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Forum topic by DocSavage45 posted 04-30-2014 05:08 AM 1205 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8520 posts in 2811 days

04-30-2014 05:08 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question workbench refurbishing

Kiefer just built a great bench and Shipwright did a great blog on a torsion box workbench. I looked at my bench which was attached to the wall and built to the height of my old craftsman table saw. I constructed it from the construction materials that I hadn’t used. when i finished it it had a metal edge for sheet-metal bending and a large machinist vice on one corner. I prettied up the 3/4 fir flooring that served as the surface and built another lower smaller bench to hold my 12 inch compound miter saw.

Well It was too high for using my hand planes and too wide for me to reach across. It as shipwright said is a great storage area!

Last year I purchased a Jorgenson bench vise to replace my 7” Harbor Freight that is truly sloppy. It works but…..

So now I have gathered some ideas and a new vice and I also need a bench that I can move due to my shop being too small for all my power tools.

I was wondering what ideas or things other LJ’s would change or appreciate in functional features of a bench?

Thanks for your input!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

16 replies so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

28965 posts in 2307 days

#1 posted 04-30-2014 09:17 AM

I presently have my workbench that is also the outfeed table for the tablesaw. That won’t happen in the new shop. I have several projects going at the same time. Always have to move a project to use the saw.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View dhazelton's profile


2756 posts in 2266 days

#2 posted 04-30-2014 12:53 PM

Nothing says you have to build a bench that can’t have two tiers, or a second tier you could put on and off for an outfeed.

View Woodbridge's profile


3538 posts in 2387 days

#3 posted 04-30-2014 01:21 PM

Hi Tom, I would recommend that you have a look at Chris Schwarz’s numerous blogs at the Lost Art Press. He has written extensively about work benches from Roman times to he present and has some real good practical advice. He does provide advice on how high the bench should be, how wide and the types of vices and hold downs you should have to easily work on the edges, faces and ends of boards and assemblies.

He came up to Toronto.a few weeks ago, as part of the grande opening of the new Lee Valley store and gave a very interesting presentation on workbenches. I really enjoyed it an earned a lot of practical things about work benches.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Bruce C.Oestreich's profile

Bruce C.Oestreich

25 posts in 2348 days

#4 posted 04-30-2014 01:34 PM

Doc I think you need to build a workbench suited to your particular needs.I find that I need a height that is suitable to what Im working on.All of my work tables and machinery are mobile.I have a metal worktable for welding and metal work.My shop and showroom are about 3800 square feet so I have a lot of area to move about.I think for a good woodworking table you could use an old solid core hospital door for the top. I have seen many of them on craigslist. Bruce

View tyvekboy's profile


1747 posts in 2982 days

#5 posted 04-30-2014 02:07 PM

Doc—I really like the bench I built.

It can be configured with a 6 inch tray or 2 inch tool holders down the middle.
Itʻs heavy – 350 lbs.
It has rollers so it can be moved around—does require bottle jacks to deploy the wheels.
It can come apart so it can be move should you ever move and want to take it with you.
Kieferʻs vise could be incorporated in it.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View DocSavage45's profile


8520 posts in 2811 days

#6 posted 04-30-2014 03:31 PM

Monte, I know you will build a great shop! My workspace for my cabinet saw, compound miter saw, lathe, and band saw is @ 12 ft x 26 ft, a rebuilt 1/2 garage attached to a small animal barn. I definitely under estimated what I might be doing? So everything is now on wheels except the lathe. I’m thinking about an out-feed table, and a large awning,small carport just outside so I can take advantage of the weather and the plentiful sunlight. Thanks for responding.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile


8520 posts in 2811 days

#7 posted 04-30-2014 03:32 PM

dhazelton, good suggestion. Thanks!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile


8520 posts in 2811 days

#8 posted 04-30-2014 03:38 PM


As I mentioned to Monte, I’m probably going to put it on wheels. Charles Neil has put his commercial wood working benches on casters, he is very happy with the woodcraft casters. I will check out the Blog. Guess your pretty close to the Lee Valley store? :)

Thanks! How is your woodworking coming?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile


8520 posts in 2811 days

#9 posted 04-30-2014 03:39 PM

Bruce, Thanks for your suggestions!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile


8520 posts in 2811 days

#10 posted 04-30-2014 03:57 PM

tyvekboy, thanks!

