Author Topic: Workbench Designs  (Read 16064 times)

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Offline Meatplow

  • Posts: 35
Workbench Designs
« on: June 19, 2009, 09:42 PM »
Good Evening,

I am early in the planning stages (drawings and research, for me that is a big art of the fun) of building a workbench. I've been part of FOG long enough to know that many of you have some very good advice. And even with my thick head I know a good thing when I see it. I would like to put willing FOG members to task.
Sow things you should know, I have plenty of room, a flat concrete floor, no vacuum system other than a mobile Rigid vac. that I use on tools when ever possible. I do own a FESTOOL MIDI that I use primarily or sanding...and the Domino or Lamello when the time comes, but that is a different discussion.
Things I would like on my workbench are: 1) Twin Screw Vise, possibly two, similar to Veritas (Lee Valley) 2) A Tail Vise (a nice, but not necessary addition) 3) This would be nice Wood Screw Thread
Off the shelf Workbenches like Sjorbergs and Laguna (Laguna has a real nice version Laguna Tools) are nice but, I want to make my own... Now for your two cents, more if you're willing to share. Do I need a solid "hard wood" top (what kind of wood would that be)? I would like drawers or doors underneath, but an open bottom would also work (are any of these more convenient)? Your feedback, links, photos are all appreciated. If this question has already come-up, and I can't see how it couldn't have, please direct me to that also. I probably forgot a whole bunch of questions, so for those of you that have gone through this experience, fill me in.

Please and Thanks in advance

Michael (Meatplow)
I'm glad I don't get paid what I'm worth

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Offline quietguy

  • Posts: 491
Re: Workbench Designs
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2009, 10:11 PM »
I think that the workbench is the most personal tool we have. and building your own is the best way to ensure that it works for you.  A bench, at least for me, is a living thing.  It gets changed, modified, or replaced as I better define my requirements.  

I would urge you to do as much research as possible (which you have already started), and decide what features make sense for the way you work.  It may be a good idea to create a MDF mock-up of your final design.  I did this on my last revision, and it only cost me about $60 in material.  

Maple and Birch are the staples of bench building.  Dimensional stability and density are the keys to selecting the proper wood.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2009, 10:13 PM by mwhafner »

Offline fidelfs

  • Posts: 527
  • Houston, TX
Re: Workbench Designs
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2009, 11:27 PM »
I love to work with hand tools better than power tools.  I understand it will take me longer but it is a personal satisfaction doing it with hand tools.  I use my table saw and my jointer to take it close to the dimension then I use hand planes for the final dimension.  Said that, I needed a good bench.  I thought of maple but after reading "Workbenches: from Design and Theory" from Christopher Schwarz and learned that or birch benches are popular in EU because is rather available there and less expensive that USA.

I made mine following his advise of wood choice and if you browse his book you will understand what wood is better for a bench.  I used SYP and it has hold very well. It is cheap and you can find it at Home Depot or Lowes (S outhern Y ellow P ine).

You can see the Roubo bench made by Jameel Abraham

This is the one the popular workbenches being discussed in neandertal forums.  I am planing to make me one pretty soon.

You can also browse this site for workbench information
« Last Edit: June 19, 2009, 11:29 PM by fidelfs »
There is never a situation where it can't be done with the right hand tool - even though it may be a lot more work.

Offline Sometimewoodworker

  • Posts: 733
    • Jerome's  Other work
Re: Workbench Designs
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2009, 07:13 AM »
Good Evening,

I am early in the planning stages (drawings and research, for me that is a big art of the fun) of building a workbench. I've been part of FOG long enough to know that many of you have some very good advice. And even with my thick head I know a good thing when I see it. I would like to put willing FOG members to task.
Sow things you should know, I have plenty of room, a flat concrete floor, no vacuum system other than a mobile Rigid vac. that I use on tools when ever possible. I do own a FESTOOL MIDI that I use primarily or sanding...and the Domino or Lamello when the time comes, but that is a different discussion.
Please and Thanks in advance

Michael (Meatplow)


A very important point you have left out is your intended use. Hand tools, power tools, or a mixture of both.

FWIW I am a power tool user so my WIP design  would not work for a hand tool user.
Jerome
TS55, OF1400, Elu MOF96, Rotex150, DTS400, ETS150/3 Domino, MFK700, CXS, HL 850, Trend T11, Makita LS1212, Original Mini CV06 Cyclone, Workshop supplies drum sander, & WoodRat. Don't have don't want list: MFT
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nui-jerome/

Offline rwdawson

  • Posts: 134
Re: Workbench Designs
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2009, 09:26 AM »
Meatplow,

In addition to the previously mentioned Workbenches: from Design and Theory by Christopher Schwarz, you might consider The Workbench Book by Scott Landis.  These are possibly the two most referenced books on the subject.  Chris also has a blog site for Woodworking Magazine, http://blog.woodworking-magazine.com/blog/ which has an index of entries by subject.  There are plenty of notes relative to workbences, as well as references to other sites.

