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Why have an open bottom workbench?

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Forum topic by nordichomey posted 05-02-2010 03:08 AM 3652 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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nordichomey

100 posts in 2566 days


05-02-2010 03:08 AM

Simple question… Why do so many cabinet maker workbench designs have an open bottom? I want to build a new bench and it got me to wondering… why do so many workbench designs have open bottoms? Why not build a bench with storage?

Anybody know the history of the workbench designs?

-- nordichomey


32 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

115202 posts in 3041 days


#1 posted 05-02-2010 03:12 AM

Benches are like many things there built or purchased according to each individual’s likes and dislikes and budget and skill level enters into the question also. There are many benches with storage available . It’s all up to an individuals taste.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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northwoodsman

242 posts in 3211 days


#2 posted 05-02-2010 03:21 AM

in my opinion the number one reason is that you normally have holes in the top for bench dogs. With a bench dog in place it is very difficult to pull out drawers. With holes in the top you also get a LOT of saw dust in the storage area. Also if you spill something, it will end up in what ever you are storing below. Don’t ask me how I know these various things, just take my word for it. I wish I would have asked the same question many years ago.

-- NorthWoodsMan

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Drew

304 posts in 2564 days


#3 posted 05-02-2010 03:43 AM

Room for your legs while sitting on a stool.

-- TruCraftFurniture.com

View Marc5's profile

Marc5

304 posts in 2806 days


#4 posted 05-02-2010 03:47 AM

I am getting ready to build a new bench wondered the same thing. As I read it appears that traditionally the bench was a place to work and their tools were stored in their tool chest. Thankfully the traditional bench is alive and well. This just goes to show you that it has been hard to improve this simplistic design as it is basically unchanged thru the generations Well at least this is what I am getting out of it. If you notice those who have a open bottom have most of their tools at the ready on the wall or in a cabinet close by.

I am intending to design some sort of storage in mine due to the small size of the shop and to also add weight to help stabilize the bench. I agree with Jim in that it is a personal thing; look in the workbench forum on this site and you will see a lot of variations out there of 3 or 4 basic designs. Good luck.

-- Marc

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PurpLev

8523 posts in 3113 days


#5 posted 05-02-2010 03:51 AM

mostly clearance for holdfasts (also bench dogs – but those are shorter and require less clearance) and other clamping/holding devices.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View davidroberts's profile

davidroberts

1025 posts in 2950 days


#6 posted 05-02-2010 04:08 AM

I put a piece of 3/4” MDF in the botom and then a set of drawers. There is about 8 inches between the bottom of the drawers and the shelf. Could not be happier.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

17671 posts in 3140 days


#7 posted 05-02-2010 06:15 AM

If saw dust is a problem, seems like a dust shelf would be an easy fix.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5179 posts in 2659 days


#8 posted 05-02-2010 07:38 AM

Greetings Nordichomey: If you are looking for a workbench with drawer storage underneath, then take a look at the one I built. All of my layout tools, etc., are right there at my fingertips. It works great for me….
I think this is something like you’re talking about…... 6 drawers with full extention slides, and storage on each side w/ removable shelves, if need be…..... works great…...And I have dog holes with no problems…..This is one heavy-duty bench, and this sucker weighs a ton…....


-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

View Abbott's profile

Abbott

2570 posts in 2768 days


#9 posted 05-02-2010 08:41 AM

That’s a real nice bench Rick.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

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Marc5

304 posts in 2806 days


#10 posted 05-02-2010 11:02 AM

That is what I am talking about!

-- Marc

View Greedo's profile

Greedo

470 posts in 2425 days


#11 posted 05-02-2010 12:15 PM

for my next bench i will probably add storage drawers and cabinets underneath, but i will certainly leave an open space between the bottom of the benchtop and the top of the storage part. that way you can still clamp things to the surface, and use that intermediary space to keep all those tools and stuff you need for the project at handreach, without them cluttering the top.
anyway i believe the 21st century workbench has the best base for an all-round modern workbench; legs flush with top, open in the middle section, etc… you would lose all the benefits of that particular bench if you filled the open part with storage, unless you add a space in between.

View Abbott's profile

Abbott

2570 posts in 2768 days


#12 posted 05-02-2010 06:18 PM

and use that intermediary space to keep all those tools and stuff you need for the project at handreach, without them cluttering the top.

That’s a good idea, I knock tools off of my bench now and then, I just broke a $7.00 countersink bit the other day when it hit the floor.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View BurtC's profile

BurtC

101 posts in 2594 days


#13 posted 05-03-2010 12:50 AM

I built mine with an open bottom, with shelve about 6” from floor due to 1) siiting at requires legroom, 2) shelve is handy to place various handheld power tools for quick and easy access without unplugging, 3) when verically clamping to edge on bench top, the clamps will prevent a high mounted drawer from opening.
I mounted a power strip on bottom of bench top for tools and can move side to side without cords laying across bench top. But if you need storage, may something on lower halve would work well.

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Abbott

2570 posts in 2768 days


#14 posted 05-03-2010 01:11 AM

Yes, it’s real nice to have clamp access all they way around.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View rockom's profile

rockom

134 posts in 3335 days


#15 posted 05-03-2010 03:48 AM

Holdfasts, dogs, and clamping are all reasons to leave the underside open.

This book explains much of it in detail. I’m still reading through it myself.
http://www.woodworkersbookshop.com/product/workbenches/books

-Rocko

-- -> Malta, IL -<

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