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Thread: Rock maple? Ipe? Finally may start building a decent workbench. want advice

  1. #1

    Rock maple? Ipe? Finally may start building a decent workbench. want advice

    Dear Creekers,

    The shutdown allowed me to sorta get my workshop shop in order.
    I plan to build in some fast organization over the remainder of the year (probably just simple pocket holed storage).

    In the meantime, I'd like to finally build that workbench that I bought wood for in 2017.
    A few questions:

    1. I have rock maple. Should I use Ipe instead?
    2. How think? 3 inches? 4 inches?
    3. It'll be 7 feet long (the longest board that actually fits in my car).
    4. Hardware? Bolts? I'd like it to be disassemblable. Wheels and casters too, since my workshop is pretty small.
    5. Split top? Solid? Stan hated the split top, and recommended a solid top. Meanwhile my friend Russ, recommended a split top for clamps.
    FWIW, I'm using the Veritas surface screw down clamps.
    6. Any other add ons? Not sure if I should add a bench hook?
    7. Additional tips?

    As for vice, I'm thinking of finally getting a Benchcrafted vice....it's been on my list for quite a while.

    FWIW, I have a Blum workhorse folding workbench and some saw horses.
    I've also finally gotten an electric jointer, makita lunchbox planer, and a tiny sawstop.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Southeast virginia
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    18
    I made two benches based on this idea. I used larger section legs and stretchers to get some extra weight. I put wheels on one. It is labeled as $175 Workbench but will probably cost more now. I used leg vises versus the recommended because I had them. This plan makes it easy to build as long or wide as you want. Really a guideline.
    https://www.popularwoodworking.com/w...Workbench2.pdf

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Mid coast Maine
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    432
    A lot of your questions only you can answer based on the way you work, and experience in being able to build something without bolts, etc. I would not recommend Ipe as the wood. Splinters easily and fester almost immediately at least in me. I built a small deck from that evil wood, you have to drill everything, I broke tools just drilling holes and before the job was over I was allergic to the dust from working it. I can handle it (watch out for splinters) but I can no longer cut or sand it or I will have a rash on my hands within an hour.
    Jim
    Ancora Yacht Service

  4. #4
    I installed a large quantity of ipe for a deck build: based on that experience, I'd advise that you go with the hard maple for the bench. Hard maple is a classic in terms of bench construction: I don't think you will be disappointed.
    [IMG][/IMG]

  5. #5
    Hard maple costs more than soft, mainly because it's whiter. I would use soft maple,which is harder than the traditional
    beech tops.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Longview WA
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    I'd like to finally build that workbench that I bought wood for in 2017.
    A few questions:

    1. I have rock maple. Should I use Ipe instead?
    Use what you already have.

    2. How think? 3 inches? 4 inches?
    That is up to you. If you chop a lot of mortises, thicker might be better.

    4. Hardware? Bolts? I'd like it to be disassemblable. Wheels and casters too, since my workshop is pretty small.
    You might want to search > moravian bench site:sawmillcreek.org < Ken Hatch has posted a lot about his easy to disassemble benches.

    5. Split top? Solid? Stan hated the split top, and recommended a solid top. Meanwhile my friend Russ, recommended a split top for clamps.
    Are you building this for yourself or someone else? My bench plan has a split top with a tool tray down the middle. My cuppa tea, maybe not yours.

    6. Any other add ons? Not sure if I should add a bench hook?
    This has me stumped. In my world a bench hook is not part of the bench. They are accessories:

    Bench Hooks.jpg

    Shown are two pairs and one that is over 20 years old. They are very helpful for many tasks.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  7. #7
    U dont need a 7 foot bench to support 7 foot lumber.

    Id go with a cheaper wood that planes easier than ipe or maple. Use your maple for a project.

  8. #8
    If you have the room for a 7 foot bench: make it a 7 foot bench. My bench is 6 feet and if I had the room, I'd have gone 7'.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Silicon Valley, CA
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    920
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Lau View Post
    ... In the meantime, I'd like to finally build that workbench that I bought wood for in 2017. A few questions....
    As he often does, Jim beat me to it and said it better than I could have.

