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Thread: Workbench height and width

  1. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Pavlovsky View Post
    Andrey, your bench looks neat. No face vise or crochet, though? How do you clamp long stock for planing the edges?
    Yeah, these rules of thumbs that rely on body parts are only suitable for people of average proportions. I have monkey arms, for example (good for rock climbing, not too good for pull-ups).
    --Gene
    It is more like English workbench in this regard, no vise yet. I can clamp a board to wide apron. Apron is 15 cm tall and worktop is 5.4 cm thick. So, there is plenty of place to clamp to it underneath.

    DSC_0041a.jpg

    But I usually do not plane edges like that. I prefer to shoot them, with the plane on its side (might not work for some wooden planes though).

    DSC_0766a.jpg

    That means that my workbench is very flat (used that #7 to flatten it) to use like that. And I also use workbench to check boards for flatness. That means that it is good when it is slightly bigger than the biggest piece I try to plane. Much faster to use flat workbench to check for twist than winding sticks (which I don't have), for example.

    I wanted to add leg vise to it but it didn't happen yet and it works for me even without it.

  2. #92
    I see. You have many expensive looking planes

  3. #93
    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    Doug, I have analysed this to death. Death, I say!

    You may wish to cure your insomnia by reading a few of my ramblings on ergonomics and Centre of Effort, here: http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Commentary/Index.html

    (these are not long articles - if you summon the fortitude to read them - and they will explain more of my thinking on the relationship between handles, bench height, and how we push a hand plane).

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    I'm sure I will regret weighing in on this, but I hate to think people are imagining they're planing all wrong just because their forearms aren't perfectly horizontal.
    Derek, I don't think your pictures are a representative cross section--I think they are skewed toward supporting your claim. They are mostly (1) bevel up planes with their unusually straight handles, (2) unusual positions (Sellers is using one hand and is standing 2 feet behind the plane, Garrett Hack is planing a door edge that appears to be high above the bench top), or (3) people coming off the end of the board, which is indeed where the elbow will drop the most.
    It's interesting that you criticize the pic of Chris Schwarz, who contradicts your hypothesis, and compare it unfavorably to Charlesworth. I'd take Chris's position any day, which is more representative of how someone working primarily with hand tools will work. Charlesworth is using a tight, four-fingered grip (not something I'd recommend) on his bevel up plane, and his front hand position, while occasionally useful, is not what one does most of the time.
    In fact, of all the people in the pics, Schwarz is the only one using a BD plane to do heavy work.
    Traditional handles have not changed much over 300 years for a reason. They are angled down slightly for a reason, which is as Doug Dawson suggested--to apply some down force at the beginning of a heavy cut, with the arm rotating through the cut and ending more horizontal as we come off the board.
    Bringing this back to the original topic: Like Oskar, I built a Roubo style bench without a bench to work on. I used two 24"-high sawhorses, bracing the front one against a wall. Once I had a 4"-thick piece flattened, I used that as a work surface. I was surprised to discover how comfortable a 28" work surface was. I don't think I would have survived that bench if I'd had a Sellers-style 38" bench. A low bench and traditional handles on bevel down planes will be the best option for people using primarily hand tools, allowing them to use there legs and body weight, and to apply a bit of down force when needed.
    "For me, chairs and chairmaking are a means to an end. My real goal is to spend my days in a quiet, dustless shop doing hand work on an object that is beautiful, useful and fun to make." --Peter Galbert

  4. #94
    Thanks for posting, Steve. I could not agree more. None of the people pictured in Derek's post work by hand to any extent. Some barely know how to use a plane.

    The idea that a couple engineers and a few hobbyists might come up with a better handle design is laughable.

  5. #95
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    Informative thread. I saved both pages so that when I build a real bench (still using the one I made 20 years ago from a store bought maple top and 3 1/2" sq oak legs salvaged from the old Dietzgen drafting table factory) I can refer to it. I made these bench horses that drop into the dog holes in the top to raise the ht of the bench when doing cut outs with power tools, clamping tops, fitting small pieces, eating pizza, etc.

