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Thread: Questions about Scandinavian Benches, etc.

  1. #1
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    Questions about Scandinavian Benches, etc.

    Hi guys,

    I've been contemplating starting back up my apartment woodworking endeavors, which were so costly and difficult before. But, I like making things...
    So, I'm ordering some chisels, a bit and brace, and an antique dovetail saw and No. 2 Stanley Bailey (Expensive, but I'm not going to be making large things often enough to justify even a tenon saw or No. 3, I think, and want to specialize in smaller work, and I dislike block planes.)

    My main constraints, and these are huge ones, are:

    1) Sound
    2) Space
    3) Able to be knocked down and moved, not too terribly heavy. I move a LOT. That means minimal tools, and staying as light weight as possible.

    I'd also like it to look somewhat nice (a change from my previous benches) just in case it finds a home one day in the living room or something. If it looks good enough to serve as a regular table or desk one day, all the better.

    I'm looking to make very small projects. Possibly very small pieces of furniture, but mostly just toys and small boxes -- that sort of thing.
    As far as space, I'm thinking the largest I should go with is around 18" x 36".

    My first question is a general one:

    1. If you were concerned about space and noise, what sort of bench would you build? Keeping in mind the small size (1.5 x 3 feet) and mobility as a necessity.
    In particular, how would you limit the vibrations that the bench imparts to the floor? Last time I did this, I found a couple of problems:
    - Thin benchtops tend to act as soundboards and amplify chopping noises
    - I also would imagine that a very heavy bench, due to its mass, can be more easily decoupled from the floor whilst still relying on its mass to provide resistance against chopping and the like.
    On this point, something like a Roubo with a super thick top would be ideal, except for two problems; namely that it can't be moved easily, and that it's so small that there's not enough material to support the leg joinery unless the legs are far too close together.

    Questions about Scandinavian / Sloyd designs:

    I saw a little Sjoberg's bench almost exactly this size (I think 14" x 36") called the "Junior / Senior" which inspired me, and also got me considering a Scandinavian / Sloyd design.
    I also love the look of the simple, older style vintage Sloyd workbenches, if you do a search on google: https://www.google.com/search?q=sloy...4cYRfkbb_EtLKM

    I do not want to use a fancy press vise or tail vise like on large scandinavian workbenches. I'm thinking something more similar to the Sjoberg. I want to keep the entire bench simple and quickish to build -- not too much joinery or anything, though I do think I will mortise the leg assemply together. Preferably no unnecessary joinery on the top.

    However, I don't really know how these benches are constructed traditionally, in their simplest form. I've scoured the internet, and can't seem to answer the following questions:

    2. How are the legs attached? They seem to not be attached by all that much. These things don't rack? I can't find references freely available on the internet, and I can't find much on simpler constructions. I want to know the "bare minimum" or the "most basic" design, not the insanely elaborate and ornate ones.
    3. How is the top made? How thick is the top typically? They seem really thin, and sometimes (usually?) with skirts that are also narrow, but a little thicker than the top.
    4. Is this bench style just totally not suited to my situation?

    I was thinking of attempting to build a very simple version of this, with just a flat, 2" or so thick top and no skirt / rim, or only a very short skirt in the front perhaps (*this brings up another point: it'd be nice to use with a chair that can scoot up underneath, since it necessarily needs to be somewhat on the short side). The legs I don't really know how to attach just yet. I'm not opposed to simple hardware methods, but I don't want something too flimsy, and whatever the method, it must be easy to disassemble.

    This all depends on what materials I find available to me, though. My budget is not terribly high, so pine is likely going to be my go-to.
    Last edited by Luke Dupont; 10-15-2021 at 2:48 AM.

  2. #2
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    Dear Luke,

    While I am not qualified to answer all your questions, I can hopefully help on a portion of them.

    I own two small Scandinavian benches, an old Danish school one found on a flea market in Denmark and the Swedish one you mention, found on another flea market in Denmark.


    Danish
    The school bench I bought was sold without legs, it seems it was attached to the wall of the class. Obviously with your noise constraints, you will not want to attach it to the wall, but that is how mine was made apparently.





    I stored it in my attic along with the four benchdogs waiting to build new legs, I was unsure what should be the design.

    Then two years later on another flea market, I bumped into the exact same bench sold with some parts, I took a picture:




    Swedish
    Two months ago, I bumped into this modern bench still made. Mine was sold only with the short legs so I will do the 4 extensions.





