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Forum topic by jacob34 posted 281 days ago 782 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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jacob34

454 posts in 899 days


281 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: workbench clamps

So I am a subscription holder to Wood Magazine and in October issue #221 they have an article or project “built-to-last Work center”. I am always amazed at the ability for woodworking to take an project and present a million solutions to both the inherent issues as well as a myriad of cost ranges. The work bench in the article uses F clamps as vises and simple dowel and a square block for dogs. Now I realize it is not a new concept and that the bench is easy and cheap and if one is seriously into hand tools it is not going to cut the mustard. I also think though that no other hobby or profession for some gives as many possibilities for both creativity as well as failure.

I remember when I started, and lets be honest I am not a pro or veteran of woodworking by any means I am still in baby stage, thinking of all the crazy things I wanted to build I even purchased some woodworking plans such as one for a challenger locomotive (that will open a new woodworkers eyes), and feeling confronted by not feeling like I could figure out how they where made. Now my outlook or focus is on the range of things my tools can do and which one can accomplish what I am looking to do.

Which brings me to the point of the posting (yes there is a point) I am curious what we choose to view as a work bench. Is there a difference in our minds between a bench for power tool woodworkers versus hand tools guys and are they looked as less than as a bench? Is a handmade more important than one purchased? What things are accepted corners to cut, example I have heard a lot of people pooh, pooh using pipe clamps as vises. Anyway I hope everyone’s shop time is plentiful during the holidays as well as time with our families and happy holidays to all.

-- so a bear and a rabbit are sitting on a log


12 replies so far

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

2488 posts in 1411 days


#1 posted 281 days ago

I have had 4 or 5 workbenches – all of them were good for different things. Start simple and modify to your needs. It is all good in the end. As you get better and change, your ideal workbench will change as well.

Put in the elements that you need – it is as flexible as you make it.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2283 days


#2 posted 281 days ago

a workbench is a raised (from the floor) surface you work on – nothing more nothing less.

now, how you build/buy your workbench all depends on your needs (height, mass, stability, size, friction/smoothness, accessories, work holding) – all these are point to consider and are personal to each one, but none make anything into a “workbench” or take from one if it doesn’t have those.

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

View 12strings's profile

12strings

401 posts in 1019 days


#3 posted 281 days ago

My 2 cents: yes, hand tool vs power tool makes a difference, though I suspect a good hand tool bench will also be fine for power tools, the reverse is not the case…

If you want to hand plane edges, you need something to hold the work…if you want to hand plane faces of boards, then a Flat bench is necessary so the board doesn’t flex…

as to pipe clamps…i have been using a double pipe clamp vise for about 4 years, and like olit so much I am planning to build a better one when I build my new “real” bench (3 in. Top, dog holes, etc ).

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View Don W's profile

Don W

14899 posts in 1202 days


#4 posted 281 days ago

Do some reading on the workbench smack down thread. There is lots of very good information and lots of bench builds shown, including some with pipe vices.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1008 posts in 921 days


#5 posted 281 days ago

For me, a workbench is an elevated surface to work on (rather than the floor), and a giant clamping jig. I want to be able to hold pieces of various shapes and sizes in various positions. AND it needs to be solid enough to pound on and not slide around if I’m hand planing something.

How that’s accomplished is up to me but it usually starts with basically a box (framed or filled in with drawers and doors and shelves) and a top that overhangs the box. I can clamp to any edge. I can clamp to the FACE of an edge (because it’s thick) and all in all, it looks like crap, BUT… it works for what I do.

I absolutely LOVE looking at some of the great benches other LJers are building. But when I have time in the shop I don’t normally have time to build a bench.

So… shoot me for voicing a sacrilegious opinion (no… I’m kidding… don’t really shoot me) but I’ll probably never have a gorgeous bench. What I WILL have is an elevated work space to which I can clamp stuff in various sizes and in various positions. :)

A workbench is IMPORTANT.... but it’s not an altar. It’s a place where I BUILD altars. :)

View JayT's profile

JayT

2188 posts in 846 days


#6 posted 281 days ago

I don’t think anything needs added to PurpLev’s complete and concise post.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

6855 posts in 1318 days


#7 posted 281 days ago

Starting out, I built one like Norm Abram did

Gave that to my brother. Used a tablesaw as a workbench for a long time.

