I know many of you likely use your workbench for both hand-tool and power-tool work, some because you lack the space for two dedicated stations, others because they simply have not seen the advantages of having a true “power-tool workstation”, and still others may not have a “true” hand-tool bench and use one “make-shift” bench for everything.
Myself, I fell into the third category for a long time, but all that is about to change. I will be making myself a ‘Power-Tool Workstation” before my hand-tool workbench is complete. Why? Because it will make many aspects of building the hand-tool bench much easier. I am not against using power-tools to build a hand-tool bench, and frankly, I feel a router can cut tenons faster and more accurately than I can on the large timbers I will be using, or at least clean them up after I remove the bulk with a handsaw and backsaw. It will also clean out a mortise faster than a chisel or brace and bit in most cases. The opposite may be true for some, but not for me.
I saw a video from Fine Woodworking a while back on their “Power-Tool Workbench”, and the idea really got me thinking. It sucks dragging a vacuum hose over the edge of a bench while sanding, as well it sucks being bent over while running an RO sander for more than five or ten minutes.(I have a really bad back, so it makes it worse)
Power tools work better when used on a taller bench than you would with hand-tools. They also have cords and vacuum hoses that get in the way badly if not dealt with. Then you have the problem of where to put the vacuum, it tipping over as you drag it around by it’s short hose, it gets caught on the vise handles, the list of downfalls to using power-tools on a hand-tool bench is almost endless.
The Fine Woodworking Power-Tool Bench solves, or helps with, most all of these problems in very convenient ways.
If you are not familiar with this “Power-Tool Bench”, have a look at the video on it HERE.
I’m going to look into building the top section into a downdraft table that I can plug my duct collector into while retaining the clamping system and contained shop-vac. I thing with a bit of careful designing, it will be possible. It may not be ideal, but it’ll will definitely be better than nothing!
I feel this will help me make the most out of my work-bench without needing to make sacrifices on it’s design to accommodate power-tool use. Let’s face it, hand-tool benches work best when they are a no-compromise design. And having a proper bench to help make the most of your power tools will make them work better for you too, and will help a lot when machining the parts and pieces for the hand-tool bench itself.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, stay safe in your shops and enjoy woodworking!