    20200123_162510.jpg

    I wind up using them a lot - more than I thought I would. Certainly not stable enough to plane on but handy just the same.
    If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

  6. #96
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    In the 'days of yore' so fondly being invoked if you hadn't moved on from four squaring lumber by the time you were in your late teens or early twenties then you were probably out of the profession altogether. Young backs are supple, and would have been able to perform with less than optimal bench heights, though generally speaking the preference would have been to be more on top of the work, more like the position shown in the Chris Schwarz photo. A forearm parallel to the benchtop has the bench a little too high for pure planing of board faces and four squaring stock for eleven hours a day, six days a week. Planing edges automatically presents the workpiece higher, but working edges requires more finesse than force so no big deal.

    I think the George Seddon firm of London had over 200 employees at its peak in the late 1700s. Chippendale, dozens, but was not as big as the Seddon operation. Rest assured that the older master craftsmen were not four-squaring stock. What they needed was planed up and brought to them pursuant to a cut list. Anything else would have been the height of absurdity. We have tailed apprentices now, or a fool for a boss.

    Go ahead and work for a year or so completely by hand, whatever it takes to get it out of your system. There's not all that much skill involved in four squaring rough lumber, and it seems such a waste of time if doing so keeps you from developing carving, veneering, doing more complex shaped work, and other skills. If you can't absorb the principles of preparing rough lumber within a week or so, something is wrong. After that, it's simply a matter of being able to physically do the work and still have some semblance of productivity - amateur or professional.
    Last edited by Charles Guest; 01-25-2020 at 3:32 PM.

  7. #97
    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Guest View Post
    In the 'days of yore' so fondly being invoked if you hadn't moved on from four squaring lumber by the time you were in your late teens or early twenties then you were probably out of the profession altogether. Young backs are supple, and would have been able to perform with less than optimal bench heights, though generally speaking the preference would have been to be more on top of the work, more like the position shown in the Chris Schwarz photo. A forearm parallel to the benchtop has the bench a little too high for pure planing of board faces and four squaring stock for eleven hours a day, six days a week. Planing edges automatically presents the workpiece higher, but working edges requires more finesse than force so no big deal.

    I think the George Seddon firm of London had over 200 employees at its peak in the late 1700s. Chippendale, dozens, but was not as big as the Seddon operation. Rest assured that the older master craftsmen were not four-squaring stock. What they needed was planed up and brought to them pursuant to a cut list. Anything else would have been the height of absurdity. We have tailed apprentices now, or a fool for a boss.

    Go ahead and work for a year or so completely by hand, whatever it takes to get it out of your system. There's not all that much skill involved in four squaring rough lumber, and it seems such a waste of time if doing so keeps you from developing carving, veneering, doing more complex shaped work, and other skills. If you can't absorb the principles of preparing rough lumber within a week or so, something is wrong. After that, it's simply a matter of being able to physically do the work and still have some semblance of productivity - amateur or professional.
    Sounds like a lot of fantasy to me. I can tell you from experience that it is a lot easier to teach a teenager to make neat dovetails or other joinery than to teach him to do stock preparation in an efficient manner. "not all that much skill in four squaring rough lumber"??? I cannot imagine a skilled person saying that.

  8. #98
    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Guest View Post
    In the 'days of yore' so fondly being invoked if you hadn't moved on from four squaring lumber by the time you were in your late teens or early twenties then you were probably out of the profession altogether. Young backs are supple, and would have been able to perform with less than optimal bench heights, though generally speaking the preference would have been to be more on top of the work, more like the position shown in the Chris Schwarz photo. A forearm parallel to the benchtop has the bench a little too high for pure planing of board faces and four squaring stock for eleven hours a day, six days a week. Planing edges automatically presents the workpiece higher, but working edges requires more finesse than force so no big deal.

    I think the George Seddon firm of London had over 200 employees at its peak in the late 1700s. Chippendale, dozens, but was not as big as the Seddon operation. Rest assured that the older master craftsmen were not four-squaring stock. What they needed was planed up and brought to them pursuant to a cut list. Anything else would have been the height of absurdity. We have tailed apprentices now, or a fool for a boss.

