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  • Are these workbench proportions okay?

    Hi all,

    I'm about to undertake a journey to build my own (and very first) workbench from pine. The issue is that I would have the bench in the garage during the warmer months, then bring it inside into the basement during the colder months. So with that said, I gotta be mindful with weight (something two people could carry down a set of stairs).

    I'm about 6'1", so I'd prefer a bench with an overall height of 36" or so. For length, I was thinking 48". And for width/depth, something like 18-20". Plus I'll be adding a quick release vise on one of the long faces.

    Yes, this would be a smaller bench than most of what people seem to have, but I'm just a hobbyist and only working on small projects during evenings and weekends for fun.

    So my question is, would these dimensions be awkward? Is the bench too tall, given a shorter length and depth? Would it affect the stability of the bench dramatically?



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  • #2

    Re: Are these workbench proportions okay?

    I have 3 benches currently. One in my shop(1/2 garage) one in my basement shop(Laundry room) and one in my cabin shop (10x12 shed) I don't know anything more about benches than you do. My favorite place to work on projects is in my garage shop on the Unisaw 4 x 5 extension table.
    I can give you advice...Whatever you build for a bench you will want to make changes shortly after it's finished. I will not ever build another very heavy bench. My garage bench is probably up around 400 lbs. I have looked closely at Ron Paulks idea's regarding benches and I like them...have a look.
    paulsz and Beaverfever1988 like this.

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    • #3

      Re: Are these workbench proportions okay?

      A depth of 20” is plenty. I’d try to go a little longer if you can. I have a 72” long bench and find myself wishing it was a bit longer on occasion.
      KenL, Kayak Jim and 2 others like this.

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      • #4

        Re: Are these workbench proportions okay?

        Height is largely decided by your own height and what kind of work you tend to do. Power tool users tend to prefer a different height than hand tool users.

        One thought: if you think creatively about it, I bet you could come up with a way to make the entire top easily detachable, yet rock solid when in place. Figure out a way to do that, and then you could transport the bench in two parts, which would allow you to make a heavier and bigger Bench over all.

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        • #5

          Re: Are these workbench proportions okay?

          Best advice I have seen for sizing a workbench.....
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBS5-AV81lg
          The difference between a master and a beginner: The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.

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          • #6

            Re: Are these workbench proportions okay?

            I just finished mine lately about the same size as yours but 60" long and wanted to have the possibility to remove the top if ever I have to move it from my shop. So I made the base and fixed the top with 4 lag screws and washers. Its pretty solid!

            Here's a link to my complete build if it interest you to see it.

            https://www.lamortaise.com/forum/tec...tabli?start=15

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            paulsz likes this.

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            • #7

              Re: Are these workbench proportions okay?

              First figure out how the bench will be moved. Brute force, appliance truck or wheels and skids for steps? Decide on that and then size to suit your dimensions and weight for moving.

              Consider a bench for each area.
              Egon
              from
              The South Shore, Nova Scotia

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              • #8

                Re: Are these workbench proportions okay?

                As others have said, height is a dimension affected by your height, and what you want to do on it.

                For me, a bench needs to be about 6 foot long by 30 inches wide to fit my work pieces.

                My bench has 2 slabs about 12" wide X 3" thick, separated by a 6 inch wide tool tray. I have the wide double screw LV vise on the end and a side vise, also consider a deadman for holding up boards.

                My bench comes apart with lag bolts and bed bolts for the base, however moving those slabs is not for the faint of heart, I wouldn't want to carry those up and down the stairs.

                regards, Rod.
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                KenL likes this.
                Work is the curse of the riding class.

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                • #9

                  Re: Are these workbench proportions okay?

                  Thanks for the input everyone! I will have a look at your build thread Jackmaya and will definitely consider lag bolts for my bench top
                  Last edited by paulsz; 05-17-2019, 02:54 PM.

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                  • #10

                    Re: Are these workbench proportions okay?