    So if you need any measurments and pictures to help designing your own, I can help right now on the Danish one that I brought back home. I will be in my cabin in DK in 2 weeks time where I can take more measurments of the Swedish one if need be (but you can find a PDF on Sjöbergs' website)
    Last edited by Axel de Pugey; 10-15-2021 at 7:24 AM. Reason: Added 2 links

  3. #3
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    I have one of the little Lervad's, in use since bought new in 1977. Chris Swarz said that no one could use them, but I do. It does need some help, by being secured, or resting against something heavy, like a table saw, or 2x4 clamped to the strecthers, and abutting a wall, or fireplace, but I can tell you the number of square feet I've planed on it. In the last picture, it was clamped to a tablesaw.

    It knocks down quickly, easily, and has been moved Many times.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Tom M King; 10-15-2021 at 1:27 PM.

  4. #4
    It sounds to me like you want a Moravian bench.

  5. #5
    wine.jpg
    I have a small 48” x 15” roubo in my dining room. It is doing more important stuff than woodworking, but I did do some work on it and it does work quite well. At 36” long, I dunno, that’s pushing it. That said, if 36” x 18” is your goal, then everything at that size is portable without even having to be knocked down (I got that cherry/ash roubo out of my basement and up two half flights of stairs on my own WITH a busted elbow).

    If you peruse youtube you’ll find all manner of ingenious super compact workbench ideas – provided you are not married to an historical looking bench. Jay Bates just released a video today of a workbench based upon in the idea of a super sawhorse that I think would be very functional, and doesn’t look too bad either: https://youtu.be/ZlGSANE_9Yk But if you search small workbench and things like that, you’ll find all manner of ideas as a jumping off point.

    The tricky thing with any small bench of the size you want will be mass. You’ll need to throw a big sandbag or dumbells, etc. on the shelf to keep it from moving. Also, 18” wide can make things possibly a little tippy planing from front the back on the bench without splayed legs.

    Another option would be a low workbench. You could go super traditional with a “Roman” staked style bench or there are plenty of more updated styles you can find on youtube if you search low work bench. Many of them incorporate regular vises and work similar to an upright bench, just low. A staked style one tends to use a very different method of workholding utilizing a system of pegs and wedges that is very functional, but can sometimes be a little tricky cutting complicated joinery (they do use holdfasts though). A low bench can double as a coffee table in front of the couch allowing your workbench to disappear. But the big advantage of a low bench is that you sit on it so you won’t have any issues with the bench moving from being light in weight. But it IS kind of a different way of working and if you have any kind of back issues (like I have) then long stints can start to get uncomfortable. That said, when I use my low staked bench it IS pretty fun.

    As for sound……

    If you have a neighbor below you then you will need to decouple the bench from the floor with what’s called a floating floor. I own a recording studio and spend my day job making records so suffice to say, I know a wee bit about this stuff. Probably the cheapest and easiest solution is to get a single sheet of rigid fiberglass, like Owens Corning 703 or an equivalent (Knauf makes the same stuff). Get a 2” thick piece. These come in sheets that are 48”x24” so you will only need one since that’s bigger than your bench (you can cut this stuff down with a butcher knife or any thin and sharp and long enough blade). You want to wrap it in something so you don’t get fiberglass on you anytime you touch it. You can wrap it in fabric and just tape the fabric on the underside, some companies make pre-made fabric sleeves for them. You could also just use a black garbage bag in a pinch. Anyway, then you’ll need a THICK piece of plywood or MDF 48x24. Thicker the better – ¾” would be acceptable. Put that on top of your rigid fiberglass. Then put the bench on top of the whole thing. This will provide a stable platform for the bench and will do a VERY good job of decoupling it from the floor without the bench bouncing up and down. So when you pound on the bench, or saw on the bench, those vibrations won’t make it to the floor (well, some still will, but it will be DRAMATICALLY reduced). You can put the fiberglass insulation and the plywood in a coat closet when not in use (rigid fiberglass is fairly dense stuff – don’t confuse it with the fluffy stuff you put in your attic). This also gives you the option to put some cleats on the plywood to keep your bench from sliding around and if the surface area doesn’t provide enough friction with the floor you can lay down some drawer liner. In the music world this is how we keep the drums or the bass amp from leaching into other studio rooms through the floor. Anyway, this is probably the biggest noise problem. Depending upon variables, it’s possible that the plywood could vibrate acting like an acoustic amplifier to your pounding on the bench. If this happens just drop a sandbag on it (needs to be sand because it has to be able to vibrate).