    Go ahead and work for a year or so completely by hand, whatever it takes to get it out of your system. There's not all that much skill involved in four squaring rough lumber, and it seems such a waste of time if doing so keeps you from developing carving, veneering, doing more complex shaped work, and other skills. If you can't absorb the principles of preparing rough lumber within a week or so, something is wrong. After that, it's simply a matter of being able to physically do the work and still have some semblance of productivity - amateur or professional.
    Craftsmen of the ancient age were like movie stars are today. They're just like you and me, only shorter. Actually, built like fireplugs. Have you seen the recent pictures of Kumail Nanjiani? He's totally ripped! I think they would have laughed at the modernist's complaint that planing is hard work. It's true, productivity is enhanced with the fancy new machines. I think I'll start practicing putting my pants on two legs at a time, so I can be like everybody else. What was the question again? :^)

  9. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warren Mickley View Post
    Sounds like a lot of fantasy to me. I can tell you from experience that it is a lot easier to teach a teenager to make neat dovetails or other joinery than to teach him to do stock preparation in an efficient manner. "not all that much skill in four squaring rough lumber"??? I cannot imagine a skilled person saying that.
    You don't have to imagine it, because I just said it. It's harder to dig a neat ditch quite frankly.

    Who do you think did this work in a busy, well-staffed 18th century shop? The only fantasy involved is one that suggests a master craftsman four-squaring his own material. I can't come of with an adjective for that notion that's not an expletive. It's bloody silly.

    I think I'm on the firmest of firm ground when I say that the 40 year old master cabinetmakers were not doing all the planing while the 15 year olds were doing layout, cutting joints, etc.
    Last edited by Charles Guest; 01-25-2020 at 4:27 PM.

  10. #100
    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Guest View Post
    In the 'days of yore' so fondly being invoked if you hadn't moved on from four squaring lumber by the time you were in your late teens or early twenties then you were probably out of the profession altogether.
    Is this true? I have never seen any evidence for it outside of large shops in London, where the degree of specialization was far higher than elsewhere. I imagine it was true in shops like the Townsend shop, but Townsend was about as typical a woodworker as Mozart was a composer…most shops were not doing elaborate carving for the super-rich.
    I can certainly think of places where it was not true…so much of what we know of 18th c. American woodworking comes from the Dominy shop, where only one or two people were working at a time. There is no indication of such a hierarchical division of labor there.
    The description in "The Joiner and Cabinet Maker" doesn't support your claim either. Apprenticeship was a two way street: The master was supposed to teach the apprentice to go out on his own after the contract was up. No way he'd be ready to do so if he spent all his time doing grunt work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Guest View Post

    Go ahead and work for a year or so completely by hand, whatever it takes to get it out of your system. There's not all that much skill involved in four squaring rough lumber, and it seems such a waste of time if doing so keeps you from developing carving, veneering, doing more complex shaped work, and other skills. If you can't absorb the principles of preparing rough lumber within a week or so, something is wrong. After that, it's simply a matter of being able to physically do the work and still have some semblance of productivity - amateur or professional.
    Most people today who work primarily by hand are hobbyists, and they do it for a wide variety of reasons. They may be doctors worried about their hands…people with PTSD…apartment woodworkers…SAPFM members who simply love working (mostly) without power. But there are lots of them, and stock prep will always be a part of what they do. Bringing it back once again to the original topic: the thread was started by a guy who works with all hand tools. That will inevitably color the sorts of projects he will do. Folks who do all their stock prep with machines will likely have different requirements and might prefer a different type of bench.
    Oh, and I'd have to agree with Warren: if you think that all of stock prep can be learned in a week, you likely have missed a few things. I've been doing it for years and haven't figured it all out yet.
    "For me, chairs and chairmaking are a means to an end. My real goal is to spend my days in a quiet, dustless shop doing hand work on an object that is beautiful, useful and fun to make." --Peter Galbert

  11. #101
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    Idk,

    I work wood for a living. Both with power tools and by hand. But making a living yes mostly with power tools.

    A bench well again o once upon a time was very hung up on these questions and the answers really mattered to me.

    And not to sound like a snob or better than just because I work with wood all day as itís not very romantic. I know what I. Gonna say will be viewed as elitist and snobby though.

    Largely a bench is a bench is a bench. I remember when I was building my bench so many said to me I have never had a proper woodworkers bench. All I ever had. Was a couple sheets of plywood laminated together atop a few sturdy legs. No dog holes, no vises nothing. If you need a plane stop screw one into the dam bench yada yada.

    So here goes my own revised opinion after about five years of full time shop work at nearly 60-70hrs a week. First I have yet to see a actual full time woodworker have a proper woodworkers bench like a Roubo and or whatever. Second all I have seen are plywood benches atop various bases of 4x4 and or more plywood. Everyone one seems to get along just fine. I have also not seen any of these shallow 21Ē deep things itís actually the opposite build it as big as you can so you dint run out of room when you need it. Height well not to heigh and not to low. Heigh enough that when working your not slumped over and low enough that you can put something together on it. Most donít get to have multiple benches in a shop environment.