                    Originally posted by paulsz View Post
                    Thanks for the input everyone! I will have a look at your build thread Jackmaya and will definitely consider lag bolts for my bench top
                    I would also suggest the lag bolts. With a solid enough top, it will not be an issue for stability. Thick enough legs and stringers will also prevent any racking, especially important if you are using hand tools (planes put a lot of force on the bench - get some "sticky" feet if you are on a surface the bench will easily slide around on.

                    I'm 6'4 and I built the rob cosman 100$ workbench (basic idea) and I have a 60x24 top, on which my current project is a 40x84 tabletop.

                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtyrGlVWiTA

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                    • #11

                      Re: Are these workbench proportions okay?

                      Here's the idea. If you look at most books you will find out that for the most part benches and countertops are set at 36 inches. That is the "standard" size for kitchens and things like this.

                      Now I have a bench at 36 inches tall and I find it a little low. My next one will likely be around 40 to 42 inches. See when you use a vice "Which is a good idea" you drop down your work and that will make you have a sore back because you will be working on something below that optimal range.

                      Now I don't have any difficulty with working higher.

                      On the size of the table top. I usually buy a piece of 3/4 inch plywood if I need a bigger tabletop and I clamp it down to my workbench. If I need to hammer on it then I will move what ever I am hammering on above the legs if I can.

                      My bench is 3 feet wide by 6 feet long. I can go all the way around the bench so I never really need to reach over 18 inches... Well in theory and theory is well... in practice... Just theory. So I sometimes do need to climb onto my bench but it's super rare.

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                      • #12

                        Re: Are these workbench proportions okay?

                        Originally posted by bogmer View Post
                        Here's the idea. If you look at most books you will find out that for the most part benches and countertops are set at 36 inches. That is the "standard" size for kitchens and things like this.
                        Standard height for hand tool benches is much lower. With power tools you're mostly working with your elbows folded, holding the power tool on top of the work. Power tool work also tends to be closer to your face so you can see what you're doing. With planes and other tools for coarse work (like mortising) that require power your arms are straighter and you're bending forward putting a lot of weight behind what you do, so ideally the bench is lower. If you're doing fine work with chisels for example it's better to work higher, but that's usually when you support your work on a hand tool bench, or else the work will be partially assembled anyway, so higher. Ideal bench height really depends what kind of work you do.
                        Frank
                        SPCHT

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                        • #13

                          Re: Are these workbench proportions okay?

                          Every horizontal surface in my shop is the same height. That height is equal to my table saw because It is much easier to slide an object than lift it to raise or lower it to different heights.
                          "Do it Right!"

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                          • #14

                            Re: Are these workbench proportions okay?

                            Originally posted by Rusty View Post
                            Every horizontal surface in my shop is the same height. That height is equal to my table saw because It is much easier to slide an object than lift it to raise or lower it to different heights.
                            Good one, especially if you use the table saw a lot and have a small shop. The worst is having the bench and inch higher and then not being able to cut large pieces without moving it (or the table saw)
                            Last edited by Frank D.; 05-21-2019, 10:33 AM.
                            Frank
                            SPCHT

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                            • #15

                              Re: Are these workbench proportions okay?

                              Originally posted by Frank D. View Post

                              Standard height for hand tool benches is much lower. With power tools you're mostly working with your elbows folded, holding the power tool on top of the work. Power tool work also tends to be closer to your face so you can see what you're doing. With planes and other tools for coarse work (like mortising) that require power your arms are straighter and you're bending forward putting a lot of weight behind what you do, so ideally the bench is lower. If you're doing fine work with chisels for example it's better to work higher, but that's usually when you support your work on a hand tool bench, or else the work will be partially assembled anyway, so higher. Ideal bench height really depends what kind of work you do.
                              That's why I said "standard" size is 36 inches. As Rusty pointed out in his post above me his surfaces are all the same height. The tablesaws are set at about 36 inches or mine is. My bench is at 36 inches and is on wheels so I can move it to be an outfeed table for the tablesaw.

                              My next bench will be higher because I found that my back hurts so I will set the next one higher... I can always cut it down if I don't like it I can't really add height and I can always sell off the bench and make a new one.

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