Other points made here are excellent and worthy of consideration.  You are off to a good start.

Richard
« Last Edit: June 20, 2009, 06:44 PM by rwdawson »

Offline Jesse Cloud

  • Posts: 1722
  • Festooling at the end of a dirt road in New Mexico
Re: Workbench Designs
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2009, 05:57 PM »
OK, here's my two cents worth....
First decide whether you want a utility bench or a looks like fine furniture bench.  From your high end choices on vises, I would guess the latter.  The former works, saves a lot of $$$, but doesn't reflect your own sense of craftsmanship.

My bench is made of poplar legs with maple stretchers and a maple top.  If you are going with a maple top, think about prefab.  You can buy one already made for what the lumber would cost (maybe less) and save yourself a lot of time.

One big decision is height.  Try using your handtools at a range of heights and find what works best for you.  

Another is whether you want a tool tray.  I chose to have one, but I kind of regret it - its always cluttered and the tool I'm looking for is often in the tray under a bunch of stuff.  If you have more discipline, this may be a moot point for you.

Drawers are nice, but I like to store work-in-progress under the bench, and drawers limit your ability to do that.

Your vise choices are great.  Did you consider a patternmaker's vise?  They hold the workpiece at any angle - great for working curves!

Another key factor is where to put the darn thing.  Do you want to be able to work from both sides (e.g., complex glue-ups) - that rules out putting it against a wall.  Be sure you have room for whatever you will be doing, especially around that tail vice - mine is a tight fit.

And last but not least, a good bench is HEAVY - don't hesitate to ask for help!

Fun project, please post lots of progress pics!
« Last Edit: June 20, 2009, 05:58 PM by Jesse Cloud »

Offline Meatplow

  • Posts: 35
Re: Workbench Designs
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2009, 08:47 PM »
Thanks,

I knew I picked the right people to give me input. I have always put-off buying the two books mentioned, I have paged through them often and tomorrow is Father's Day. What I didn't mention was, I have built a preliminary bench, this is to be used as a bench to build my bench...I think this is the definition of dichotomy. Maple is good advice (mwhafner), I suspect this is what I will use. (fidelfs) The links you added were excellent, everyone should take a look at these. I am a power tool user, however I would like to give a feeble attempt, which may be my best attempt at some hand-cut dovetails, but primarily a power tool user, good point (JeromeM).  I have been to woodworking-magazine.com lots of interesting information (rwdawson) thanks for that reminder. Jesse Cloud, I am willing to proofread your book prior to sending it to the publisher... My novice approach would be a utility bench that would look at home in a nice kitchen, I would be O.K. with beating this up a bit to get what I want. I will go through the internet searches to look for prefab tops, but if know, or have done some research in the past, I am more that willing to use that info. I tray is a neat addition, but not necessary. The size is really not a problem (10 feet long by some standard width) and working from both sides is an absolute must. Lastly, I was thinking of adding some sort of transport device like Laguna and Felder uses on there combination machines, it consist of two wheels, a tongue, and a removable lever-arm with a set of wheels to steer it, neat, clean, hidden, and super functional. Please and Thanks to everyone, keep the ideas coming, they do not fall on deaf ears.

Happy Father's Day to any of you who happen to be Fathers

Michael (Meatplow)
 
I'm glad I don't get paid what I'm worth

Offline Jay Evans

  • Posts: 50
Re: Workbench Designs
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2009, 09:42 PM »
Michael,

Here are some ideas, take them for what you want.

I built a standard jointer's bench out of walnut, it's heavy and sturdy.  I built it with a standard metal front vice (German, store bought) and a standard tail vice with square dog holes.  I built the tail vice from metal (from scratch, because I had the equipment, etc) and faced it with walnut and ironwood.  I like the tail vice and std vice and use both.

I built in a tool tray, but wish I hadn't.  It collects all kinds of junk and is hard to keep clean.  My bench is a standard trestle style with heave stretchers that go from side to side.  The height of the stretchers, from the floor to the bottoms is 1/2 an inch less than the height of my cheap Harbor Freight furniture dolly (cost about 14$ US).  It is very easy to move the bench, which is very heavy.  All I do is lift one end of the bench off the floor about two inches, (it's easy to lift this with my butt against one end and hook my hands under, backwards, and lift with the legs) and have my wife, friend, etc, slide the furniture dolly under the center of the stretchers.  When I set the bench down, it balances on the dolly.  The wheels and bench arraignment have a zero turn radius, it's simple to move and simple to load and unload from the dolly.  I can do it myself by levering the end up off the floor and putting blocks under two of the end legs, and then slide in the dolly and level and remove the blocks.  This works great. 