    Ok ok enough elitist I make a living working wood. Again there is nothing elite about it Iím kind lower middle class and will die with no teeth.

    I have a beautiful ash Roubo 6Ē thick x 28Ē deep and 9í long. The legs are 10x6Ē and I think itís 31Ē tall for my girlish 5 10Ē 145 lb frame. I was advised when building it by another woodworker ďfurniture makerĒ who had been through all this to skip all vises, dog holes so forth and so on and just make a flat solid surface that would never move. I only half listened and this is what I have found.

    I donít use the vise much of ever I tend to you clamps and sacrificial strips as plane stops so fun and so in. The dog holes are as suggested ďholes in the bench that will ultimately be more in the way then they get usedĒ. What has held true is the bench is as flat as the day it was made and I can do anything on it and it wonít move so much as a mm in any direction. I could have a warehouse style dance party of elephants fueled by crystal meth and xtacy and at the end of a couple days it would be the only thing left in one piece.

    Ok ok I digress again, what can I say I have to entertain myself.

    I ignored all with the dimensions and Iím so glad I did. Be it making cabinetry or furniture boxes whatever the 28Ē depth and 9í length are only ever a asset as is the 6Ē thickness and the monster 6x10Ē legs. So many say a waste of timber and I disagree totally as Iím gonna make the bench into a coffin shortly before my death and be buried in it. No wait, I want a sky burial fed to vultures atop a Himalayan mountain peak so I donít know you can have my bench and wasted stock, make of it what you want when Iím in a birds belly.

    What else has held true. The dam dog holes and leg vise. I wouldnít remove them per say but if I built another bench I also would omit them. If I wan to cut joinery I use a moxon vise. I donít regret the bench and honestly even though I slave away at a plywood melamine bench day in and day out if I had my way Iíd work in my darn fancy pants bench everyday. Iíll say this when I do work on it I love every minute of it. Mostly itís dead flat and I love that and itís solid like the way I like my machines.

    But do what you think suits you and you will enjoy as after all thatís what this whole silly Woodworking thing is about.

    427B0890-6EB7-452A-AA38-95383F7E602F.jpg

    And when bench building gets old..

    78252595-BF91-4A53-A21F-7BE8A751E555.jpg
    Last edited by Patrick Walsh; 01-25-2020 at 5:40 PM.

  12. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Pavlovsky View Post
    Now some off-topic question, if I may?
    For the bench top, I'm going to use affordable 40 mm (1 1/2") thick laminated beech panels sold at a local constructions material store (they cut them to size and it costs about 90 EUR per square meter / 10.8 square feet). My plan is to glue two panels face-to-face for a total thickness of 80 mm (3 1/8"). How would I go about this glue-up, and what sort of clamping would I need? I have only a few clamps at the moment and will have to stock up on clamps at some point, I just don't know which kinds and in which sizes I would need, so I keep postponing it until I really need them. I've heard some advice to drill holes in the panel(s) and screw them together with glue, then remove the screws when the glue is dry. That would be a cheap solution, I guess but will result in a top which has a bunch of screw holes in it. I have also heard about split-top roubo benches, not sure if they have meaningful advantages in usage, but perhaps if it would be easier to glue up two half-tops? Or you may try to talk me out of this plan altogether
    I built mine from laminated beech panels, too. But I used 27 mm (1-1/16") thick ones and it was cheaper 5 years ago, like 35 EUR for 60x200 cm. I glued two panels together for top parts (I have 3 top pieces) and stretchers, and three panels for legs. I have bought some 40 mm too, that is much more difficult to glue and require more force when gluing them face to face to take out a bow or a twist in them. But you could slice them in long planks and then spin them 90 degree to put them on the edge and then glue together. Pretty much like you would do it from solid wood planks. At my local mill I can get steamed beech for a price of 780 EUR for cubic meter, or about 1 EUR per 1 kg of beech. And oh boy, it requires sharp blade to cut it. If it is somewhat dull it will not dig it, even with downwards pressure, that apparently became another topic in this thread.

    It is not easy to hand plane those factory made panels - different segments of it might have different grain direction. It was at that time that I struggled to plane it with bevel up planes. Should be better with wooden planes with double blade though.