    As for the sound going through the air, you will NOT be able to STOP it. Instead take advantage of the fact that sound bounces off walls and those reflections make up a considerable amount of the sound we hear. Part of the sound you hear is the direct sound, and the rest is the reflective sound. You can’t control the direct sound, but you can control the reflective sound. By way of example, if I pick up my trumpet and play it in my living room (carpet and a couch, but nothing else absorptive) I just can’t hand the volume without ear plugs. However, I can go into the control room of my studio and blast crazy loud and I’m fine because there’s a lot of absorption in there. Without getting all crazy, basically you just want as much soft absorptive stuff as possible covering hard walls, floors, ceiling, windows. The more you can do, the better, but you have to be reasonable with the fact that you will live in this room as well. Carpet is a huge plus if you have it because that’s usually a quarter of the reflective surfaces. If you can hang heavy curtains rather that blinds on the windows that will help. It’s hard to do much more than that without things looking ugly. But, you can put some hooks along the top of a wall and hang a duvet only when you are working and that will help. Ideally, you want as much thickness as possible to the absorptive surfaces, but that is kind of unrealistic for a room that doubles as a living space. The thicker the absorption (all other things being equal) the lower the frequencies it can absorb. Luckily, woodworking doesn’t have a ton of low frequency energy.

    Now if this will be a room dedicated to woodworking, there’s LOTS you can do (depending upon how much you want to spend). And if you are willing to rip open some walls and stuff you can make it quieter than a mouse…..
    Last edited by chris carter; 10-15-2021 at 5:02 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua Lucas View Post
    It sounds to me like you want a Moravian bench.
    +1!

    Also search here for Moravian Bench threads. Ken Hatch is an enthusiast and has built several, of different sizes, and posted rather complete build threads.

    (Also, if bootstrapping yourself thru a bench build is daunting, Mike Siemsen's "The Naked Woodworker", that's naked as without tools, not without clothes (stupid cutesy title), starts with a couple home center buckets, takes you thru a used tool swap meet, and then builds a couple saw benches and finishes with a Nicholson style workbench. LAP has it for streaming and it may be available elsewhere. BTW- the Moravian bench would be better, lighter & knockdown, for an apartment, but the bootstrap techniques in the video could be adapted to the different design and might provide tips you find helpful.)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke Dupont View Post
    ... As far as space, I'm thinking the largest I should go with is around 18" x 36". ...
    At this size what Christopher Schwarz called a "Milkman's Workbench" might be a good choice. He made several blog posts while at PopWood, e.g:

    The Milkman’s Workbench in Use

    Also, Red Rose Productions has, at least once, produced a batch of these. (They look exquisite on his Instagram feed, but of course aren't cheap. Nor would shipping to Japan be inexpensive I imagine.)

    I've got to say my intuition is that the Moravian design, stretched to 4 or 5 feet, even at 18" deep, would be easier to work on and more satisfying. Of course, if that won't fit it won't fit.


    Quote Originally Posted by Luke Dupont View Post
    ... In particular, how would you limit the vibrations that the bench imparts to the floor? ...
    Search "vibration damping pads". The result I get are all US sources, but I see them for noise isolating air compressors, washing machines, and while I don't find it quickly I remember them for amateur telescope mounts too. They'd be easy to try to see if they do enough.


    Quote Originally Posted by Luke Dupont View Post
    ... 2. How are the legs attached? They seem to not be attached by all that much. These things don't rack? ...
    Oh, some of them rack plenty.

    I think the typical leg to top attachment is either Roubo style mortises or lag bolts thru the upper stretchers into the top. The latter seems to fit your situation better. I'd consider a clearance hole at front and a matching slot in the rear of the stretcher to allow for wood movement of the top.

    But see the Moravian bench build, article and threads here, for proven ideas.


    Quote Originally Posted by Luke Dupont View Post
    ... 3. How is the top made? How thick is the top typically? ...
    Usually they are laminated. Around here seems like a 1-1/2" thick counter top goes on sale every so often, which would save you ripping, joining, and laminating raw wood for the top. I'd worry that'd be too thin to work well with traditional holdfasts, but those holdfasts would be noisy and maybe not suitable anyway. I expect a 1" to 1-1/2" top would work fine with dogs and the various clamps designed to work w/dog holes, e.g. by Lee Valley or Festool.

  8. #8
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    Check out Blum Tools. http://blumtool.com/?page_id=50

    I needed a portable workbench and happened to see one of these on Craigslist. I was somewhat skeptical but the price was right so I bought it. I have the Original Bench Horse model, but they offer various other sizes. They’re surprisingly solid and stable (much more so than the lightweight Sjobergs, et al) and fold up within a minute or two. It’s not my main workbench and certainly not for everyone, but it serves me quite well.