I also wanted drawers under the bench, but didn't want them to interfear with my vices, so I built a bank of drawers that sits on the stretchers and has a plywood bottom plate that fits between them front to back.  The drawer bank is 2 feet shorter then the bench is long, so I can easily move it all the way left, or right, or in the center...etc.  I left room on top of the bank to keep my shooting board, bench hook, etc, about 6" of clearance between the top of the drawer bank and bottom of the top.

If I were going to build another bench, I would build the trestle legs with stretchers, and make the top solid and permanently attached for the front 10" of the bench.  I would attach my vices to this fixed portion.  I would make the back of the top the same height, but not permanently attach it, so it would slide back and forth front to back on top of the trestles and clamp down in place.  This would allow for a solid top when pushed against the front, a tool well in the enter of the bench when the back of the top is moved back and a 4" piece of plywood laid between the front and back sections to act as a tool tray, and the plywood could be removed for sawing down the length of the bench, or create a gap in the center of the top to clamp and fasten items when needed.  this is a combination of traditional, Charlesworth and the tortion box top benches I have seen.  Also, a bench hook or other mounting fixtures could be made with two cleats on the bottom to straddle the front top section of the bench to keep shooting boars, etc stable.  I would also build some narrow saw horses that were the same height as the top of the tressels, which would allow me to take the back of the top off and move it away from the bench proper, giving me a bench with unlimited depth for working on larger pieces.  Because of possibly having to lift the top / back off and move it to the sawhorses or extra tressels) I would consider making the top / back a tortion box as thick as the perminant front top that is mounted to the bench permanently.

I hope some of these ideas make sense, and I hope you can use them.  I work with both hand and power tools, and this seems like a very flexible set up to me.  wish you the best.  Let us know what you decide on.
Cheers-Jay

Offline Sometimewoodworker

  • Posts: 733
    • Jerome's  Other work
Re: Workbench Designs
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2009, 12:35 AM »
Thanks,

I knew I picked the right people to give me input. I have always put-off buying the two books mentioned, I have paged through them often and tomorrow is Father's Day. What I didn't mention was, I have built a preliminary bench, this is to be used as a bench to build my bench...I think this is the definition of dichotomy. Maple is good advice (mwhafner), I suspect this is what I will use. (fidelfs) The links you added were excellent, everyone should take a look at these. I am a power tool user, however I would like to give a feeble attempt, which may be my best attempt at some hand-cut dovetails, but primarily a power tool user, good point (JeromeM).  I have been to woodworking-magazine.com lots of interesting information (rwdawson) thanks for that reminder. Jesse Cloud, I am willing to proofread your book prior to sending it to the publisher... My novice approach would be a utility bench that would look at home in a nice kitchen, I would be O.K. with beating this up a bit to get what I want. I will go through the internet searches to look for prefab tops, but if know, or have done some research in the past, I am more that willing to use that info. I tray is a neat addition, but not necessary. The size is really not a problem (10 feet long by some standard width) and working from both sides is an absolute must. Lastly, I was thinking of adding some sort of transport device like Laguna and Felder uses on there combination machines, it consist of two wheels, a tongue, and a removable lever-arm with a set of wheels to steer it, neat, clean, hidden, and super functional. Please and Thanks to everyone, keep the ideas coming, they do not fall on deaf ears.

Happy Father's Day to any of you who happen to be Fathers

Michael (Meatplow)
 


"primarily a power tool user"

I looked at workbench designs and found that the majority of classic ones were (naturally) aimed at hand tool use. For me meant that though they have stood the test of time they were not necessarily good for power tool use. Also sheet goods were not available when the designs were made.

These factors decided me to use plywood as a base material for details see work Bench base

I have also settled on a torsion box MFT style top (1m x 1.7m) as that is a better design for holding work down for power tools than a conventional bench top. However the top will be bolted to the base and so can be replaced with a different design if needed. I will have no end vise as these are more for hand tool work but I will have T-slot (Festool clamp sized) all the way round for side clamping. I will also have holes through the Torsion box that will take pipe clamps in case I need a better clamping pressure.

Under the bench I have 6 large very shallow draws for small tool/part storage
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 together with 2 deeper draws for bigger items. the backs and sides of the Cabernet's will have french cleat installed to allow for different items to be kept there.

The bench will almost certainly be on wheels as I have found the inertia of it 150 to 200 KG keeps it from moving when I don't want it to

More workbench construction
« Last Edit: June 21, 2009, 12:42 AM by JeromeM »
Jerome
TS55, OF1400, Elu MOF96, Rotex150, DTS400, ETS150/3 Domino, MFK700, CXS, HL 850, Trend T11, Makita LS1212, Original Mini CV06 Cyclone, Workshop supplies drum sander, & WoodRat. Don't have don't want list: MFT
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nui-jerome/