I was wondering if anyone had any experience with mini workbenches for working on smaller projects inside? I live in a cold climate and the garage climate is pretty much below freezing all winter so I don’t really get to work on much but I do have a home office and a table I can work on but it lacks a vise and isn’t a surface I’d want to directly use chisels on.
I’m considering building something like this https://www.woodcraft.com/products/sjobergs-smart-workstation-pro as I already have an Irwin 6 1/2″ vice and just clamp it down to my table. My thinking is that it’d be enough to practice dovetails and small things like the craftsman-style lamp. But before I try to build this I am wondering if anyone has tried this and what their thoughts on it are. My other option is to wait till summer and just build a smaller version of Paul’s workbench to replace the table I’d be clamping to.
It’s a fairly common practice to also have a smaller bench, albeit not necessarily inside the house.
Assembly benches, carving benches, joinery benches — are smaller benches (well, the assembly bench is sometimes larger) which work in conjunction with the standard workbench. They’re made differently than a standard workbench to reflect their purpose and complement the standard workbench, as opposed to competing with it.
If you have a long winter, or want to complete a wide variety of projects, maybe another standard workbench is the right way to go. Certainly “I have too much workbench space” was spoken by no woodworker, ever. But a complementary bench might be something which gets you through the winter, and also enhances your woodworking during the rest of the year in a way that more of the same workbenches cannot.
For example, if you like to carve, a dedicated carving bench has features that put it head and shoulders above a standard workbench, yet it can serve as a general workbench for some projects. A joinery bench is a much more comfortable workstation for joinery — + imagine a workbench-sized moxon vise — and the height makes for far less back and eye strain when doing joinery. While you wouldn’t probably wouldn’t find that height optimal for doing lots of dimensioning or assembly on tall projects, you could certainly do some.
Just food for thought
I have done this. A few years ago, I stayed in a serviced apartment for about 6 months. As I couldn’t have anything larger, I made a small bench-top bench like the mini-Sjobergs bench. It just fitted in a suitcase, together with a small selection of tools – plane, marking knife, combination square, couple of chisels, handsaw and sharpening stones. Although it wasn’t that good at clamping things firmly, it did work. I made several small boxes with it. I also had a bench hook that I used on a countertop to saw at. If this is your only option, it’s better than nothing. Have you seen the “Milkman’s bench” (https://www.popularwoodworking.com/woodworking-blogs/the-milkmans-workbench-in-use/)? That’s an alternative to the Sjoberg-style bench, but would take a bit more effort to make. You could also look at the ‘roman workbench’ – a bench you sit on and work at (https://www.mortiseandtenonmag.com/blogs/blog/final-day-of-the-roman-workbench-build).
Thanks for the responses, definitely some food for thought. It sounds like a mini workbench would be a good option… and a larger freestanding bench would be too. Not sure which I’ll do but I know with an air temp of -30F/-34C it’s not happening any time soon 🙂
[quote quote=555165]This bench was a popular build a couple of years ago.
I really like that bench. Not for inside work, but I could see clamping it to the end of a picnic table when we’re out camping. That bench and Paul’s 10 essential tools and I could keep myself entertained for hours!
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