11 June 2016 at 1:07 pm #137761
I’ve moved recently and am living in a rental house for a year. I’ve got a single car garage to do my woodworking in but I had to leave my bench across the country.
My old bench was the Paul Sellers design from youtube and I liked it a lot but I learned some things working on it. For instance the tool well let me pile up tools and lose them and the 3′ wide surface (2-4X12 beams separated by a 2X12 well) was mostly wasted.
I want to stick with Paul’s design for the undercarriage. It was strong, rigid, but allows me to be quite versatile in experimenting with the top.
I’m considering building a shorter, narrower bench for this house. I’ve considered using the design from Paul’s “Working Wood” book, which has one laminated beam bench top with a well behind it, or creating a wider laminated beam, say 18″ or so with a narrower well behind that. Alternatively I have considered building one wide laminated beam, say 24″ with a small vertical tool rack placed just inside the apron of the far edge.
I’m also considering only fastening the top on the vise side of the bench to the undercarriage, leaving 8″ to 10″ of top next to the offside apron where I can experiment with loose beams, tool racks, tool wells, etc without having to tear half the bench apart.
Any thoughts or experiences with different bench top layouts?
I do mostly small work right now but I’m interested in starting some larger pieces this year.
Why yes, as a matter of fact I HAVE been accused of over thinking before. Why do you ask?
Hubert, NC11 June 2016 at 3:52 pm #137762Joe KaiserParticipant
Hey John! I’m glad to hear you made it over there. That wood you gave me has been a pleasure to have. Thank you!
Onto the bench: I have the shorter version you are talking about (see it here http://roughsawn.net/shop-update/). The overall dimensions are 5′ long and 24″ wide. (The work surface is just about 13″ wide). I *often* find myself wishing it was bigger. I do plan on cutting my tool well in half though. That would give me about another 6″ of work surface I could use.
Although 6′ would be a nice to have, I am not going to build another bench for an extra foot.
If I was going to build a new bench, it would be 6′ long and a solid top with a removable baton in the middle like this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvhn-PAfEW4 . I would still have a vise attached, but I don’t need a tool well and having different options to hold your work down is always good.
Just think about what you would be making and how you plan on holding the work. I kind of rambled on, but hopefully some of that helped.
Seattle, WA11 June 2016 at 6:58 pm #137764
I saw that split top bench with the baton in the video and decided not to bring that up. But it’s exactly what got me to thinking about a wider bench top.
Thanks for the picture of your bench. That’s the design I started from in my head and on paper. The bench I built in Washington had the slab with the vice at about the same width as yours. I really think that IF any change is called for then it would be to make that wider and either push the well back a bit or make it narrower
I was considering a 4′ bench. My reservation is not so much space as it is mass. I don’t think that would be heavy enough.
Again, thanks for the response. Just the kind of real world experience I was looking for.
Hubert, NC11 June 2016 at 8:26 pm #137766Joe KaiserParticipant
I think mass would be a problem on a 4′ bench. It is a small problem on mine. I am considering adding a bottom platform and putting some sandbags on it. You could always do the same
Seattle, WA11 June 2016 at 9:14 pm #137767Salko SaficParticipant
Getting that perfect workbench is a never ending struggle, I think as your experience grows and the work that you do will dictate what type of bench and size you will need. I think no one can ever advise you on what type of bench you need and I know you cannot purchase the ideal bench in any woodworking store and the benches I have seen are flimsy over priced toys. Paul’s bench for me isn’t ideal, it wouldn’t work for me as I have one I use in my shop and have always been extremely frustrated with it. That’s me and Paul is Paul it works for him but not for me that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Find your own path and to do that you will have to gain some experience first.
The Lost Scrolls of HANDWORK
(Hand tool only woodworking magazine)11 June 2016 at 10:21 pm #137768Peter GeorgeParticipant
The work surface on my bench is 5 feet x 20 inches with a 8 inch tool well on the back side. I didn’t use aprons. The bench works well for me.
"New York is big, but this is Biggar"28 July 2016 at 5:29 pm #138926ColevalleytimParticipant
hope this information doesn’t find you after the new bench is completed.
Mass can be a problem with small workbenches, based on some cursory research for my newly modified bench, DougFir weighs about 3lbs a bdft at 10% moisture. so you can do some math and estimate how much a smaller bench weighs, anything approaching 200lbs should stay put.
As for the two piece top idea, great idea. It will make the bench easier to move in the future. The top can be secured with dowel pins. All of the European style cabinet benches I’ve worked on have used the dowel method.29 July 2016 at 11:42 am #138935
I’m curious about the “dowel method” of securing the top. Have you got a link showing me what you’re talking about? I googled but the closest I found used drywall screws to hold the bench together. I’m just going to leap to the conclusion that’s not what you meant.
I don’t think mass, or the lack thereof, will be a problem. I can barely lift the 3.5″X20″X60″ yellow pine slab that is the top and the 10″ Eclipse vise that arrived yesterday is no lightweight! Add on the two 2″X12″X60″ aprons and the 4″X3″ legs and I don’t think I’m going to have a lot of trouble with this thing being too mobile!
I am interested in the dowel method though. I was planning on using lag screws way Paul did on his youtube bench.
Hubert, NC29 July 2016 at 3:32 pm #138938David PerrottParticipant
The dowel method would be require having small dowels on the cross stretcher and then a hole on the bottom on the bench top for it to fit in. I don’t think it would make much sense on the P.S. bench. The apron is screwed on so just taking off the top won’t do much since. I am currently building a Moravian workbench since it can be broken down.30 July 2016 at 4:08 pm #138946ColevalleytimParticipant
David is correct. But there is an easy work around for the PS bench.
Euro Style or Continental style workbenches used one or two 3/4-1″ dowel pegs to keep the top in place on the undercarriage.
A PS could easily be adapted to a knockdown bench. (1) the bench pieces drop onto the bearers over 3/4″ dowel pegs (the pegs in the tool tray could protrude through and be cut flush). (2) The aprons are aligned with the top using dowels and then are secured to the legs with counter sunk hex bolts. Chris Schwarz and Co have a similar bench referred to as a Nicholson workbench. Google Knockdown Nicholson workbench, you’ll see lots of examples1 August 2016 at 9:20 pm #138987STEVE MASSIEParticipant
So far after almost 3 years my Paul Sellers style 59 1/2″ X 20″ with a 6″ tool well has worked for me and is quite sturdy it does not dance around the floor. I will build another one day but try and build it at 72″ in lieu of 59 1/2″. I have added some dog holes and with my Record 52 1/2 front vise lined with leather works great.
Steve Massie, I live in the great State of Florida, US3 August 2016 at 2:40 pm #139038deanbeckerParticipant
My outside bench is a P.S. 5&1/2 ft and is really nice .i also have a small bench in the house for bad weather working it is 4&1/2 ft and is two 12 in 2×4 glue Liam’s glues together with a 4 in back on it the back has been doubled and slotted for chisels and such it is in a tiny space but
IT is great for cutting parts . I can assemble smaller projects. I.e. A chair and coffee table so far but bigger stuff has to be assembled in the living room. A
I Have a very good wife.3 August 2016 at 4:15 pm #139044Thomas AngleParticipant
You might want to look at a Moravian style bench. I built one because it is easily broken down to move. I found the design to be solid bench. The nice part is one man can move it anywhere.
13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.3 August 2016 at 4:59 pm #139048STEVE MASSIEParticipant
My Wife gave me the over sized 2 car garage for my shop, but will not let me take one of the spare rooms for a inside A/C shop.
Steve Massie, I live in the great State of Florida, US
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