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Designing Mobile Workbenches - Best Height?

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Forum topic by Bionicjoe posted 06-10-2014 06:06 AM 832 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bionicjoe

1 post in 200 days


06-10-2014 06:06 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I just built my first mobile work table. It’s just an old cabinet from an entertainment center put on a stand & wheels. I built it 39” high & ultimately I want a series of benches and tool stands that are all the same height for uniformity & outfeed support.

My tablesaw & router table (bought from a guy who had built it) are both about 34.5”. I think that’s a bit low.
Is there a good standard height I should shoot for or just custom build to the height I like?

http://i.imgur.com/OF9Jb8O.jpg


19 replies so far

View The Box Whisperer's profile

The Box Whisperer

678 posts in 823 days


#1 posted 06-10-2014 10:18 AM

Ergonomics come down to the user. I general rule of is that you should be able to stand up straight, and rest your hand on the bench with a slight bend in the elbow. Also keep in mind you may want to add floor padding too. I am tall and I have back issues so mine are pretty tall at 42” Either way I think you have the best plan at having them all the same height.

-- "despite you best efforts and your confidence that your smarter and faster than a saw blade at 10k rpm…. your not …." - Charles Neil

View redSLED's profile

redSLED

687 posts in 646 days


#2 posted 06-10-2014 12:43 PM

^ Like he said. Personal comfort choice. This becomes more of an issue if you do/anticipate doing repetitive work and/or you have back/joint pains.

I really liked the height using my buddy’s General cabinet table saw a while back which was 35” high. Since I currently use mostly power tools, I’ve made my workbench and other stand heights to outfeed on at 35” – feels right for me for most work I do so far.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

6058 posts in 2182 days


#3 posted 06-10-2014 12:58 PM

I like my bench at the height that meets my knuckles as they hang loose at my side.
But, making it at a personalized height may not be the best for an outfeed table for the TS. Of course, you could put the TS on a platform.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6968 posts in 1667 days


#4 posted 06-10-2014 01:09 PM

My height = 5’ 9”

34.5in is generally the average TS height when on a mobile base. Hard, but not impossible, to change this height. Same for average height on most jointers.

Workbenches are as stated above (personal preference). I am finding that a taller (~39in) bench is easier to work on for such things as belt sharpener, drill press, hand sanding, etc. There is LESS bending over and that conserves energy and is less tiring IMO.

BOTTOM LINE—I would plan on dedicating a workbench solely your preferred height, and then build “another” bench/table for your needed outfeed uses.

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

View Crank50's profile

Crank50

111 posts in 329 days


#5 posted 06-10-2014 01:41 PM

If you use hand planes and some other hand tools you will probably want a lower height bench than a power tool bench. On the other hand, precision work will be more comfortable if it is up close.

I think a low bench with a bench top bench accessory makes a lot of sense.

But like everyone says, bench height is a personal preference first. I just wanted to point out that type of work makes a difference too.

View stefang's profile

stefang

13633 posts in 2087 days


#6 posted 06-10-2014 07:42 PM

I know a lot of woodworkers have their benches at 39” high and some as noted above, even higher. I am 5ft. 10-1/2” and I have a really bad back, but my bench is 34-1/2” high and it seems very comfortable to me when I’m hand planing. Any higher and most of the work is transferred to the upper body and you don’t get so good use of your back and legs, so it seems strange to me that so many folks my height are using so much higher benches these days. I do realise that certain tasks using power tools, like hand held routers for example, are easier to use on higher benches, but not necessarily for hand tools in my opinion.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1262 posts in 701 days


#7 posted 06-10-2014 09:17 PM

My PM 66 pretty much sets the height. With what it weighs I don’t want to try and raise it.

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

7520 posts in 1436 days


#8 posted 06-10-2014 09:40 PM

Usually, my benches that I’ve built (3) are right to the bottomof my belt buckle. Seems to be about right for the stuff I do. Try it out, see where YOUR belt buckle is, measure down to the floor, height of bench top is….

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

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6968 posts in 1667 days


#9 posted 06-10-2014 09:46 PM

Crank50: ”...I think a low bench with a bench top bench accessory makes a lot of sense….”

Now THAT sounds like a neat project for any and all. Why not. I have dog holes all over my 34-1/4in high workbench, that would be very useful for doweled legs of an add-on 6-8in added “upper bench” for high work. I’ll have to think about that for a bit, but that might come in handy once I delineate just what tasks would benefit from doing this… Hmm…

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

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HorizontalMike

6968 posts in 1667 days


#10 posted 06-10-2014 09:50 PM

bandit571: ”...Usually, my benches that I’ve built (3) are right to the bottomof my belt buckle. Seems to be about right for the stuff I do. Try it out, see where YOUR belt buckle is, measure down to the floor, height of bench top is…….”

Whut! Yew kin steel see yo’ belt buckle?! Quit rubbin’ it in already!... Geez these young pups got gall! Where’d I put dat Bud anyway… ;-)

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

View AlanBienlein's profile

AlanBienlein

142 posts in 1427 days


#11 posted 06-10-2014 10:06 PM

Every flat surface in my shop from the table saw and all other machinery to the work bench and the mobile carts are the same height. This makes life so much easier and the shop less crowded.

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

7520 posts in 1436 days


#12 posted 06-10-2014 10:16 PM

Sometimes, one needs a bit of Difference in the shop

Like when a test fit before a glue up?

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

View moke's profile (online now)

moke

558 posts in 1529 days


#13 posted 06-11-2014 05:26 PM

I have three mobile benches, two at 39” and one at 20”. The 20” is a cabinet assembly table that nestles inside one of the 39’s. I don’t know why I settled in on the 39 hieght but it seems very comfortable.

I might suggest that you look into double-lock castors. They lock both the roller and the swivel. Without a swivel lock they move to much to really be a good surface to work on. You really only need two double lock castors, and the other side put on the non swiveling. I makes for a great and stable work surface. If you want something even more stable, install two barrel clamps, one on each side. Install them so they contact the floor ( similar to the ones in a Kreg drilling jig).
Mike

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pintodeluxe

3570 posts in 1566 days


#14 posted 06-11-2014 05:43 PM

Outfeed supports need to align perfectly with the tablesaw. If not, it will bobble the cut (especially ripping bevels). That is the reason I made a dedicated outfeed support that adjusts with threaded table leg feet. Then I made a separate rolling workbench at a comfortable height. If space is a concern, you can make a low rolling cart for under the wing of your tablesaw. I sit on a rolling stool to use my cart for sanding, detail routing etc.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Yonak's profile

Yonak

500 posts in 274 days


#15 posted 06-11-2014 06:00 PM

I agree with some others. All of my movable working carts, stationary work benches, table saw, jointer, planer, etc. are at the same height for easy material transfer and for infeed and outfeed supports.

-- Practicing unfamiliar techniques on scrap before committing to the real piece leads to safe and reliable results.

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