Reply To: Workbench Progress

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Hi Jeff,

I sincerely think you’ve made an excellent job of your bench.  Standing at 6’2″ I tend to prefer a taller bench and have a feeling you will too, as I find having mine set at between 38″ – 39″ in height tends to ease on back ache and stress in comparison to lower bench heights.  More positives come to light as you find yourself not having to stoop when cutting dovetails, etc., laying out work, chopping mortise, assembling finished pieces and the list goes on.  You find yourself able to relax into your work and discover the fact correctly positioned work pieces helps one shift focus from aching joints/muscles and on to more important aspects such as cutting accurately, planing freely and allowing technique to develop and flow more readily. 🙂

IMHO A great deal of mis-information is out there regarding recommended bench heights – heavily based upon 100 yr plus benches – but many seem to forget craftsmen of old were shorter in stature (Average height was between 5’4″ – 5’7″) and bench heights followed suit regardless of whether they were using wooden, iron clad infill, or iron bodied hand planes.  Reduce my height by 7″ and a 34″ bench height would be close to ideal for me to work at,  but the likes of Chris Schwarz (At approx 6’3″) must suffer when using such low benches.  If not now, he will in future yrs.  What I’ve found over the past 46 + yrs is that if a bench top rests approximately an inch or so below your navel it will tend to be the right height for you and not too far below your centre of gravity.

One tends to find workers with lower benches elevating their work in order to be able to manipulate materials and tools more comfortably, or placing more emphasis upon the use of bodily strength and bearing down onto their work as if trying to force.  Allow the tools to serve their intended purpose and physical exertion lessens to a relatively stress free point of relaxation.

Some recommend users should plane from the legs and hips, but fail to recognise the fact our hands, arms and shoulders play a massive part in controlling the way the plane interacts with materials as both are manipulated beneath our guiding eyes.

Building a marginally taller bench provides leeway to reduce it’s height if necessary and certainly saves potential problems encompassing the use of risers should it prove too short. 😉

Food for thought and very well deserved congratulations on building a lovely looking bench Jeff 🙂