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Forum topic by Ben posted 09-22-2016 11:07 PM 516 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ben

267 posts in 2318 days


09-22-2016 11:07 PM

Hey Gang,
I recently bought an old Yost patternmaker’s vise and I plan to build a workbench around it.

My main question relates to benchtop thickness. How thick is thick enough?
Is having a 2 3/4” thick top mostly just cachet over, say, a 1 1/2” top, assuming both are hard Maple?

I will probably build a sort of “modified” roubo, basically a classic bench with a four post base, the patternmaker vise and a dovetailed tail vise. Probably have some drawers as well.

Thanks!


9 replies so far

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TheOtherMrRogers

41 posts in 1643 days


#1 posted 09-23-2016 03:36 PM

Ok, my two cents
First, what do you want to do with the workbech? If it’s just going to sit in a corner and look pretty, then I can’t give you any advice.

If you want to make it into an heirloom for your grandchildren’s children, then go whole hog.

Unfortunately, we are somewhere in the middle, I’m sure.

Thickness gives you a few thing:
1: Stability – you don’t want your top to warp over time and humidity.
2: Strength – you may never need the strength to hold a massive timber for hand planing, carving etc. But at 1 1/2” you probably won’t be able to hold it anyway.
3: Life: after a few years of pounding on the bench, you will want to flatten it. Even if you take off 1/32-1/16, that’s a lot for a 1 1/2” table top.

I’ve nt done this, yet, but I’ve thought about making an additional bench using a hybrid design. Find plans for a fir bench, and then put in a maple front and a few strips of maple for dog holes, looks, etc. If you do this using 2×4’s glued up, you won’t be too expensive.

Just my two cents.

-- For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4024 posts in 1812 days


#2 posted 09-23-2016 06:44 PM

If you plan on using hold fasts the the thicker top will work better with them. Another issue is mass, the thicker top gives more it weight and less likely to rack and move while planing. It is not any more trouble to make a thicker top versus a thinner one and the cost difference is minimal. By far the easiest part of making a bench is the top, so why not make it massive. It will look far better, too.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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JayT

4772 posts in 1672 days


#3 posted 09-23-2016 07:18 PM

I think bondo covered it all very well.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13713 posts in 2079 days


#4 posted 09-23-2016 07:26 PM


How thick is thick enough?
Is having a 2 3/4” thick top mostly just cachet over, say, a 1 1/2” top, assuming both are hard Maple?

- Ben

Good comments above, I’d add this response to your questions: A top of 2 3/4” is thick enough. A top of 1 1/2” is not. A top of 4”+Plus is not required for holdfasts or pounding or repeated flattening, but it is good for mass. And with heavy cast iron vise(s), a 2 3/4” thick top would be particularly good to resist the forces of gravity over time.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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Ben

267 posts in 2318 days


#5 posted 09-23-2016 10:00 PM

Thanks Guys.
I’ll go with a thicker top.
And instead of using 12/4 slabs I’ll use 6/4 – 8/4 ripped to the height of bench, and do a lamination.

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Ben

267 posts in 2318 days


#6 posted 10-03-2016 01:49 AM

I’m wondering about something:

Instead of laminating and flipping on edge with a million glue joints on the top, what about laminating on the flat, say 2-3 4/4 or 5/4 boards, then edge gluing those onto 2-3 more boards glued together.
So in effect, I’d have a 3” thick top, but it would look like only 2-3 boards. I’d have a lot less work to do, it would look nicer, and I can use cheaper, utility grade stuff for the bottom two layers.
Then wrap the whole thing with a nice edge board/breadboards.

Any issues with this idea?

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Ben

267 posts in 2318 days


#7 posted 11-08-2016 12:14 AM

Another question I’m curious about.

I’m debating whether or not to build the base as a trestle style, vs. just four square legs.
I prefer the looks of the trestle but it seems like they would be potential toe stubbers.
Any structural/functional reason for the trestles, that lower apron boards couldn’t accomplish?

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 947 days


#8 posted 11-08-2016 12:57 AM

I wouldn’t laminate wide and thick timbers because of the stresses involved with the grain running in different directions for long stretches and the fact that pva glue can creep. I wouldn’t want to laminate different species like that because of different expansion rates.

I’m probably overthinking it a bit.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View HokieKen's profile

HokieKen

1740 posts in 600 days


#9 posted 11-08-2016 12:45 PM



Another question I m curious about.

I m debating whether or not to build the base as a trestle style, vs. just four square legs.
I prefer the looks of the trestle but it seems like they would be potential toe stubbers.
Any structural/functional reason for the trestles, that lower apron boards couldn t accomplish?

- Ben

I am in the process of building a bench right now too. Here's my blog if you’re interested. The second entry shows my design and goes over why I made some of the decisions I did.

It doesn’t cover why I made the base the way I did. It’s something I read in one of Christopher Schwarz books and it just made good sense to me. Basically, everything on the front of the bench is flush. That will eliminate toe-stumping but, the main point is the clamping functionality it gives.

Of course, bench design should be personal preference and is highly dependent on they kind of work you’ll be doing on it so YMMV.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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