Have only room for a short workbench

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Forum topic by Johnnyv99 posted 12-03-2014 03:32 PM 2904 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 1813 days

12-03-2014 03:32 PM

Hello folks – This is my first post on the sight. My shop is my garage which we use in the Victor, NY winters to put both of our cars in. Everything gets pushed to the back. I have every thing on wheels so that is not too much of a problem. I want to build a new workbench based on the split Roubo style with a glide vise on the side and a tail vise from Benchcrafted. I have two 27×60x1.5 tops that I will laminate for a 3 inch thickness. I just wonder if the benchtop is too short for this style. I just seems that with side vise and a dead man, that I will be able to edge planning, and can get by with the benchtop. I don’t plan on any cabinet work, other than maybe another shop cart (although I’m almost to the max for space now. I just built a folding outfeed table and a flip top tool cart. They both will make my life easier in the shop. I could fit a longer bench 1-2 feet longer. I have been wrestling with the thought that maybe I should sell the tops that I have and start over. Does anyone have any thoughts to share? Thanks to all.

-- When the people fear the government, that's Tyranny. When the government fears the people, that's Liberty.

16 replies so far

View JayT's profile


6237 posts in 2663 days

#1 posted 12-03-2014 03:39 PM

A five foot bench will do a lot of projects and if that is the size you have to work with, go for it. If you can go bigger, however, I would recommend it. I’ve never had issues with depth on my bench, but there have been times an extra foot or two on length beyond the existing 6ft would have come in handy. 6ft is what fits in my shop, so it is what it is. I’ve still been able to do what needed done every time, just maybe not quite as easily as if the bench was longer.

Good luck.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View jdh122's profile


1089 posts in 3269 days

#2 posted 12-03-2014 03:46 PM

Mine is 4 feet long and I’ve had no problems doing some pretty large projects on it. I made it as long as would fit in the space I had. Since then I’ve moved to another house and larger shop. I may make a longer bench eventually, but I’m not in any hurry to do so. If you already have the wood for 5 feet I wouldn’t get rid of it simply to be able to have 6 feet instead.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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Bill White

5216 posts in 4412 days

#3 posted 12-03-2014 03:46 PM

Go for it. A 5 footer will do a great many things.

-- [email protected]

View bandit571's profile


23421 posts in 3135 days

#4 posted 12-03-2014 03:48 PM

I think that is all the longer this bench is

Seems to work ok.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2497 days

#5 posted 12-03-2014 04:05 PM

I’m curious to see the community feedback on this one. I’m planning on building a ~25” x 60” workbench myself.

For my 2cents, I figure it depends on the size of your work. I figure the size you proposed would likely work for me since most of my projects are smaller (up to the size of a base cabinet) and thus far, I’ve been able to accomplish my work on the various ~30” x 40” (too deep, but wide enough) work tables.

-- paxorion

View bandit571's profile


23421 posts in 3135 days

#6 posted 12-03-2014 04:10 PM

I had to stretch a couple boards across to a lathe bench, to work on a screen door build

So, IF needed, one could add a stand to hold things a bit longer.

That Screen door?

Didn’t turn out too bad…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Tom Clark's profile

Tom Clark

88 posts in 3473 days

#7 posted 12-05-2014 10:03 PM

My shop has several workbenches, in different areas. They are used for different kinds of work, and for storing different tools used for different kinds of projects. There is no rule that you can only have one workbench. Shown are two short workbenches, and both are extremely useful and store the right tools in the right place. You will always find a use for more than one bench.

-- Tom

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 3084 days

#8 posted 12-05-2014 10:18 PM

I built a lot of projects on this bench. Granted, they were smaller projects. IIRC, it’s 52”.
The biggest issue with smaller benches is a lack of mass. Smaller benches will have a tendency to move when you work them hard. In my case, I was able to attach mine to the wall studs to remedy this issue. But it was only a problem once in a while, even before I attached it to the wall.

View RogerInColorado's profile


321 posts in 2406 days

#9 posted 12-06-2014 03:19 AM

I’m contemplating downsizing from a 5 foot bench to a 4 foot bench. I need room for my lathe and I want to build smaller projects. Big projects are too hard to move around in my garage when the cars have to come back inside. Putting storage in the base should make it adequately heavy and stable.

View shipwright's profile


8343 posts in 3250 days

#10 posted 12-06-2014 04:27 AM

You might get some ideas from this bench

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16163 posts in 3070 days

#11 posted 12-06-2014 04:37 AM

I’d suggest 24” is plenty deep for a bench. For me, I’d much rather have it 24” and pulled 6” from the wall than 30” against the wall. And 6’ is a very suitable / versatile / capable length. Mass is huge if it gets smaller in size; try to incorporate a cabinet or weight if it’s shorter by design, you won’t regret it. My .02.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Johnnyv99's profile


11 posts in 1813 days

#12 posted 12-07-2014 05:25 PM

Thanks to all for your replies. I will be adding a three inch end cap for the tail vise. That will give me a bit more length. My biggest concern is racking, which was also mentioned by Tedstor. I will have 3 1/2” x5” legs with a two inch tenon to attach to the table.

-- When the people fear the government, that's Tyranny. When the government fears the people, that's Liberty.

View BubbaIBA's profile


430 posts in 2828 days

#13 posted 12-07-2014 07:23 PM


”...Thanks to all for your replies. I will be adding a three inch end cap for the tail vise. That will give me a bit more length.”

You might be better served forgetting the end vise and using that room for additional bench. While some swear by end vises, some of us just swear at ‘em :-). In almost every use for an end vise there is a better and faster way to do the job.

I know a broken record but true…..As always with all things wood, YMMV.


View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4037 days

#14 posted 12-07-2014 08:54 PM

Paul M …...........If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees.

He did Ikea use them all the time.LOL Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View bobro's profile


320 posts in 1762 days

#15 posted 12-08-2014 01:37 PM

A short workbench won’t rack at all. In fact, generally speaking, a small bench should be less prone to racking than a large one. If a short/small bench racks, then it’s a poor design.

What happens when the forces are strong enough to where they might rack a bench, but the bench is well designed, is that the bench as a whole unit moves, That’s the disadvantage of short, small, light, benches, not racking.

-- Lao Ma: You are so full of anger and hatred. Xena: Everybody's gotta be full of something.

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