View Full Version : The The Bench design orbiting to completion.

Matthew Springer
10-08-2003, 1:43 PM
Well all, after months of agonizing, The final workbench design is orbiting toward completion. In honor of one of those other tools everybody agonizes over but nobody can do without (math, or more specifically, the the calculus), I think I'll name it The The Bench.

So I'm liking the Veritas/Charelsworth style, but with symetric front and back surfaces since I use my bench against a wall the short way (i.e stuck out into the room the long way). I need storage below the bench since I'm in half of a one car garage. Basically, a Veritas Modern, but with removable center tool tray and storage underneath and wider/thicker slabs. (and yes, I've done overwhelming large, maple glue ups before) Closest one to what I'm thinking I can find on the web is the Highland House bench (the yuppie, cherry one)

I think the final design is going to have two 3" thick, 7ft x 12" maple slabs with a 6 to 8" gap between those which will be the remvable tool tray. This 'd give me a 32" wide surface which should be about right. I use it also as an assembly table, so I'm thinking the wider surface will be good. Front vise oriented right handed on one side, pattern makers vise oriented left handed on the other side (I won't add this until later, probably).

I thought about all kinds of crazy double, idependent tail vise designs but I think the twin screw end vise will give me 85% of what I need without driving me batty. Because of crazy space requirements, I'll have to build everything in stages, the base stretchers, first, then one of the two tops, then storage and the other top.

How wide / deep a center tool tray is prudent?
How much gap do you think is good between the bottom of the slabs and the top of the storage is I'm using a holdfast? (I guess the question is how much do these stick out below the top when in use)

How thick a top can I get away with when using a twin screw end vise? I'll still need a cross piece backer to span the ends of the slabs, but how low can the screw centers be below the plane of the bench top before I run into problems?


Dave Anderson NH
10-08-2003, 3:00 PM
I can't help you much with question 2, but I've some ideas on question #1.

First off, all of the tol trays I've seen have been between 3-4" deep and the better ones have angled end ramps to allow you to sweep out the shavings and udst easily. I'd put a mall lip all the way around the tool tray on the inside and have it recessed a full common plywood thickness below the top surface of the bench. If you cut a piece of plywood to fit (or a board) and put a finger hole in it, you have a removable section of bench top which eliminates the tool tray feature when you need to use the bench as an assembly table. The distance between the bottom of the top and your storage will be governed by the length of the holdfast shank. I would think that 6-8" is a minimum though maybe less would work if you use the Lee Valley/Veritas type of screw adjstable holdfast. The forged ones take up a lot more space. A quick note here, the cast holdfasts sold by Woodcraft and most of the other shops don't last very long if used regularly and hard. The forged ones from folks on the old tools list are a better alternative and will last virtually forever. Cast=brittle, Forged= durable

Steve Kubien
10-08-2003, 4:47 PM
Hi Mathew,

As for the dimensions of a tool-tray, I'd say make it as wide (or deep back to front) as your tallest commonly used plane (or other tool, I suppose). That way you can lay it down in the tray. As to the depth, I'd look to about 3". That way everything is well below surface (even the end of a brace).

I know of one guy who uses forged holdfasts in his 1-1/2" thick pine bench. Never has had a problem with them at that thickness so your 3" slab should suit you well. This same guys did tell me that a thicker top works better.

I hope this helps a little,

Steve Kubien

John Allman
10-08-2003, 8:23 PM

I built the Veritas Workbench about ten years ago. At the time my skill level and available time was such that I bought the kit which included Beech laminated slabs, all the hardware and the plans. The plans are excellent and covered a number of varaitions that one might wish to implement. If I understand your post, it sounds like this is the type of bench you are after. You can buy just the plans (05L06.02) for about US$10.00, and they are worth a lot more than the asking price.

I used a Record 52 1/2ED vice on the left front and the Veritas twin screw vise on the right end. Heavy maple skirts drilled for dog holes, and a shelf between the legs have made for an extremely useful bench.


Alan Turner
10-09-2003, 11:47 AM
[ Front vise oriented right handed on one side, pattern makers vise oriented left handed on the other side (I won't add this until later, probably).

How much gap do you think is good between the bottom of the slabs and the top of the storage is I'm using a holdfast? (I guess the question is how much do these stick out below the top when in use)

I have a few thoughts for you. First, I think you have a great idea on using two shoulder vises, one a standard ww vise, and one a patternmakers. I build a bench, finished in Feb., and installed my old and terriffic quick action ww vise. Tehn, I ran into an affordable Emmert No. 2, and so installed that, Pix below. As good as the Emmert is, there are times when I would prefer the older style of ww vise. On my bench, with the intregal tool tray on the back, this was not an option. If I had to do it over again, I think I would make the charlesworth style of bench, but with a traditional tail vise. This is my first one of these, and I use it all the time for a million things besides planing.

As to the gap above storage question, I use the Veritas screw type of holddown. This I added after I did not like the new version of the traditional "pound it in" holdfast. Lee Valley cat. says the post is 10" and this seems about right. So, storage should start 10" down from the top surface. In the pix you can see that I drilled rows of 3/4" holes, and these are used for the holdfast, and also for the Veritas round bench dogs (I have 4) and the Wonder Dogs (a pair), which can give you a ton of mid-bench clamping/holding options. For the traditional tail vise, I used the Veritas large bench dogs, steel and rectangular in section.

Alan Turner
10-10-2003, 10:06 AM
I measured this a.m., and from the top of the bench, you need to leave 9 5/16" clear for the screw-type holddown from Veritas.
A lot of guys but their hardware before building, to confirm layout, measurements, etc. Just a thought.

Matthew Springer
10-10-2003, 1:09 PM
Thanks guys. I'd actually already decided to rabbet the tool tray to accept a finger holed plywood insert to make it flush with the top.

I'm almost got a finalized stretcher design and the top may end up 4" instead of 3", but it looks like I'm on the right track. I reviewed my Veritas modern bench plans last night and they have a skirt width of 5", so a pure slab of 3"-4" should work. Should keep me busy for a bit. The bottom of the bench slabs will be 29" off the floor, so it looks like I'll get about 23" inches or so of storage if I design the cabinets not to interfere with the stretchers. I'll try and post pics as I go. I have about 4 guitar amps to build before I can start, but that won't (hopefully) take me that long.


Doug Littlejohn
10-10-2003, 4:25 PM
You said -

I have about 4 guitar amps to build

What kind of 'building' do you do? Are we talking custom electronics here?

As and ex EE, you piqued my interest.

Matthew Springer
10-10-2003, 4:59 PM
I'm a current EE (sorry, bad pun) or at least computer programmer / sys architect geek. I also play guitar. In fact doing the cabinetry for CD racks and guitar amps was how I got into wood working. I'm mainly space limited in the sense my electronics shop is 12 sqft next to my bed (yes, that's twelve). I play mainly in church on electric (Vineyard Palo Alto).

The main amps I build (so far numbering 2) are tweaked blackface Fender era tube amps.

I build basically two sorts of amps, Medium and Big. Medium design is a hybrid Tweed Deluxe and BlackFace Princeton reverb running about 25 watts with trem and reverb (tube, of course). The "Big" amp is a blackface Pro Reverb (kinda like half a twin) with some additonal effects loop and overdrive circuitry. If you know what a Dumble Overdrive Special is it this, but with reverb. I'm building a trio of medium amps for some friends, then two Big amps for me and another guy.