Workbench Vibration

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  • #758585
    Keith Bartelson
    Participant

    Hi All,

    I’m new to woodworking and I just finished building Paul’s updated workbench and could use some advice. It was a great project, however I am now concerned that I did something wrong as I am noticing the top will vibrate side to side when tapped on at the end with a fist or even sometimes while planing using the vice even though the legs remain in place on the floor. It’s almost like a sway/vibration side to side, maybe not more than a 1/16” or 1/8” of deflection. I don’t think I’d necessarily call it racking, but I may not completely understand racking. But the bench legitimately recoils like a spring when tapped on the end of the workbench and the legs remain in place on the floor.

    The bench top is a bit thicker than the recommended dimensions (~3 1/4” as opposed to 2 3/8”) and the legs ended up being a bit thinner (3” x 2 3/4” and opposed to 3 3/4” x 2 3/4”). I made the aprons a bit wider to accommodate the extra inch or so of bench top thickness, however they were also a bit thinner than the recommended dimension due to some lumber movement that forced more planing. The bench also is maybe 7/8” taller than the recommended dimension of 38”.

    Strange thing is that before the bench was fully assembled and I installed the wellboard, I did some aggressive planing on the wellboard on the bench (which had several knots) and I don’t ever recall seeing this kind of vibration. It’s only with the bench fully assembled that this vibration is observed. Of note also is that I had to really beat the wellboard into place with a mallet – it did not slide in easily. Not sure if that is normal or could be creating a problem.

    I’m worried that I just wasted a lot of time and material! Is what I’m observing normal? If not, is it easily repaired?

    Some things I’ve already checked that have been recommended:

    1. Wedges are in place and seem secure. The dimension was also adjusted to accommodate the slightly thicker bench top. I did remove the bolts and try to wedge them in further – they didn’t move much.
    2. Someone recommended I bore the holes for the carriage bolts larger to ensure the leg isn’t pivoting against the bolt. I removed all the bolts and used the bench and still observe the vibration.
    3. The legs all appear to be square to each other and measure as such. I did have to shim the bench significantly to level it out, but again, it is not moving all across the floor.

    Should this bench have absolutely zero movement, or is this common? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    -Keith

    #758743
    Ed
    Participant

    I’ve not built one of Paul’s benches, but I think he has published several versions over the years. It might help others to answer if you could post a link to the version that you built to help us know exactly which one. Also, have you tried all of the things suggested in Paul’s blog where you asked for help? He mentioned the importance of gluing the aprons, but it sounded like you didn’t do that. On this bench, is the well board glued in? Could you remove it? I’m wondering if pounding it in distorted and loosened some of the joinery, so I’d like to know if it can be removed and then if you can examine the bench.

    #759314
    Benoît Van Noten
    Participant

    “Should this bench have absolutely zero movement,”
    No.
    Nothing is infinitely rigid.
    I have hit the end of my workbench to reproduce what you have done.
    It of course react to the blow but any vibration is nearly immediately dampened.
    1/16″ is not much. It will of course depend how hard you hit your workbench. (although I don’t see the point of doing that).

    I have made my workbench with recycled wood. Not any dimension is exactly what P.S. was proposing as they all were adapted to the material available.
    IMO no dimension is critical.

    In the blog you mentioned vibration while planing against the grain.

    Sharpness is a cure to most problems.

    Make also sure that the cutting iron is not rounded at the very tip of it (that might happen while inadequately stropping). If the very tip is rounded there might not be any relief angle anymore. This would require you to push very hard vertically on the plane to get a shaving in the middle of the board. (I say in the middle because the plane will always succeed to byte the board if starting from the edge of it.)

    #759315
    Benoît Van Noten
    Participant

    “Should this bench have absolutely zero movement,”
    No.
    Nothing is infinitely rigid.
    I have hit the end of my workbench to reproduce what you have done.
    It of course react to the blow but any vibration is nearly immediately dampened.
    1/16″ is not much. It will of course depend how hard you hit your workbench. (although I don’t see the point of doing that).

    I have made my workbench with recycled wood. Not any dimension is exactly what P.S. was proposing as they all were adapted to the material available.
    IMO no dimension is critical.

    In the blog you mentioned vibration while planing against the grain.

    Sharpness is a cure to most problems.

    Make also sure that the cutting iron is not rounded at the very tip of it (that might happen while inadequately stropping). If the very tip is rounded there might not be any relief angle anymore. This would require you to push very hard vertically on the plane to get a shaving in the middle of the board. (I say in the middle because the plane will always succeed to byte the board if starting from the edge of it.)

    #759463
    Benoît Van Noten
    Participant
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