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Thread: planning out my workbench strategy-- or I'm going bench crazy

  1. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Holcombe View Post
    When I build another workbench, if I don’t simply replace the top on mine, it will be a long Roubo, length is great for workbenches. You are a new homeowner, you will use the bench for home related projects. Make it long, over 8’ is good. Given the space I would make one at 9’ long without regret.

    I thought your top was solid?

    My length limitation of 7 foot long is due to my car. The longest lumber that can comfortably fit in a Honda Fit is about 7 feet.
    8 feet lumber can fit--but uncomfortably wedges between the front windshield and the back trunk door...even a 2x6 Home depot board made me wary of shattering my windshield.

    I guess that I'll focus on bench 1 using what I have...as for a bedroom bench, I may find an old desk from Craigslist and add a sacrificial top. I use a vise about 2x a year...mainly, I like holdfasts. Occassionally, I'll use a versa vise holdfasted to my blum workbench.

    Oh, and FWIW, if there are any lurkers that don't have space or a workbench, I can recommend a few solutions that've worked for me:
    1. Blum Benchpony- It's rock solid for it's size, quite capable, and well made.
    Only downside is that it's plywood, pipe clamps are a pain, and a QR vise would be much nicer to use.
    Much stiffer than any Sjoberg I've seen.
    2. Plywood with some 2x4 drilled to it as stops laid over a picnic table/brick abutment.
    Only downside is that you can't use hondfasts. Ergonomics might not be great. However, it's rock solid. The structure is pretty much bolted to the ground, and likely over 300 lb in mass. It won't move.

    I haven't bolted anything to walls, but I'll probably get over it.

  2. #17
    In terms of desk, I see something like this: https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/fuo...560395288.html

    I'm tempted to buy the two butcher block desks, double up on the tops, and use the extra set of leg hardware on another project.
    With the desks, I won't feel bad about damaging some midcentury furniture. Also, I can cut it down to size without feeling guilty.

  3. #18
    Nevermind. The butcher block desks are sold.

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Princeton, NJ
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    Matt, if you're working on a tight budget, just buy and use construction timber, like doug fir. Build a decent bench learn what you like and dont like, build another one later. Construction materials are fine.

    Set it in the place it will stay for a long while, let it acclimatize, then work process it in phases.

    If you can't get the right stuff in your car, have them deliver. Most local places will deliver.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  5. #20
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Northeast PA
    Posts
    334
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Lau View Post
    That...is a truly beautiful workbench. What do you build?

    As for the workbench...I can only hope for something as nice.
    Thanks Matt. I had been planning it in my head and acquiring parts as I came across deals for several years before I finally had the opportunity to build it. I mainly build furniture, cabinets, & such. I really wanted to build it heavy, as I had been working on an overly light Craigslist-found bench with a 2" thick top before building this one. The difference is night and day. Whatever you do, build it stout - you will be happy you did the first time you hand plane a workpiece on it.

    Also, don't let the Honda Fit be your limitation; it's pretty cheap to rent a pickup truck or even a van for an afternoon, and can be well worth it if you come across something that warrants it. If necessary, you could build a plenty solid base using wedged tenons which allows you to knock it down if/when you need to move it. It is not a hard joint to pull off with hand tools, and probably even easier if you expend electrons to get there. I used them for the first time to join the ends of a trestle base on a dining table I completed a year or so ago and was surprised how solid of a joint it made. Here's a close up of the jointIMG_0058.jpg
    ---Trudging the Road of Happy Destiny---

  6. #21
    Brian,

    I don't know if I can say that I'm on a tight budget....
    The first two years of my dental practice, when I wasn't paying myself...yes.
    The last year and future years...no.

    I figure that I can discipline, save, buy things periodically, and avoid cutting corners.
    I don't mind spending a bit for a better longterm outcome...but also realize that this is just a hobby for me.
    Rebuilding a bench due to cutting corners on materials would be silly.
    Time is probably the most important thing now.

    Part of this thread is for me to figure out what the bounds of "Makes sense" applies, since I lack common sense.

    Buying Maple, having it shipped, sure! Buying a giant Felder or Hammer jointer/planer--I wish!


    I'll probably need to calculate between the cost of time/materials, vs bragging rights/having the bench *exactly* as I want.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Forest Lake MN
    Posts
    261
    I really wanted a scandanavian style bench, after a bit of contemplation though I decided I had neither the time, resources, or skill to build what I wanted so I build a nicholson (Mike Siemsen style one) with about 6 hours of time and $100 invested. No vice, although I did build a moxon to sit on top and get some hold fasts. I will eventually build a scandi bench and then likely shorten the nicholson bench a bit and use it more as a dedicated planing bench. For now though I have not found any limitations caused by it that have been a problem. Who knows I many not even want to ever change.