  9. #9
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    Sorry, another thought...

    At the risk of causing overload, I remembered a simple bench designed by Jim McConnell (james_son_of_james) when he was working to outfit a new shop for a new school opening in his area. He has let his blog go inactive, but I found (one of?) his articles:

    The student bench takes shape

    If you dig around (April & March 2018 is where I see articles, but there may be others) you'll find more info on his (now) dormant blog.

  10. #10
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    This may not be helpful, but given the scale of proposed work, perhaps take a full Japanese approach, similar to this video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxvOMHoLRBY

    Either way, I have a 'wood is good' mallet and it (or any rubber deadblow) markedly reduce noise when chiseling.

    Good luck-you'll find a way. One can do much quality work with tooling and benches that are much less fancy than the interwebs say you need
    "You can observe a lot just by watching."
    --Yogi Berra

  11. #11
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    I was thinking Japanese approach also. I see David Basset and Christopher Charles have already gone there.

    How thick a piece of stock can you get to make your 18x36 top out of one piece? How much for an 18x36x10? Put four legs on it, make it about 16-20" tall, presto, coffee table by evening and workbench when you need it. I have looked at both Japanese and Roman style workholding a little bit, mostly out of curiousity; I think this might be a fertile field of inquiry to look into. If the total outside dimensions are 18x36x20 it will fit on any elevator I have ever ridden on.

    I don't like metal fasteners in wood. Even a timberframed house probably has the siding, the outer cladding nailed on, but wherever possible/ reasonable I do without metal fasteners in wood.

  12. #12
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    How the Japanese wood workers sit on the floor with their legs crossed all day I can’t imagine. Your reach is limited and that way of working requires pull planes. If you build a bench top and put it on the floor you could try that. If it’s not for you then add legs.
    I have worked on small Danish benches at school. They were double sided for two students which gave them more mass. They still vibrate and oscillate but are usable.
    Mass is your friend to keep work from moving. Good legs reduce vibration. Vertical legs carry vibration straight to the floor. Angled legs give a smaller bench a larger footprint for stability and some flex to perhaps absorb vibration.

    Vises were the most important design consideration for me, followed by bench length for my required projects.

    You seemingly only need a short bench but that demands mass and some depth for stability. I would make the top 3 feet wide and design it to be a double sided bench with different vises on each side. With 2 vises on one side and dog holes across the bench, long stock can be held across its width and slid down as needed. Make it as heavy as you can lift safely. The Moravian angled legs make sense for stability.

    So I see a heavy top at least 4’x3’ with two face vises one side and one tail vise the other side. Moravian legs with wedged stretchers.

    Make an attachment for wheels at one end of the top for moving.
    Last edited by William Fretwell; 10-16-2021 at 9:38 AM. Reason: Spelling!
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Fretwell View Post
    How the Japanese wood workers sit on the floor with their legs crossed all day I can’t imagine. Your reach is limited and that way of working requires pull planes. If you build a bench top and put it on the floor you could try that. If it’s not for you then add legs.
    I have worked on small Danish benches at school. They were double sided for two students which gave them more mass. They still vibrate and oscillate but are usable.
    Mass is your friend to keep work from moving. Good legs reduce vibration. Vertical legs carry vibration straight to the floor. Angled legs give a smaller bench a larger footprint for stability and some flex to perhaps absorb vibration.

    Vises were the most important design consideration for me, followed by bench length for my required projects.

    You seemingly only need a short bench but that demands mass and some depth for stability. I would make the top 3 feet wide and design it to be a double sided bench with different vises on each side. With 2 vises on one side and dog holes across the bench, long stock can be held across its width and slid down as needed. Make it as heavy as you can lift safely. The Moravian angled legs make sense for stability.

    So I see a heavy top at least 4’x3’ with two face vises one side and one tail vise the other side. Moravian legs with wedged stretchers.

    Make an attachment for wheels at one end of the top for moving.
    That's a really interesting design, and makes a ton of sense. I am really hesitant to give up the front vise though, as I intend to do a lot of small work (small boxes, toys, craft items, and carving maybe) more so than furniture. But I'm sure I'll want to build something large or long at some point.

    I'm already definitely going with wedged stretchers.

