OK, so I’ve run my mouth a few times here, and everyone has been great. This is truly a great community, and so I figured this would be as good a place as any to document every step of my workbench project.
First, a bit of background. I will probably not start this until moving into the new house with it’s 6’x6’ storage room that will be my workshop. It’s going to be…cozy I guess…in that room. I’ve opted to use hand tools primarily (documented in another series of mine). My workbench will need to refect this need.
In his blog, Chris Schwarz points out that different types of tools require different types of benches. A power tool user generally just needs a flat surface. Hand tool users, on the other hand, need more purpose built benches. Now, I haven’t read Chris’ book…yet (ordering it Friday), but some basic design principles he mentions on his blog is dimensions. 24” is the narrowest, and 5’ is the shortest, at least in his opinion. However, I don’t have a 20×20 shop. Hell, I don’t even have a 10×10 either!
His logic on 24” is sound. This is the width of a cabinet, likely to be the deepest piece we ever work on. Now, I don’t plan on building cabinets, at least not yet. However, 20” seems plenty deep for what I want to work on (fine furniture). The 5’ length is another tricky one. At 5’, I will have some difficulty accessing any tail vise I install except from the side of the bench. I have to decide if that’s a problem for me or not. I’m suspecting not, so 5’ sounds possible for me.
The bench needs to be sturdy and heavy since I’ll be using it for planing, cutting, chiseling, and all kinds of other woodworksie-type activities. However, I need to make it cheaply too. I’m just starting out, and I’m not comfortable spending $1000 on wood for a workbench. Luckily, Schwarz actually suggests Southern Yellow Pine for a bench. In particular, IIRC, 2×4’s and such from Lowes and Home Depot. Now, that’s right up my alley!
As for design, I’ll have to wait for the book to get here. I like the looks of the English workbench, but I really shouldn’t settle on a design style just yet. Dimensions are one thing, since I know the size of the space I’ll have to work with. But the design will take into account a lot of factors that I probably don’t even realize just yet.
The only vise system I’ve settled on is a leg vise. It’s inexpensive, and it looks like it’ll do what I want it to do. As for some form of tail vise, I’m honestly lost. I’m hoping the book will help me out there as well.
Obviously, there’s a lot to think about. I fully expect to have to build another workbench at some point in the future that better fits “me”. Unfortunately, right now I’m clueless as to what that would be. Still, it’ll be one hell of a ride finding out!
-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!