  8. #23
    Join Date
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    a QR vise would be much nicer to use.
    Much stiffer than any Sjoberg I've seen.
    Funny, over the years my appreciation for the simplicity and versatility of the Sjoberg vises has grown.

    At one time a wagon vise seemed like a good choice, until trying to figure out how to hold things across the end of the bench for various operations. Same with a Scandi type tail vise.

    The other feature to my liking is being able to quickly remove either vise for operations where a vise is just in the way.

    One of these not only helps with vise racking, it helps to limit the vise's pressure when working thin pieces:

    1- Anti-Rack Spacer Stack.jpg

    The leaves are 1/8", 1/4", 1/2" & 1" there are also a couple of piece cut to 1" X 2" and a 1/16" spacer to get more sizes.

    Different strokes for different folks.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 04-18-2018 at 2:39 PM.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  9. #24
    The problem with asking for specific advise on a bench is that the love or hate we have for various features is directly proportional to the way we use that feature (or angst over the lack of it). Vise racking and the narrow span of the guide rods/screw(s) finally drove me to twin screws at the face and end positions. Never been happier. I do have a little parrot vise that I clamp in the twin screw for odd angled stuff. Enjoy the journey and don't stress out trying to make a lifelong decision based on one bench or vise.
    She said “How many woodworking tools do you need?”
    I said “Why? Do you know someone who is selling some?”


  10. Quote Originally Posted by Matt Lau View Post

    A few questions:
    1. Tail vise or no tail vise?

    2. Split top or Single?

    3. Vise

    4. How thick?

    5. Base joinery:
    Hi Matt, I built my workbench just on 4 years ago. If you like I'll talk you through the reasons behind each decision, and how those decisions are travelling after 4 years of use. I'm a self-taught woodworker going on 9 years now, who likes to dabble in all sorts of different aspects of woodwork, mostly with hand-tools; so the bench has been put to varied uses. Currently I'm using it to build a 2.5m long dining table.

    1. Tail Vise. I built a wooden, L-shaped tail vise, using a cheap metal vise screw. Best Decision Ever. I have not found a reason to regret it. The top is 1.9m long; with the vise extended I can support work from underneath up to 2.5m long. the standard tail vise task of clamping between dogs is extremely useful, not just for planing, but for light carving, stabilising for chisel work, holding the drop saw in place and lots of other handy tasks. One thing I have found really useful is having a vise that is open on 3 sides - particularly when holding oddly shaped work, or holding onto my turning chuck and having a bowl I am carving/dremelling hanging out the side for easy access.

    2. Split top. I started out building a single top, then when I realised I didn't have enough long clamps, changed it to a split top. I haven't regretted it. The cons were in the added complexity of the build - getting things coplanar, flattening tops and undersides, attaching an endpiece for the L-vise. No cons so far in the use, only pros. On the back piece I put a metal woodworker's vice as the split top afforded me the ability to be able to cut either side of the jaws. I have added flexibility in clamping (very handy), the centre till lifts up to be a back-board/planing stop (also surprisingly handy). No problems with rigidity/flexing/movement - but both pieces are securely fastened to an over-engineered base, and joined together with an endpiece/breadboard.

    3. Vise Choice. I have 3 vises - an L-shaped tail vise, a leg vise as a face vise and a metal woodworking vise on the opposite rear end. twin dog holes in the back vise's chop allows for holding curved work (opposite holes in the bench top). The leg vise I made myself using another cheap vise screw, with the bottom support made from some all-thread and a foot wheel (because bending down to move a pin is so 20th Century). $40 AUD all-up for a rock-solid, easy to use, versatile vise. I had never used one before, but have found a leg vise to be a very, very good addition to the bench - advantages are the depth of the screw; I can put even larger items in them, provided they stay to one side; it has an insane opening width; it has exceptional holding power compared to a metal woodworking vise. If I build another bench, I might replace the metal vise with a patternmaker's vise, but the other two vises would be the same. I haven't used a twin-screw vise, but am yet to find the necessity for it in my work - every problem it solves, I have been able to with my current setup (albeit not always as easily as it would have allowed)

    4. How thick? About 85mm (3 1/3 inches). I built it out of 90x45mm construction pine, which limited my thickness. I wouldn't want thinner. It's rock-solid at this thickness.