    I drilled holes for dowels before gluing up as that makes it unlikely to move sideways when clamping. And parallel clamps with 7000N clamping force were able to close it with dowels in place. I would also do it in two split top pieces - easier, not so heavy, clamping is easy and possible to replace individually when worn or whatever.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene Pavlovsky View Post
    I see. You have many expensive looking planes
    It was a wall tool cabinet build and many planes there just for finding their place and arrangement of them. It took couple of years to acquire them.
    Last edited by Andrey Kharitonkin; 01-25-2020 at 6:20 PM.

  13. #103
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    We have enjoyed this discussion before. If you want to work without machines and power tools, like the op, listen to Warren, Stephen etc.

    If you use machines like Sellers does and also power tools like Derek does to support their work, take their advise.

    Last time we had a discussion, I posted a vid using a wooden jack plane taking deep cuts. The dynamic movements used in that process were very different than the light, refining cuts used by Derek.

    If we could jump in our Delorean and pass over a bevel up jointer to a pre industrial woodworker, ground to a steep cutting edge, maybe gave a sales pitch demonstrating planing 18mm pine on edge with a rope and a power point on vector forces, just maybe the future of woodworking will be made good. Just before leaving we could lift up their workbenches and regulate the paralel fore arm.

    I think they would of preferred penacilin.

  14. #104
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    Hahahah

    A man with a response clearly after my heart..

    My point is it’s a dam bench just get to work. You will make anything work some better than others but a darn bench is not going to make or break you. With that said I’m spoiled and love me some excessive tool obsessing as much as the next nerd.

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Haydon View Post
    We have enjoyed this discussion before. If you want to work without machines and power tools, like the op, listen to Warren, Stephen etc.

    If you use machines like Sellers does and also power tools like Derek does to support their work, take their advise.

    Last time we had a discussion, I posted a vid using a wooden jack plane taking deep cuts. The dynamic movements used in that process were very different than the light, refining cuts used by Derek.

    If we could jump in our Delorean and pass over a bevel up jointer to a pre industrial woodworker, ground to a steep cutting edge, maybe gave a sales pitch demonstrating planing 18mm pine on edge with a rope and a power point on vector forces, just maybe the future of woodworking will be made good. Just before leaving we could lift up their workbenches and regulate the paralel fore arm.

    I think they would of preferred penacilin.

  15. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Voigt View Post
    ....
    Derek, I don't think your pictures are a representative cross section--I think they are skewed toward supporting your claim. They are mostly (1) bevel up planes with their unusually straight handles, (2) unusual positions (Sellers is using one hand and is standing 2 feet behind the plane, Garrett Hack is planing a door edge that appears to be high above the bench top), or (3) people coming off the end of the board, which is indeed where the elbow will drop the most.

    It's interesting that you criticize the pic of Chris Schwarz, who contradicts your hypothesis, and compare it unfavorably to Charlesworth. I'd take Chris's position any day, which is more representative of how someone working primarily with hand tools will work. Charlesworth is using a tight, four-fingered grip (not something I'd recommend) on his bevel up plane, and his front hand position, while occasionally useful, is not what one does most of the time....
    Au contraire, Steve. Of the 12 pictures of planes shown (in that post), 9 were BD planes. I combed videos, some from YouTube, some from magazines, and some from DVDs, for demonstrations of how planes were used .. how they were held, how they were pushed, and so on. I did not want just descriptions in writing because not this may vary from what one believes they do. All the woodworkers involved were planing boards. All the woodworkers involved were well-known and considered (except by Warren, but that is no surprise) to be very experienced in this regard.

    Why should it be relevant that Garrett Hack is planing a door - this is at bench height. The other photo is planing a panel, at that is on the bench top. The photo of Frank Klausz is taken from a video, and that he is coming off a board is irrelevant - this is just a photo, and I mentioned this point in the text.

    Steve, I really respect your skills in building woodies, and I would like to believe that I remain am open to critique, but these comments of yours are way off the mark.

    Edit to add: with regard the 4-fingered grip, I was also taken aback. However, it is a grip on a LN BU plane in each case, one which uses a Bailey handle. That is a commonality, but I don’t think that it is necessarily the factor. The fact is that, with all BU planes, the handle is further back than on Bailey designs, and their is no place for a forefinger. It has me thinking that both Hack and Charlesworth have found their way to accommodate. Hack has an atypical grip on his #604 as well. This does not interfere with their ability to wield a plane.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Last edited by Derek Cohen; 01-25-2020 at 11:13 PM.

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