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Thread: Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?

  1. #1
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    Default Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?

    I'm looking at downsizing in a couple years and not having a full-blown shop. While this may seem like a step backwards in my woodworking career I'm looking at it as a step forwards that is a part of a general goal of simplifying life so I (and my family) can concentrate on quality time. I will still have all the power tools required for me to do on site renovation work (or thickness some boards), but at home I'd like to go exclusively hand tools for fun.

    As we will likely move into a condo or apartment I would like to build a small work bench with storage underneath and a wall mounted tool cabinet that could share a spare room with a desk. Good to get this done now while I have all the big tools accessible.

    What I'm interested in is hearing other peoples experiences who have done woodworking out of a small space and if possible any links to pictures of small benches and set-ups?

    Matt
    SPCHT


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?

    Hi Matt.
    I'm trying to build a scaled down version of this bench for my one car garage shop (David Charlesworth bench) http://www.lie-nielsen.com/catalog.php?sku=wb-dc .
    My main reason for going with this style is because, not having much width to play with the most obvious spot for a bench is against one of the walls, so by having a removable tool tray should prove to be handy for clamping things down and clamping stuff across the bench, I'm not doing an exact copy of it as I wanted some tool storage underneath and also a movable bench stop (not sure how I'll make that yet, but it looks pretty easy in one of my books).
    My biggest gripe about small shops, is having to move machines about all the time to make space to set up another tool :( (Or maybe I should just get myself better organized ;) LOL ).

    I’ll try to get some photos later in the week, but it not going to be a pretty sight as I have just started to get back into woodworking after a 4 year break, and a huge amount of crap has built up in there, but the wife just can not bring herself round to letting me dump it ;) .

    Cheer’s…Graham…

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?

    Hi Matt,
    Here's one that could be modified to close up and look like a new piece of handmade furniture, of course your wife would be disapointed. Al
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?

    Matt... I certainly agree with the quality of life, something that has become a priority with me. Getting rid of the power tools is a different issue and would cause me great anguish. I would consider a therapist if I were you.

    Brian
    " It is nice to be important but more important to be nice"

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?

    Check out the April/May 2011 issue of Canadian Woodworking magazine, there's a write up with pictures of an apartment bedroom shop, but alas, no room for a woodworking bench! Hope the apartment you find has big bedrooms!

  7. #7
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    Phil McCurdy

    Default Re: Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?

    Funny you should mention that Arthur. A bench is almost at the top of the todo list for that shop, and I'm watching this thread closely for ideas

    Matt, for what it's worth, this is what I'm thinking so far:
    Workbench-Plan.jpg
    Phil in downtown Clarkson
    Just once I'd like to design a design feature in advance


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?

    Graham,

    I like the idea of the removable tool tray. My present bench does not have one, but I can see the advantages in that design for clamping etc... At the moment I clamp things on a free standing table that is essentially an open grid so It hadn't occurred to me how I would be limited with the bench against a wall.

    Love to see your photos.

    Matt
    SPCHT


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian @ Muir View Post
    Matt... I certainly agree with the quality of life, something that has become a priority with me. Getting rid of the power tools is a different issue and would cause me great anguish. I would consider a therapist if I were you.

    Brian
    Well... I do love my General 350 and General jointer... I'm actually thinking of holding onto them for down the road... they would make great end tables in the mean time.

    Matt
    SPCHT


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?

    Thanks all for the pics and suggestions, Hadn't considered a folding design before.

    I'll have to look up that article in CWW.

    Matt
    SPCHT


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?

    Quote Originally Posted by matt in golden View Post
    Graham,

    I like the idea of the removable tool tray. My present bench does not have one, but I can see the advantages in that design for clamping etc... At the moment I clamp things on a free standing table that is essentially an open grid so It hadn't occurred to me how I would be limited with the bench against a wall.

    Love to see your photos.

    Matt
    Hi Matt.

    just posting a few photo's for you, it's still a long way from being finished, and there are a few things that I am undecided about, but hope the photo's will give you some idea about what I was talking about in my post above.


    Dry fitting the top here, and the base is still looking very untidy and I need to make one more draw plus the draw fronts.
    IMG_1904.jpg



    This one shows the bench top with the tool well removed (coz I have not built it yet) I am very pleased with this style, as it does give a lot of clamping options for when the bench is up against a wall.
    IMG_1905.jpg



    Below is here is how I made the bench stop, It needs some hardware from lee valley to finish it, but I do like the way how you can just slide it up and down as needed. (I got the idea for this out of the workbench book, which is an excellent reference if you want to build your own bench)
    IMG_1906.jpg


    Cheer's...Graham...
    Last edited by Graham in North York; 05-25-2011 at 02:23 PM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian @ Muir View Post
    ... I would consider a therapist if I were you.
    I think Brian hit the nail on the head!

    One thing to consider about your multipurpose bench is stability if you are planning on using only hands tools ... some of those benches look like they'd fall apart on you after an hour of hand sawing or hand planning.

    The other thing you seriously need to consider is what type of projects you want to work on. This will help guide you into what type of bench you want and what features should be built in.

    There is also the mess factor if this were indeed in a condo or something.

    AK

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew_K99 View Post
    I think Brian hit the nail on the head!

    One thing to consider about your multipurpose bench is stability if you are planning on using only hands tools ... some of those benches look like they'd fall apart on you after an hour of hand sawing or hand planning.

    The other thing you seriously need to consider is what type of projects you want to work on. This will help guide you into what type of bench you want and what features should be built in.

    There is also the mess factor if this were indeed in a condo or something.

    AK
    I think I'll likely go with something similar in size to what Phil has pictured, I like the idea of the slab above a box that is close in design to the monster bench I have at the moment.

    The removable tray idea really resonates with me for both clamping and as a place to sweep shavings into to be dumped out later when working in a small space shared with other users. I'm thinking though, I'd like one that lifted out from the top so that I could retain the stability and flatness of one piece without a chunky apron. When it comes down to it I would never actually fold a folding bench up and the design would interfere with storage above and below the work surface. As Andrew has pointed out it may also be a challenge to make stable.

    For clamping I'll likely use the record bench vise and LV adjustable dogs that I both already have. The simple stop that Graham has looks like it would be simple and fit the bill as well.

    For projects I would only be using it for items such as small boxes or at most a small table, I'll also use it for woodcut printmaking which is a hobby I've dabbled with in the past and found quite rewarding. I don't see myself thicknessing boards or anything like that as I'll have my portable planer out in the Work Vehicle.

    Matt
    SPCHT


  14. #14
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    Robert

    Default Re: Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?

    A friend of mine moved into a condo and they had a small wood shop in the basement for any of the building occupants to use. Was not huge or anything and had mostly Hobby-grade equipment, but he built a small workbench with locking drawers for his hand tools and put it into the work room. Seemed worth mentioning in this post.

    Robert.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Compact Woodworking Benches and Small Shops?

    Hand tools in an apartment or condo will be interesting but eminently doable. First item may be dust control.

    The bench and storage will probably have to take into consideration what you will be doing, portability and how many tools there are.

    A bench can be built that has a tall top section cantilevered out to provide storage for ???

    Consider a trailer workshop in conjunction with the regular tools you are using.
    Egon
    from
    The South Shore, Nova Scotia

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