Then, reclaimed some old barn wood, and made a English Style bench, with a pipe clamp leg vise. Was so heavy, had to leave it behind when I moved to a new place.

Reclaimed some other lumber, from a Dumpster, and built a small, cheap but usable for a small, cramped shop bench

Maybe IF I could just keep it cleared off…....

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View crank49's profile

crank49

3380 posts in 1606 days


#8 posted 281 days ago

Since I do so many different types of work, the work workbench refers to many different things.
My welder/pipe fitters bench has a massive 6” vise on one end, a Ridgid pipe vise on the other and the top is a sheet of 3/4” thick steel. Thing weighs about 300 lbs but would fit into the trunk of a car.
My jewelers repair bench is birch, has a 48” high work surface with a tiny precision vise and a Foredom tool hanger, ceramic welding pad, and a tray to catch filings.
My wax carving bench is similar to the jeweler’s bench, but includes a lathe and mill for machining wax.
My electronics bench is anti static with a bazillion outlets and an exhaust fan to pull soldering smoke away from my face. It’s got a shelf to hold my meters and scopes and various hand tools and wire and sheet metal tools.
In my wood shop I built a Roubo style bench but it’s almost entirely made of laminated plywood. I also have a bench for my pen turning lathe and grinding station.

I guess what I’m trying to say is a bench is whatever it needs to be to make the work being done on it easier or better or safer or more accurate. And we even customize these to suit our own style and sense of what looks and works well.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

View Texcaster's profile

Texcaster

657 posts in 309 days


#9 posted 281 days ago

I don’t make a distinction between hand tools, hand power tools and stationary machines. They are all just a means to an end for me. As long as you have two hands free and the job is secure it must be a proper bench.

-- Bill....... I listen very closely to the timber and then impose my will.

View mrjinx007's profile

mrjinx007

1376 posts in 402 days


#10 posted 281 days ago

I made a simple workbench for my need which was based on using hand tools; didn’t want to collect shavings and such. So, using 2×4’s, every other piece was missing so things could fall right on the floor instead of accumulating on the bench. I have another solid bench, the top being a solid core door; that one is for sanding and finishing. All the comments here in regards to workbenches are reasonable; the workbench is just a raised surface to comfortably make your thing instead of having to work on the floor. Just make a simple one, use screws to hold it together, and when the time comes to modify it, un-screw everything and call it “reclaimed workbench”.

-- earthartandfoods.com

View Tedstor's profile

Tedstor

1369 posts in 1268 days


#11 posted 281 days ago

You can buy a decent, small vise off eBay for $20-30 all day. I’d rather go that route than using a rigged-up f-clamp vise.
I had grand ideas of building a Roubo or Shaker bench. But in reality, I don’t have the time to complete such a project in a timely manner. It’s still a goal of mine, but not something I’ll likely get to anytime soon. I considered building one of the “weekend-type” benches, but before I could, I stumbled upon a surplus shop class bench on Craigslist. It has a 2 1/8” maple top and the base is made up of a bank of six heavy gauge steel lockers. It’s a beast, and only cost me $90ish. I added a vintage 7” craftsman vise which works goodnuff. I do mostly power tool stuff, so this suits me well. And the extra storage is always welcomed.

View jacob34's profile

jacob34

454 posts in 899 days


#12 posted 279 days ago

I built a bench of sorts, it was or is a 2×4 framed in mdf top with a “ebay” vise. I found out though it racks pretty bad when you use a hand plane on it. Probably because it is put together with screws. I am getting ready to get or build a new one with hand tools in mind. I will most likely buy one honestly because I do not get all tingly about the thought about building one from scratch. I am looking forward to when I end up in my final shop building a mammoth bench. I kinda want to buy one and build a “on the cheap” bench and use them both to see if one is really better or if spending more just gives you a pretty bench.

-- so a bear and a rabbit are sitting on a log

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