web and I see a lot of benches that seem to be built this way. My only concern is that if for some reason the legs swell more than the top to the point that they are proud of the sides of the top, it would be tough to clamp anything vertically in my vise. For this reason I’m thinking of just making the top 1/4 inch wider than the base to avoid this problem. I figure the 4 inch thickness of my top will be plenty of clamping surface anyway. Is this a valid concern or should I just make the top flush with the width of the base?

9 replies so far

View SuperCubber's profile


1080 posts in 2843 days

#1 posted 01-19-2014 12:21 PM

I would just make it flush. Wood will always move, but what you’re considering is quite common in woodworking benches.

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC | "To give anything less than your best is to sacrafice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine

View Rileysdad's profile


110 posts in 3837 days

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

If you’re worried about the top’s movement, attach the vice side hard and fast and let the far side float.

-- Measure twice, cut once, buy extra stock.

View danoaz's profile


223 posts in 2728 days

#3 posted 01-19-2014 01:56 PM

This may be a little hard to explain so I have attached an image. How about attaching a stationary piece the same size as the moving vice piece that is shimmed off the leg?

-- "Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art." Frank LLoyd Wright

View bondogaposis's profile


5569 posts in 2910 days

#4 posted 01-19-2014 02:24 PM

I made legs flush with the top and in nearly a year of use they are still flush, I think it is a non-issue.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Airframer's profile


3043 posts in 2511 days

#5 posted 01-19-2014 02:32 PM

If your legs are old barn wood they should be plenty stable by now. Keep in mind as the legs move so will the top and any difference will not be readily noticeable.

-- Eric - "I'm getting proficient with these hand jobbers. - BigRedKnothead"

View thesoninlaw's profile


97 posts in 2343 days

#6 posted 01-19-2014 03:09 PM

... if for some reason? I agree with the above. You have a non-issue here.

View lysdexic's profile


5291 posts in 3181 days

#7 posted 01-19-2014 03:20 PM


-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View Bboyd's profile


5 posts in 2183 days

#8 posted 01-19-2014 03:30 PM

Flush it is. Thank you all for the advice.

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2665 days

#9 posted 01-19-2014 03:35 PM

The only time I’ve heard of it being an issue is with unseasoned wood with moisture contents above 20%. Even then it’s not that big of a deal. In Schwartz’s workbench book, he says even building roubo’s with poorly dried dimensional lumber is not a big deal. I think you have a non-issue.

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

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