Bench height

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    Ron Harper

    There are a whole lot of folks using low benches. If floor space permits, does it make sense to have a lower bench dedicated to planing, and a taller bench for other stuff?


    Hi Ron,

    In all honesty I prefer a taller bench, as it helps avoid back fatigue when working for long periods.  For myself (Standing at 6’2″) this means a working surface at 39″ (Belt buckle/just below belly button height in my case), but there’s no one size fits all or regulation height that everyone can work to.  I’d be positively bent double all day if working to Chris Schwarz’s formula for calculating bench heights and in a world of pain after a long stint at my benches.  We all differ in physique (Torso length, arm length, leg length, etc., physical condition and how various types of work can fatigue our bodies in different ways.

    I’d err on the side of crafting a new bench reasonably high, but with the intention of reducing it’s height if need be.  If a bench proves too low, it can always be heightened, but I prefer bench legs without heels 😀

    George Bridgeman

    I think having two benches would get pretty annoying – you’d be walking from one to the other the whole time and probably end up mostly using just one of them. Gary’s advice is spot on. Start with a bench on the high side of what you think you’ll need, then reduce down if you find it too high. That’s what I did when building my bench (using Paul’s course). I’m a touch taller than 6’1″ and build my bench with a 39″ height originally but reduced it to 38″ after finding it a bit tall. I much prefer it now and if I do reduce it any further it’ll be by a half inch at most.


    "To know and not do is to not know"


    As I have no option to test drive workbenches in different heights before I build my own my plan is to build the workbench top first. Then I place it on sturdy sawhorses and place some 2x4s between to adjust to different heights. I hope that this will give me some insight to what lenght my legs should be when finished.

    Using Chris Schwarz rule of thumb for me seems a bit to low. I think my back will take more punishment than it will save my arms. As I understand it that is Chris thought behind using a lower bench – to reduce the work performed by your arms, transfering that load to the legs.

    There is also the strategy to use a removable moxon twin screw vise that you clamp to your benchtop when sawing dovetails and other tasks that needs to come up a bit. See this article for some more info on that: Declaring Victory with the Double-screw Vise

    Located in Jönköping, Sweden.


    I’m 5′ 9” and I find a bench hight of 35 1/2” just right for me. The higher bench also helped to stop me planing a taper into my timber

    Rob Young

    Oh what the heck, here are a few semi-random thoughts
    I have settled on a bench at home that is around wrist bone height, not at the pistiform, not under, not 3/16″ over, just around. Don’t know what that is in inches, don’t care what it is in inches. Wouldn’t be the same for you anyway. I tend to NOT stoop over at this height bench (I’m 6′ 4″) for two reasons. First, I wear glasses and this pair is set up for best vision correction from about 10″ to arms length — without them I may as well be blind. Mostly this is for work reasons, but it also means I can see fine details without needing to stoop over at the bench. And second, for those times I do need to lower my body (typically to get the right angle or motion for sawing) I will widen my stance or move my leg back a bit as this can drop you 4″ or more without discomfort . If I need more change in height than that, then I’ll consider stooping, crouching or just modifying my work area to suit.
    Having either a wood floor (no longer for me) or a good anti-fatigue mat (horse stall mat) works wonders. That and good lighting, both overall diffuse to minimize shadows (layout and joinery work) and some directional task lighting so you can work with a glancing light as needed (finishing and surface inspections) will make for a much more pleasant experience at your custom height bench.
    PS tosses around the very descriptive phrase “my creative space” of which the bench, its height, construction and accouterments, are only part of the equation. So don’t get too hung up on measuring benches. If it feels right for you, it is right for you.
    (By the way, “pistiform” is that little bone on the lateral side of your wrist that juts out just a little bit as you transition from the wrist to forearm. Now go use that word in three conversations the rest of the day.)


    I’ve used “pistiform” three times already and it’s not yet 7 a.m. 😀


    You can have both in the same floor space. I started woodworking building boats, doing lots of planing type work on long boards. A long low (Schwarz height) bench serves that we.. However, for carving, a Bench On Bench, sits atop the low bench and puts work at the right height. When not in use, the B.O.B goes under the low bench.


    I’m currently taking Paul’s month long course in Wales and I’m working at bench designed for someone who is 6’4″ (Paul’s apprentice) and I find that it works, but ideally, I find the correct height to be the one where your arm is close to parallel to the floor when sawing and one where you don’t have to bend over to work the wood. Of course I don’t have much experience yet, but that is what is comfortable for me.

    Brent Ingvardsen

    Im 6’6″ and my bench is 39″. Works for me…

    Meridianville, Alabama, USA

    Ron Harper


    I agree, but I have the floor space to allow for a joinery bench of about 40 in by 2 ft that will be 42 in tall. I find that much more convenient than the B.O.B.



    The good thing is benches can be heightened or lowered to suit our individual preferences 🙂

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