    There have been several recent threads, over the last couple months, that have been about workbenches. You should search the forums for them because they wander, as threads usually do, and contain info relevant in general even if not strictly on topic. Lots of resources have been linked. Off the top of my head Christopher Schwarz has a new workbench book, the Anarchists Work Bench, about building a cheap Roubo with the PDF available for free. He has a couple from earlier too: the PopWood-era ones, his survey of workbench history, and LAP has brought Scott Landis's The Workbench Book back into print. Also, Megan Fitzpatrick has a blog post, someone linked to, listing the benches PopWood had covered while she was there. (Probably at PopWood or LAP blogs.)

    Lastly, you list many machines. The benches you'll get recommended in this forum will tend to be traditional handtool benches. (Roubo, Nicholson, Scandinavian / European, Moravian, etc.) If working primarily with machines there are other options which might fit better for you. The Festool MFT springing to mind as the more extreme example.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    ... You might want to search > moravian bench site:sawmillcreek.org < Ken Hatch has posted a lot about his easy to disassemble benches. ...
    +1, just doesn't seem adequate given you're wanting something that'll breakdown. Ken's documented several variations and, at least once, linked to the original article on Will Myers' blog.

    Also the Benchcrafted Split-Top Rubio will (they say) breakdown, though it doesn't seemed designed to do so regularly like the Moravian. (Sounds more like move it once a decade.) Anyway, they sell plans, a kit, and assembled versions.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Lau View Post
    6. Any other add ons? Not sure if I should add a bench hook?

    This has me stumped. In my world a bench hook is not part of the bench. They are accessories,
    Matt, do you mean a crochet? It's not normally needed or used on a bench with a face vise, but your bench.

    Also a planing stop would be traditional on a handtool bench, but isn't necessary with a tail vise. (And there are several versions, traditional and less so.)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    South Coastal Massachusetts
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    6,841
    I had a split top in my last bench. The most useful aspect was the removable center batten.

    It wasn't as practical as having a solid top.

    As it turns out, clamping things from the center line of the bench was less common than dropping something into the unlit plane cubby underneath.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    Use what you already have.



    That is up to you. If you chop a lot of mortises, thicker might be better.



    You might want to search > moravian bench site:sawmillcreek.org < Ken Hatch has posted a lot about his easy to disassemble benches.



    Are you building this for yourself or someone else? My bench plan has a split top with a tool tray down the middle. My cuppa tea, maybe not yours.



    This has me stumped. In my world a bench hook is not part of the bench. They are accessories:

    Bench Hooks.jpg

    Shown are two pairs and one that is over 20 years old. They are very helpful for many tasks.

    jtk
    Thanks Jim,

    I do not want to sound like a broken record but if someone needs a stable bench that can be moved easily and is easy and reasonably cheap to build it is hard to beat a Moravian style bench.

    ken

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    U don’t need a 7 foot bench to support 7 foot lumber.

    I’d go with a cheaper wood that planes easier than ipe or maple. Use your maple for a project.
    Prashun,

    I couldn't agree more. I've used a lot of Beech to build benches, mostly because it was about the same price as Poplar but truth is my old DF and SYP benches are as functional as the ones made of Beech.

    ken

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    South West Ontario
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    1,226
    Matt, after collecting wood for a while you will have some very clear ideas what you want in a bench. I would urge you to think about what you like to make or will have to make. Functionality is king.
    Elaborate vises are not necessarily as functional. Most face vises will not hold a plank vertically so you can work on the end.
    You can have the front of the bench thicker than the rest of the top and create a clamping surface underneath that is out of the way and the clamps stay out of the way of the work.

    Mobility is an issue for you. Any decent top will be too heavy to move on your own. You can have stretchers and ends that detach, so moving is simpler.

    Think about dog holes, round or rectangular? Rectangular is more work but built in when the front is assembled not horrible. The clamping area is far larger and can be angled in at 4 degrees. Better holding....forever!

    A heavy but detachable bench works for me. Top 220lbs, bottom 165lbs. Each stretcher is 40lbs. I had wood for a top 7 minus one inch so I made the tail vise open 13 when needed.

    Draw it on paper, think about using it.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    SoCal
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    814
    You might wish to peruse a copy of Scott Landis' boook which I believe is entitled The Workbench Book. It covers a huge variety of benches for all manner of woodworking.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Mid coast Maine
    Posts
    432
    There is a free download of Chris Schwarz latest workbench book here https://blog.lostartpress.com/wp-con...020_v5.1-1.pdf

    i see you on other forums Matt and know you have an interest in musical instruments so keep that in mind while you are working out the details.
    Jim
    Ancora Yacht Service

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