Due to time and materials ( have considered building Kiefer’s bench or a similar type, and the leg vice ) I will be doing a version of Shipwright’s torsion box. I know a tool tray is useful, and shavings can go there..LOL! I may add a drawer for that purpose. I know more junk collection, but that may be my solution re: space and logistics.

Norm Abrams promoted replaceable tops. My old bench top was screwed down. I’m thining bench dog holes like Shipwright used in his torsion box made of plywood.

I have a lot of material to reuse?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3546 days

#11 posted 04-30-2014 06:52 PM

I always admire the beautiful benches folks make, but I’ve never had one .I’ve always used a 4×8 work table with simple construction and a replaceable melamine top. It has a couple vises on it .It does the job for me.I guess even though I would like and impressive work bench but whe I think of one,it would be small in comparison to my work table plus I would always be focusing on if I’m getting dye or glue all over it. I guess you could still use a proper work bench and not worry about it,I know Charles got a fairly expensive bench a couple years ago and now it looks like a glue and dye bomb went off on it on a daily basis :) All this still won’t stop me from ogling other folks fantastic benches I see on Ljs.Good luck on your build I’m sure it will be great.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View bandit571's profile


19762 posts in 2652 days

#12 posted 04-30-2014 07:11 PM

All those nice, showroom benches are nice, and big. Too big for the Dungeon Shop I have, though.

This is about all the room I have. Parts for the bench build were from a Dumpster dive. It does have a pipe clamp leg vise, and a crochet. Tool well gets filled up, quick. Tool well also keeps things from wandering off the backside, and onto the floor.

Bench MIGHT have taken one sunny Sunday afternoon to build.

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

View DocSavage45's profile


8520 posts in 2811 days

#13 posted 04-30-2014 07:54 PM


Thanks, I too want that Hand built bench, and I would like to have more time to build it. I will do a blog of sorts with my old Frankenbench as my wife dubbed it. :)

I don’t think charles really has time to mess with a little mess. LOL! Those benches can be scraped or planed for the perfect workshop. But as you know I am more of a wood butcher than a woodcrafter. construction of buildings is in my past history. Maybe in my present as I am trying very hard to figure out where to put the stuff. also got few dollars. LOL!

Have to remove some 5/8ths plywood 2×6 and 4’s off my truck. Also four squares of roofing. waiting for the building inspector to give me some advice before I start rather than after it’s built?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View DocSavage45's profile


8520 posts in 2811 days

#14 posted 04-30-2014 07:56 PM


You may have less shop space than I do. LOL! Looks pretty functional. I will probably use a pedestal base as my floor is not the best. Thanks!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View UpstateNYdude's profile


914 posts in 1952 days

#15 posted 04-30-2014 08:28 PM

I am in the same boat as Jim I’d be devastated if I got anything on a bench I put any kind of real love and time into, I’m planning to build a Sysport bench by Timothy Wilcot for all my newly purchased/won Festool equipment. It provides all the functionality I need and space and I’m not a huge hand tool user, I love my power tools, I do get the nostalgia of doing stuff by hand and the pride you may feel by doing it that way but my kid, wife, and job eat up almost all of my time right now and to be doing things by hand takes longer for the unskilled at it, the Festool stuff has actually helped me a ton in cleanup time (thank you CT26) with the DC attaching right to the tool.

I think I broke off on way to much of a tangent but what I was trying to say is don’t worry about it being pretty and made of the most expensive woods available, just make something that functions the way YOU need it to.

-- Nick, “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

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