    One other hesitation with a Moravian style bench is the vise. I mean, I guess one can do what one wants, but they typically have a leg vise, whilst I was thinking more of a traditional front vise that is mounted higher. That will be better for detailed work. If I do go with a traditional vise on a Moravian, then I'm going to have to put the front vise (assuming I have one) on either the left or right of the leg, and at 3 feet long, I don't know if I even have room for that... The vise would wind up in the center, or it would take up too much room (pushing the leg too far away from the end) on the left. The leg vise is the only real option for a front vise on such a small bench I think.

    Of course, I guess I could always make or buy some sort of "clamp on" removable vise for the front and use a frog for holding boards while edge planing...

    With the Scandinavian style design however, I can easily put the legs on the far end, and the front vise just to the right of the left leg. Granted, I don't get the advantage of splayed legs which you mention, and that's a very good point I think.

    I'll have to mull over this for a while.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris carter View Post
    wine.jpg
    I have a small 48” x 15” roubo in my dining room. It is doing more important stuff than woodworking, but I did do some work on it and it does work quite well. At 36” long, I dunno, that’s pushing it. That said, if 36” x 18” is your goal, then everything at that size is portable without even having to be knocked down (I got that cherry/ash roubo out of my basement and up two half flights of stairs on my own WITH a busted elbow).

    If you peruse youtube you’ll find all manner of ingenious super compact workbench ideas – provided you are not married to an historical looking bench. Jay Bates just released a video today of a workbench based upon in the idea of a super sawhorse that I think would be very functional, and doesn’t look too bad either: https://youtu.be/ZlGSANE_9Yk But if you search small workbench and things like that, you’ll find all manner of ideas as a jumping off point.

    The tricky thing with any small bench of the size you want will be mass. You’ll need to throw a big sandbag or dumbells, etc. on the shelf to keep it from moving. Also, 18” wide can make things possibly a little tippy planing from front the back on the bench without splayed legs.

    Another option would be a low workbench. You could go super traditional with a “Roman” staked style bench or there are plenty of more updated styles you can find on youtube if you search low work bench. Many of them incorporate regular vises and work similar to an upright bench, just low. A staked style one tends to use a very different method of workholding utilizing a system of pegs and wedges that is very functional, but can sometimes be a little tricky cutting complicated joinery (they do use holdfasts though). A low bench can double as a coffee table in front of the couch allowing your workbench to disappear. But the big advantage of a low bench is that you sit on it so you won’t have any issues with the bench moving from being light in weight. But it IS kind of a different way of working and if you have any kind of back issues (like I have) then long stints can start to get uncomfortable. That said, when I use my low staked bench it IS pretty fun.

    As for sound……

    If you have a neighbor below you then you will need to decouple the bench from the floor with what’s called a floating floor. I own a recording studio and spend my day job making records so suffice to say, I know a wee bit about this stuff. Probably the cheapest and easiest solution is to get a single sheet of rigid fiberglass, like Owens Corning 703 or an equivalent (Knauf makes the same stuff). Get a 2” thick piece. These come in sheets that are 48”x24” so you will only need one since that’s bigger than your bench (you can cut this stuff down with a butcher knife or any thin and sharp and long enough blade). You want to wrap it in something so you don’t get fiberglass on you anytime you touch it. You can wrap it in fabric and just tape the fabric on the underside, some companies make pre-made fabric sleeves for them. You could also just use a black garbage bag in a pinch. Anyway, then you’ll need a THICK piece of plywood or MDF 48x24. Thicker the better – ¾” would be acceptable. Put that on top of your rigid fiberglass. Then put the bench on top of the whole thing. This will provide a stable platform for the bench and will do a VERY good job of decoupling it from the floor without the bench bouncing up and down. So when you pound on the bench, or saw on the bench, those vibrations won’t make it to the floor (well, some still will, but it will be DRAMATICALLY reduced). You can put the fiberglass insulation and the plywood in a coat closet when not in use (rigid fiberglass is fairly dense stuff – don’t confuse it with the fluffy stuff you put in your attic). This also gives you the option to put some cleats on the plywood to keep your bench from sliding around and if the surface area doesn’t provide enough friction with the floor you can lay down some drawer liner. In the music world this is how we keep the drums or the bass amp from leaching into other studio rooms through the floor. Anyway, this is probably the biggest noise problem. Depending upon variables, it’s possible that the plywood could vibrate acting like an acoustic amplifier to your pounding on the bench. If this happens just drop a sandbag on it (needs to be sand because it has to be able to vibrate).

