Workbench heavy on one side?
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- This topic has 3 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 4 years, 7 months ago by Brian A.
I resurrected an old partly finished bench to a form closer to Paul’s design. The bench has the leg assembly and parts of the top reused, but the final top is close to Paul’s design: A 13″ wide lamination of 2×4’s and a 8″ wide tool well and the aprons on both sides are 9″ deep. The leg assembly is not held together by the aprons, so its more for appearance and for having a wide front face. And moved from the cold and damp garage to a room in basement as the plan is to spend more time working with wood (thanks to a newly found enthusiasm from Paul’s videos and blogs).
Now, after attaching the vise (9″ eclipse) I feel the bench is too heavy on the front and can tip forward when the vise is fully open and pressed down.
Has anyone experienced this? To make matters worse, the new location is carpeted so the bench is a bit wobbly when worked on. I plan to remove the carpet and use the concrete floor underneath, but not sure whether that alone will be enough to reduce the tendency to tip to the heavier side.
It sounds like your base is too narrow, and you may have space between the legs and the apron? If so, one solution would be to attach new legs sized to bridge the gap between the legs and the aprons (or depending on how big that gap is, they could also be attached to the old legs via stringers). This will widen the ‘stance’ of the bench and also gain stability to lateral shear forces, which is the main job of the aprons.
Another tip is to add weight to the bottom of the bench. Adding a low shelf and putting weight on it would do that.
A third, non-preferred last resort, would be to add feet projecting out from the base of the legs. They will get in the way, so they should taper from a triangle at the base of the leg outward to become very flat, and only go as far as needed to stabilize, so you will trip on them less frequently.
The leg frame is 21″ wide and the aprons (1.5″ each) are dadoed into it by 1/2″ each so the total width is 23″. There is no space between aprons and legs but yes the overall bench is narrower than usual with laminated portion 13″ (similar to Paul’s) and well only 8″. Even without the aprons the leg assembly is solid and the aprons add some extra stability.
But your reasoning sounds spot on and this could be due to the overall narrow frame. The suggestion to add projections to the feet sounds interesting but if adding weight to the bottom doesn’t work I may just widen the leg frame…sigh.
In retrospect, too many not well-thought out variations from Paul’s design, though I was constrained by the desire to reuse existing base.
First, I’ve to get the carpet removed to get a solid floor.
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