LumberJocks

Work bench dimensions

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by WhoMe posted 10-28-2011 02:10 AM 12930 views 2 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View WhoMe's profile

WhoMe

1468 posts in 2710 days


10-28-2011 02:10 AM

I am starting to look more and more into building a workbench as I am getting tired of using my table saw table (and out feed extension) as a workbench. It has been working good as a layout, assembly table but I am finding I need more capabilities like wood vises and bench dog functions.

I like the idea of the style of the 21st century workbench with the open center for clamping, tool trays and so on so I am thinking of that for a top as I think that will be the most versatile for what I want to do in the future. I am undecided on the base so far regarding shelving or drawers/cabinets. Cost for the workbench will be a factor so I am looking at a base made of big box store wood. I feel I can get large enough sizes to make it stable without breaking the bank. As for the top, I will spend more on good hard wood for that as I am looking more for stability and durability. I do not want to buy a pre-emade one as I WANT to build my own and learn from it.

BUT, in general, how does one go about sizing the top regarding length and width. Is there some kind of guidelines for those dimensions.

I plan to start building cabinets, chairs, tables and other stuff for my home and maybe, maybe, in the future I can get some commission projects for a little extra cash but that is only a wish.

Unfortunately, I do not have a dedicated shop and am using a 2 car garage (only fits 1 car though) that has limited space (with all the other junk in there) so I will have to figure out how to make this workbench mobile but I have some Ideas. All of my shop tools are mobile already.
I am still working on other projects for storage in the garage to create more floorspace so I know that will have some bearing on the final top dimensions but in the mean time, maybe some of you out there may have some useful experience with workbench sizes and some of your projects that you can pass on that will give me some ideas and guidelines.
I bought one workbench book but it is not the greatest regarding sizing and concentrates more on the styles.

Thanks for any helpful advice.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -


23 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13738 posts in 2085 days


#1 posted 10-28-2011 02:59 AM

Dimensions of a workbench, very abbreviated version, should be no ‘deeper’ than you can comfortably reach across. That usually translates to 24”, and because most cabinets are about that dimension, 24” will address everything pretty readily. For length, 6’ is not big and not small. Many have gone smaller with success, and that because of space limitations. And unless you’re clamping long boards to the front of the bench for jointing, 5’ to 6’ is a solid approach.

This evening I ran my #8 jointer along the edge of an 84” run of pine for a project I’m working with my son (a pewter cupboard), and my 6’ bench did just fine.

There are pics of my bench in my projects page if you’re interested. Hope this helps!

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

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8523 posts in 3115 days


#2 posted 10-28-2011 03:06 AM

+1 to the above. as for height it depends on what sort of work you do. if you are planning on planing and surfacing a lot on the bench make it about elbow height (when standing with arms to your wides) if you plan on doing mostly routing and power tool work on it make it a few inches higher than that.

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

View WhoMe's profile

WhoMe

1468 posts in 2710 days


#3 posted 10-29-2011 07:41 AM

Cool. that helps a lot.
I appreciate the input and advice.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View Moron's profile

Moron

5032 posts in 3360 days


#4 posted 10-29-2011 08:16 AM

pure cosmetics

the dimensions of a bench, the length, the depth is pure BS

its more bout the little you have and making the most of it that separates one from the rest

at some point, building a good bench, becomes a good lesson in humility

: )

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile

Moron

5032 posts in 3360 days


#5 posted 10-29-2011 08:31 AM

it is a trophy

and so it should be

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

7158 posts in 2380 days


#6 posted 10-29-2011 02:52 PM

I built my 21st Century WB at just under 90in. long. If I were to do it again, I think I would have chosen something shorter like 60in or so. I also have an old 8ft long 2×4 plywood bench that thus far I have failed to remove. My point is, there really is such a thing as too big for the shop.

A shorter bench would allow you to more easily walk all the way around it and IMO, THAT is something to consider. As far as height, I made mine <1/4in shorter than my TS outfeed. Also making it HEAVY is a definite PLUS (or at least use the storage below for spare wood, etc.).

