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Thread: Workbenches and options for Tool Holding?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Tokyo, Japan

    Workbenches and options for Tool Holding?

    I'm not sure the best terms here. This subject is covered only in passing in most conversation and even historical documents about woodworking, so I wanted to get a more detailed take on it.

    How do you store and mount tools that you want handy on your bench, provided you don't have a tool cabinet?

    Chisels, marking gauges, and squares, etc. I know are often attached to the back of the bench on a simple rack. That's easy enough.

    Saws are... attached how and where?

    Braces and bits?

    Planes, I think, are usually kept at the back of the bench or on the tool well, or a drawer or rack something below the bench?

    Oilstones...? Maybe in a drawer attached to the under side? Or in a tool box?



    I'm trying to figure out the best options for all of these on a small Continental / Sloyd style bench. The Sloyd style benches used in schools seem to often have a very tall backboard, allowing tools to be mounted on both the front and back.
    I think I might try this out, but I'm not sold on it yet and want to consider other options. Likely, I will have both a low (flush with the top) backboard and a higher Sloyd style one, try them both, and see what I like.

    I will have at most one drawer under the bench. Between the stretchers, I may put planks to create a low shelf or may even mount a simple tool chest, but besides that, I am trying to decide where to place tools that I want at hand...

    Namely, I'm not sure where or how to hang or put my saw (one or two that I use the most), oilstones, mallet, and brace, which I would like to keep handy.

    I'm also curious for those of you who have a single drawer under your bench: what do you put there? I'm guessing marking tools, bits, and maybe oilstones?

    In the past, I never put much thought to where to store tools and how to keep them handy, and this basically lead to my bench and floor in a constant state of clutter, and constant searching for where I left this or that thing. So, I'm trying to put some actual thought into it this time!
    Last edited by Luke Dupont; 11-25-2021 at 4:49 AM.

  2. #2
    There's a rapidly reached limit to what can be stored on or in the bench. I have a shelf for power tools between the trestle legs and a covered tool well for a bench hook, pinch gauge and a few infrequently used tools- I found the uncovered well just filled up with crap and was an impediment. A rack on the back of the bench would get in the way at times. I have a small cabinet hung above the bench for planes, scrapers, measuring tools and knives, a wall mounted tool board nearby and several toolboxes on carts. Bottom line, build a tool cabinet.

  3. I like to have a second bench or table opposite the workspace. All the tools for the active project are there right behind me, ready at hand but not in the way. ( as long as I remember to put them back there and not next to the workpiece!).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2021
    Spartanburg South Carolina
    The amount of times I need the entire surface of the bench width and more for making a door or window frame I wouldn't like anything projecting above the bench height. As mush as people don't like a tool well it is convenient to knock tools into when I need the flat top. I am thinking that I will make a nice tool cabinet to go on the wall right behind me. Still need to work out if there will be a base cabinet and a counter top that "stuff" will collect on. I may opt to avoid that catch all space.

  5. #5
    My goal is a cart on wheels with three custom toolboxes for hand tools. The top box would have a lid that opens to display chisels, plane. Boxes on shelves below would have drawers. Alas, it only exists in my head.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Perth, Australia
    Luke, the issue with asking these questions is that tool storage is such a personal matter. What you get are examples of the solutions some here have found.

    I like tools on a wall for easy access. This works well in a build. My tool well is not attached to the bench but the wall, where it is out of the way, but still close enough to keep tools in current use ...

    I recently built a tool cabinet under the bench. This was more about preparing for a move in a few years, providing a reason to prioritise the tools I want to keep. It's time to thin the herd ...

    Some tools deserve a cabinet each. Saws ...

    ... and so on ...

    Regards from Perth


  7. #7
    I suggest that you research guitarmaking (luthier) benches. They are compact and usually hold most of the tools that a luther needs to build a guitar.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Peoria, IL
    Tool placement is based on personal preferences and work flow. Some tools I have, I use about once a month. No need to have them on the back of the bench. In fact I store nothing in or on the bench. The tray is there to handle tools being used in each process.

  9. #9
    In my multi-purpose basement there is not an available wall near the bench and the bulk of my tools are a good half-dozen paces away and through a door. So I keep all of my primary stuff directly on the bench.

    Bench planes go below the bench on the shelf.

    I have a deep tool tray at one end of my bench. I put it there because I use both sides of my bench and it also doesn’t catch much debris there; it’s the most “out of the way” location. It stores things like measuring and marking tools, mallet and plane hammer, dogs, scrap of leather, knife, awl, and anything else smallish that I bring to the bench, like bits or an egg-beater, router plane, spokeshaves, etc. It has slots for my bench chisels, a combo square, and two slots to accommodate things like large chisels or backsaws. My carcass saw sits there permanently and other stuff goes in them when needed, but I normally keep that second slot free so that I can put really long boards on my bench (the tray is deep enough that objects don’t reach the height of the benchtop.

    On the backside of that tool tray are pegs that hold my brush, rip and crosscut hand saws, ¼” and ½” doe’s feet, and a strop.

