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Thread: Considerations when building a bench

  1. #1

    Considerations when building a bench

    First off there is no perfect woodworking bench, there is only the perfect woodworking bench for me.

    There is no perfect material to build a bench from, only what I chose to use. There are some choices for the top that are better than others but that is a different subject.

    There is no one perfect style, or perfect sizes, not to mention number of vises or lack there of that can be included..

    The following is a record of my present 4th build. I know that for most people especially for the hand tool crowd, the Roubo bench is the only one to have. But about 25-30 years ago I saw a video on Wood Finishing by Frank Klausz and latter on Dovetailing a Drawer by again Frank Klausz. I watched him use his bench and heard him expound on it and I was hooked on the European style because it mirrored my style of woodworking. I did somewhat use the Roubo style, as best as I could, for the left handed side of my bench. And in jest, for the Roubo lovers out there I considered it the back side of my bench

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    Anyway I thought I would take you through the steps I took to make my present bench.

    I. I visualize very well but a lot of people don't, But visualizing and working through details
    are two different animals.
    A. First of all the space should define the size not built to a measured drawing and
    then try to fit it in the space.
    B. A mock up of bench size helps the bench fit the size.
    1. Using cheap material saves money if design changed need to be made.
    2. By using cheap material it can be reused else wear.
    3. It maybe a mock up but you have a makeshift bench to use in the process..
    4. Exact width is impossible to hit exactly because it is a glue up and wood
    dimensions it.

    II. The height of the bench is probably the most important dimension of the whole

    A. The thickness and type of material can affect height.
    B. Type of work mostly performed at the bench determines height.
    1. planning will require a certain height.
    2. Assembly may require a different height.
    3. spending a little time doing even mock up of different operation may eliminate
    a sore back at a latter time.
    C. If using a floor mat of some kind it can add over a half inch to height.
    1. I use an interlocking floor mat because the required size is not available
    2. glued to a 1/4 piece of plywood so it would stop being coming apart in use.
    3. .In my case screwed to floor to keep it from sliding around.

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    III. Vises effect benchtop design.

    A. A leg vise effects not only top design but length of leg also.
    B. Shoulder vise effects the height of legs as well as design of the front leg design.
    C. Tail vise and wagon vises effects length and placement of the stretchers.

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    If you would like more ideas about custom bench building let me know.

  2. #2

    Congrats on finding a bench that works for you. Like you said, one size doesn't fit all and nothing can drive you barking mad as quickly as a bench that doesn't work for you.


  3. #3
    You got that right

  4. #4
    Good stuff Tom! Glad to see you posting again!
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    South West Ontario
    Lovely bench Tom, no small task. Like you I favour the (Tage Frid, James Krenov, Frank Klausz) Danish style bench that the Danes built for the Swedes. That was implanted at 14 in my case.

    I agree the height is crucial, donít be guided by tradition. Mans height has changed: up, down (industrial revolution), up over the years. The last thing you want is a bench that kills your back. Length of your bench is second, to accommodate your type of planned work and perhaps unplanned!

    Like you I modified the design:to improve the bench from my previous experience and accommodate my big feet. The essential elements are there however.

    There are many small details that are not so small in reality.

    When you work at your bench and it feels like you are cheating, you know you got it right.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Borger, Texas

    Thank you for the post and thoughts. As I mentioned in the post on "two benches," I hope for a shop in the coming year, and as a part of that hope to build a bench, so the comments on benches are ones I read carefully, and the closer it gets will study even more carefully.

    Much appreciated.

    Thanks and regards,


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