    As for the sound going through the air, you will NOT be able to STOP it. Instead take advantage of the fact that sound bounces off walls and those reflections make up a considerable amount of the sound we hear. Part of the sound you hear is the direct sound, and the rest is the reflective sound. You can’t control the direct sound, but you can control the reflective sound. By way of example, if I pick up my trumpet and play it in my living room (carpet and a couch, but nothing else absorptive) I just can’t hand the volume without ear plugs. However, I can go into the control room of my studio and blast crazy loud and I’m fine because there’s a lot of absorption in there. Without getting all crazy, basically you just want as much soft absorptive stuff as possible covering hard walls, floors, ceiling, windows. The more you can do, the better, but you have to be reasonable with the fact that you will live in this room as well. Carpet is a huge plus if you have it because that’s usually a quarter of the reflective surfaces. If you can hang heavy curtains rather that blinds on the windows that will help. It’s hard to do much more than that without things looking ugly. But, you can put some hooks along the top of a wall and hang a duvet only when you are working and that will help. Ideally, you want as much thickness as possible to the absorptive surfaces, but that is kind of unrealistic for a room that doubles as a living space. The thicker the absorption (all other things being equal) the lower the frequencies it can absorb. Luckily, woodworking doesn’t have a ton of low frequency energy.

    Now if this will be a room dedicated to woodworking, there’s LOTS you can do (depending upon how much you want to spend). And if you are willing to rip open some walls and stuff you can make it quieter than a mouse…..

    Great information here! The room doubles as my office and personal room / space.

    As for the fiberglass + MDF or Plywood base, does that need to be large (ie the same footprint as my bench) or does it only need to be as big as the feet of my bench themselves?

    An additional thing that I found are half sphere rubber pieces that can be glued onto the feet for added isolation, and they also just so happen to be very grippy and keep the bench from moving (I just got some of these and tried on my little Japanese planing board). I think these are great for stopping vibrations from sawing and the like, but maybe not quite enough for chisel work -- at least not chopping straight down. They do seem to make a noticeable difference however! I think this combined with your fiberglass/mdf floor should make for pretty solid sound isolation.

    I have 3 windows in a fairly small room, and one of them is very large, but I don't use it and keep the shutters closed. I think I'll buy some thick curtains, maybe with sound proof liners as well, and also plug up the large unused / shuttered window with cardboard. I've been wanting to do this anyway as my room right on top of the corner of two rather noisy roads.

    I should also soundproof my door a little. There are huge gaps all around it and I'm sure it's hollow -- I can easily hear people in the living room and vise versa. I'll start with just putting some... I don't know what it's called, but foam gap filling tape around the door. It doesn't need to be perfectly quiet, but I do want to reduce the sound so my wife doesn't get annoyed. She's fairly tolerant, but still.

    I have the freedom to decorate my room as I like. Trying to think of what sort of soft things I can put on my wall. Vintage wool blankets? Can't mount anything too heavy as I don't want to drill holes but I'm sure there's something interesting I could do.

  15. #15
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    As for the Japanese vs Western bench thing, I actually already use a Japanese planing board and primarily Japanese tools.

    However, I want to also be able to use western planes and saws, and those do not work with Japanese planing boards, as there's nothing to keep the board in place unless you're sitting on it (which you don't always want to be). They also lack the ability to mount a good vise.

    Currently I use a gennou and Japanese, metal hooped chisels, so I think wood handled chisels and a wood is good mallet will be an improvement soundwise. I'll try this!

    The low roman style / coffee table height benches are also something that I've tried in the past. I made a wide one, about 12-13" wide, and it proved to be very uncomfortable as it was too wide to straddle between my legs comfortably, and the splayed legs of narrower designs disallow side clamping boards. Japanese planing boards are superior and take up less space, giving a much better "bang for your buck" space wise I feel. Perhaps I shouldn't dismiss them entirely though: if I had made not one but two, and gone with a narrower style, I might have found them to be really nice.

    For these reasons, I've decided a bench is just all around best.

    I'm currently debating going with 18x36 or 18x48. I could fit 48" long, I think, in my current place, but it I would be more limited in where I can put it, and in many places I wouldn't be able to fit and use a tail vise. If I move, too, I don't know how much space I'll have to work with in the future. I also need to consider that I need room to maneuver around the bench if I am going to use, say, a tail vise.

    I checked out the hardware store today and did find quite a bit of useful stuff, including some not too expensive laminated table tops that would work. I guess I could buy two of them and laminate them together (flats together) to make a 2" or even 3" thick top out of 2 or 3 1" tops.

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