Do a LJs search on the 21st Century WBs and you will find some interesting variations on the design.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13738 posts in 2085 days


#7 posted 10-29-2011 05:28 PM

“pure cosmetics

the dimensions of a bench, the length, the depth is pure BS”

I couldn’t disagree with you more, Moron.

Tried handwork on a bench that’s 45” high? Can’t get over top of the tool. Want to bend over and work on something that’s 24” off the floor? Good luck. Workbench 4’ deep, front to back? You’ll be reaching constantly, and can’t effectively place clamps to hold the work.

Lots of things in shops are more cosmetic in nature, yes, but workbench dimensions certainly are not.

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

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

6476 posts in 2065 days


#8 posted 10-29-2011 05:52 PM

Height is very important, maybe the most important ergonomically speakng. As for overall size, i think it should be tailored to your shop size and type of projects/work you plan to do. Like Mike, I think weight is important. As for drawers/doors, it should also be based on what you plan to store there. Basically a bench that fits your work needs,space requirements, and budget is the best bench. Personalized just to fit for you. No two should be the exact same in my opinion.

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3372 posts in 2121 days


#9 posted 10-29-2011 06:23 PM

Nothing about furniture is purely cosmetic. It has to be functional and beautiful. Workbenches and chairs both must be constructed around the human form to be effective.

Really you need to evaluate what kind of work you do and that (along with the proportions of you body) will give you the dimensions you need. Smitty has some good advice.

As far as height. If you hand plane try putting the bench at a height where your pinky joint hits your hand when your arms are down. This may seem low but will make hand planing so much easier. (you can always build a small bench on bench to raise joinery work to a more comfortable height.)

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

23199 posts in 2333 days


#10 posted 10-29-2011 07:05 PM

I like a wider bench because my shop is so small. I know that seems contradictory but unfortunately I have to use it for multiple things. My bench is 34 by 84 and I have shelves underneath where I store a whole multitude of things that I need. I want to add 12 more feet to my shop and when I do I will build a nice heavy European work bench that is maybe 24” x 85” with a complete cabinet full of drawers underneath.

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View WhoMe's profile

WhoMe

1468 posts in 2710 days


#11 posted 11-01-2011 12:29 AM

Wow, this has been a interesting thread. Thank you all for your opinions and I will use this knowledge when making my bench. One key item was mentioned, available space. I think that will be more of a determining factor than most other things regarding length and width. BUT having said that I think I will be pushing the limits on that one to err on the side of a larger top than a smaller one. Plus, the idea of putting cabinetry in the base is really appealing for the additional storage space for hand tools and so on.

HorizontalMike, I have been perusing the threads on the 21st century bench already and looked at your own site for ideas. Once I got there, I got distracted by your observatory more than anything. lol.

Thanks again everyone.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5183 posts in 2661 days


#12 posted 11-01-2011 12:58 AM

I’m on the other side of the fench when it comes to benches…..I’ve built about 5, and all have been a little different in diminsions. I still have and use all of them. My shop is big enough to handle them….The bench I’m using now I built about 2 years ago…..It is about 40” high, 42” wide, and 101” long….I like my benches up high, along with all my other benches, work tables, table saw, router cabinet, etc. I don’t like stooping over to do things, and I don’t do hand tools like planing, scraping, sawing, etc. My bench has a storage cabinet full of drawers that I built specifically to fit the bench….It has 2 vices and 2 power strips, and does eveything I need it to do….This thing is a beast, and oh so heavy. The top is 3” thick, and takes everything I throw at it…Here’s a shot of the bench….Remember…this is my bench…you build yours anyway you want to…

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

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3372 posts in 2121 days


#13 posted 11-01-2011 04:42 AM

That bench is a power tool on it’s own. Nice job.

What’s the hardboard clamped there for?

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5183 posts in 2661 days


#14 posted 11-01-2011 05:36 AM

RGtools,

I think I was going to put a stain or finish on, or paint something…..I really don’t remember, but it was to protect the top….It’s been so long ago I forgot…. It doesn’t aways stay on there…Thanks for the comment.

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

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13738 posts in 2085 days


#15 posted 11-01-2011 05:38 AM

Rick – I like your RAS setup on the back wall very much… Needing that myself. Nice work!

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

showing 1 through 15 of 23 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com