    5. Base Joinery. Drawbored Mortise and Tenon. It's immovable, interlocked and not hard to do.

    Other considerations - I made provision (but ploughing a groove in the underside of the top) for later installation of a deadman, but haven't had the need. I have just tended to drill holes in the leg for the holdfasts to go into if the wood is long enough to need extra support. Twice now I have regretted not having a front apron (or at least a lip) to clamp against, but it was a minor irritation that was quickly worked around. Having the legs in line with the top, though, has been really handy.

    And a couple of pictures, to give you an idea what it looks like.
    wb 121.JPG

    wb 122.JPG

    But ultimately, it is your bench for your uses. Make it to please you and meet your needs, not to please us and meet ours!

  11. #26
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Northeast PA
    Posts
    334
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Mules View Post
    Hi Matt, I built my workbench just on 4 years ago. If you like I'll talk you through the reasons behind each decision, and how those decisions are travelling after 4 years of use. I'm a self-taught woodworker going on 9 years now, who likes to dabble in all sorts of different aspects of woodwork, mostly with hand-tools; so the bench has been put to varied uses. Currently I'm using it to build a 2.5m long dining table.

    1. Tail Vise. I built a wooden, L-shaped tail vise, using a cheap metal vise screw. Best Decision Ever. I have not found a reason to regret it. The top is 1.9m long; with the vise extended I can support work from underneath up to 2.5m long. the standard tail vise task of clamping between dogs is extremely useful, not just for planing, but for light carving, stabilising for chisel work, holding the drop saw in place and lots of other handy tasks. One thing I have found really useful is having a vise that is open on 3 sides - particularly when holding oddly shaped work, or holding onto my turning chuck and having a bowl I am carving/dremelling hanging out the side for easy access.

    2. Split top. I started out building a single top, then when I realised I didn't have enough long clamps, changed it to a split top. I haven't regretted it. The cons were in the added complexity of the build - getting things coplanar, flattening tops and undersides, attaching an endpiece for the L-vise. No cons so far in the use, only pros. On the back piece I put a metal woodworker's vice as the split top afforded me the ability to be able to cut either side of the jaws. I have added flexibility in clamping (very handy), the centre till lifts up to be a back-board/planing stop (also surprisingly handy). No problems with rigidity/flexing/movement - but both pieces are securely fastened to an over-engineered base, and joined together with an endpiece/breadboard.

    3. Vise Choice. I have 3 vises - an L-shaped tail vise, a leg vise as a face vise and a metal woodworking vise on the opposite rear end. twin dog holes in the back vise's chop allows for holding curved work (opposite holes in the bench top). The leg vise I made myself using another cheap vise screw, with the bottom support made from some all-thread and a foot wheel (because bending down to move a pin is so 20th Century). $40 AUD all-up for a rock-solid, easy to use, versatile vise. I had never used one before, but have found a leg vise to be a very, very good addition to the bench - advantages are the depth of the screw; I can put even larger items in them, provided they stay to one side; it has an insane opening width; it has exceptional holding power compared to a metal woodworking vise. If I build another bench, I might replace the metal vise with a patternmaker's vise, but the other two vises would be the same. I haven't used a twin-screw vise, but am yet to find the necessity for it in my work - every problem it solves, I have been able to with my current setup (albeit not always as easily as it would have allowed)

    4. How thick? About 85mm (3 1/3 inches). I built it out of 90x45mm construction pine, which limited my thickness. I wouldn't want thinner. It's rock-solid at this thickness.

    5. Base Joinery. Drawbored Mortise and Tenon. It's immovable, interlocked and not hard to do.

    Other considerations - I made provision (but ploughing a groove in the underside of the top) for later installation of a deadman, but haven't had the need. I have just tended to drill holes in the leg for the holdfasts to go into if the wood is long enough to need extra support. Twice now I have regretted not having a front apron (or at least a lip) to clamp against, but it was a minor irritation that was quickly worked around. Having the legs in line with the top, though, has been really handy.

    And a couple of pictures, to give you an idea what it looks like.
    wb 121.JPG

    wb 122.JPG

    But ultimately, it is your bench for your uses. Make it to please you and meet your needs, not to please us and meet ours!
    Nice bench, Michael. Are you left handed, or did you build it opposite of convention by default since you guys are upside down?
    ---Trudging the Road of Happy Destiny---

  12. Yes, left handed. As for upside down, I can't help it if the northern hemisphere doesn't know the correct way up to hold a map!

  13. #28
    Hey Glenn,

    Good comment there.

    I'm posting this silly thread because I know that I don't have a lot of woodworking experience. I figure that pretty much everyone on the neander forum has years or decades of seriously working wood and their own likes and dislikes...sorta like Paul Sellers with his quasi nicholsen, or Tage Fride with his Scandi Bench.

    While I know that opinions are subjective...they are informed.

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