Building a Bench Rest for Wood Turning #1: Genesis of the Idea and the Basic Design

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Blog entry by RichCMD posted 05-29-2016 05:28 PM 509 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Building a Bench Rest for Wood Turning series no next part

I am one of those people who have trouble standing for very long. Although I love woodturning, standing at the lathe for a long period can become very painful. A back support helps some, but even with the support I can still have problems. Taking ibuprofen can extend how long I can stand, but I dislike routinely taking it as it can be hard on the stomach.

I first came upon the idea of using a bench rest in an article by Ernie Conover in the May/June 2014 issue of Woodworkers Journal. He discusses and shows his design in the video Using a Bench while Woodturning . I liked his idea, but I am a little heftier than Ernie, and somehow his design just looked too fragile for me. (In retrospect, I now think my concerns were unwarranted.)

The weaver’s benches posted by thejaz ( and cracknpop ( gave me the idea that something similar might work for a bench rest to use with a lathe. Also, I like the knock-down design of the one that cracknpop built because it meant I could haul the thing with me to woodturning classes. In the end, what I built looks a lot like his weaver’s bench. The one big difference is that instead of allowing the top to rock, my lathe bench rest has the slightly slanted seat the Ernie Conover describes in his video.

Another thing I had to consider was the tools I had available. My shop is set up more for wood turning than for doing “flat work”. I do not have a table saw, jointer or thickness planer. To keep things simple, I decided to use dimensioned lumber from the big box stores. That pretty much limited my choice of wood, and I chose red oak as being the best of what they had available.

In my next installment I will include some scans of my hand drawn design and discuss my adventures building the lathe bench.

-- Men admire the man who can organize their wishes and thoughts in stone and wood and steel and brass. Ralph Waldo Emerson

1 comment so far

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2758 days

#1 posted 05-30-2016 03:14 PM

This very good. I have been wishing I could sit in my Lazyboy recliner while turning, but there’s just not enough room. Seriously, I also have a real bad back and I’m all for anything that can keep me at the lathe. Unfortunately I don’t have room for something like this in my shop, but I think it is really an excellent idea.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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