    Additionally, since this is a split top roubo I have a gap stop and I put two slots in it toward the end vise end of my bench (the only vise on the bench). It gets used occasionally when doing a ton of work on the vise and have things that are too big to fit in dog holes. I dislike just piling up tools out of fear I of knocking them onto the floor and I just generally dislike messiness as it makes me unproductive. These slots don’t get used every day, but when they are used I love them. I wanted them bad enough that when I was thinking about making a mono-top Roubo I was planning on just mortising those slots all the way through the bench top.

    I have a Nicholson-esque apron (best feature ever!) and I store my holdfasts and a pair of pegs in the holes near the legs.

    All of my other tools are fairly far away due to the layout of the basement and the other stuff we have in there with the exception of my bench hook and shooting board which are close by, just not on the bench. If I didn’t have that DeWalt thickness planer under my bench they would live there. The thickness planers lives there because it’s pretty much the only power tool I use and it adds about 80lbs of mass.

  10. #10
    Luke - I just saw a very ingenious small toolbox someone built to take his hand tools to job sites. If you belong do FB, check out the group "Workbench builders" and look for a post by Jason Currin. His box looks like a great option for tool storage in a limited space. Here's a picture but you have to see all the photos to see how inventive and useful it is.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2021
    Spartanburg South Carolina
    That looks to be a classic "A place for everything and everything in its place" I wish I was there but I am not. Very nice!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2021
    Spartanburg South Carolina
    But I want to take my bench too!

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Clausen View Post
    But I want to take my bench too!
    You CAN take the bench with you!

    Low staked portable workbench. Goes together and comes apart in 30 seconds and is pretty easy to carry.

    The tool tote that goes with it.

  14. #14
    Very interesting topic, especially regarding the Scandi bench.
    I too like my tools behind me.
    Having got used to my normal bench, I find the Scandi's third leg makes the tools a mile away, compared to what I am used to.
    I've even used the fridges behind me for bracing against, whilst electron powered routing, so kinda see that as a feature.
    This might all change, as the dogs seem to have claimed that spot, and I wouldn't want them under tools.

    Not sure what I'm going to do when I finally get back to finishing it, as this will be strictly for woodworking.
    Things are tight for space, so it will be very easily mobile like my other bench.
    Bit damp in my workshop to be having ply, which can go moldy, that would be an easy fix.
    Not wanting a tool cabinet like Cosman's mobile tool cabinet, which could go walkies in the wild west.
    Guess I'll have to stick with the old beer fridges, fancy tools, lesser fancy tools, and sharpening station...might be a stove going after that for something,
    not sure yet, likely mobile router table, wee metalwork bench. or even a chop saw if I ever got one.

    Seems a lot of things could be put there which might be a handy height for hand tools.

    Not sure if you studied other folks who have similar benches like Frank Klausz, Tage Frid, Dale Nish?
    Maybe Wallace (Mr Sawdust) had some good ideas too, only seen that video today.
    Another two folks who come to mind is KillenWOOD, and Brian Holcombe,
    Yannick Chastang I think I recall having a Scandi bench too, pity his animal glue video is gone, very good watch it was.
    There might be some old blogs or whatever which might be worth seeing if exists.

    Can't think of many who have or have made this bench, two on a UK forum seem to have them against the wall.
    Another Luthier Todd Stock has one which I think sold it for me.

    You could also google them, plenty of searching one could do if searching using keywords like
    Continental workbench, Diefenbach workbench, Hyvelbänk , Høvelbenk along with the names above, could give some ideas.
    Sorry I can't do any better than that for ya.
    Last edited by Tom Trees; 11-25-2021 at 4:55 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Fairbanks AK
    My guidance is start making stuff, a birdhouse, whatever. As you start making stuff, where the tools should be in the space you have will come to you.

    I have a saw till similar to (but not nearly as nice as) Derek's. The shelf under my small bench top is loadded up with bench planes, a set of auger bits and a few jigs. I did build a tool cabinet for frequently used stuff like lay out tools, here:

    Doesn't mean you need one in your shop, but this solved a LOT of problems for me. I am planning to put a fairly heavy duty shelving unit on the wall under my saw till. So far it will hold my joinery planes, cut nail collection, I need a home for my brace...I also will be making some kind of tool chest for infrequently used tools, think densely poacked, take up less space. I am leaning towards the Chris Schwarz Anarchist tool chest style, but I need to size it hold my adzes, so maybe a little bit wider than as drawn in the book.

    My experience at my place, and what I infer from reading here, is tool storage is an ongoing process. You can either park in it and be paralyzed by the analyzing, or just build stiff and figure it out as you go.

    My most rewarding upgrade at my first shop reorganization was coming up with a dedicated (albeit small) sharpening station. When I was first getting started the bench top was the sharpening station, so every time I needed to sharpen something I had to clear all the work pieces off, I have a sacrificial piece of plywood (with cleats around the edges so it doesn't slide around) that fits the bare bench top, and then all the swarf and oil and soapy water don't get all over the bench top, sharpen, take it all back apart, get my work pieces back out. It was very time consuming. My newish dedicated sharpening station is 120 degrees and 1.5 steps from the tommy bar on my face vise, very handy and I use it a lot because it is easy.

    Good luck and best wishes.

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