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Thread: Sloyd Bench Build: An Excellent Apartment Workbench

  1. #1
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    Sloyd Bench Build: An Excellent Apartment Workbench

    I (almost) finished building my workbench! This is a design that I hardly see anywhere, but struck me as perfect for my small apartment. It is based on a "Sloyd" style workbench:

    sloyd-workbench.jpg

    My bench is an approximation, and certainly not a replica. It's smaller, at just over 3 feet by 1.5 feet, and built of cheap laminated pine and whitewood (the latter, I do *not* recommend, but whatever it works for a utilitarian bench that will be replaced at some point in the future. It's all I had available in the right dimensions for the leg assembly at the local home center):

    luke-bench-dark.jpg

    luke-bench-bright.jpg

    I will likely innovate a bit by adding a small drawer underneath the top of the work bench (where you see the single dog sticking out), and also a Japanese toolbox with a sliding lid that will sit inbetween, and flush with the stretchers, where there's currently a shelf. This will keep all of my tools out of the way and make efficient use of space and avoid clutter (which is super important when the time is limited, and your workshop is also part of your living space. Can't have tools laying around everywhere and preventing you from sweeping up wood chips and shavings, or starting / stopping work)

    The backboard is great for keeping tools up and out of the way. I'll add racks on the back as well to hold a few more tools and bench hooks and the like.

    I'm loving the design. The whole thing is quite portable; the top just sits onto the leg assembly with pegs and corresponding holes, so it just lifts off. The leg assembly uses tusked mortise and tenons which can be easily removed and disassembled, but when the wedges are driven in, the whole thing is extremely solid and there's zero rack.

    This is the first bench I've built or used with square dogs and a tail vice, and somewhat to my surprise, I'm loving those features.

    Also somewhat to my surprise, I find very little need for the legs to be flush with the face of the bench, especially with that little tail vise being so close. Just stick a board in the tail vise for support, or use a clamp if it's a really wide piece. Most of the pieces I edge plane are narrow enough to sit on the top of the bench even, though. The fact that the legs aren't flush is actually kind of handy on such a small bench, as, occasionally, I need to step on the foot of the bench to keep it from moving. Yet, I needed a light bench as I will be moving around from place to place and don't have the luxury of a building a 400lb Roubo.

    Rubber pads under the feet can be used to reduce vibrations transmitted to the floor, and also keep the bench from moving even better (though, it typically doesn't move when planing).

    If I ever need to use the full width of the bench, I can either just remove the backboard (just a few screws), or extend the width with some beams in the vise, or work on the floor in a Japanese manner, which I am quite accustomed to already. Most of the work I do is rather small though, so this is not a big concern for me.

    I've already used this quite extensively and am loving the design for my workflow and needs. It's really important to have tools handy while avoiding clutter, but I can't go drilling holes in the walls, nor do I have room, really, for a tool cabinet. This bench will be able to hold all of my tools, keep them within my reach, and also keep any dangerous tools out of the reach of children (who generally don't have access to my room, but you never know). Keeping the benchtop and the floor free of tools means that I can start and stop working, and sweep and clean up at any time very quickly, which is absolutely essential when your workshop is also part of your home office / living space, and you're a new dad with very limited time -- maybe just enough time to pop over and cut a joint or plane a single board before your attention is needed elsewhere again. This bench is ideal for that.

    There are many things that I will improve on when/if I build a second bench -- probably opting for a very similar cabinet maker's bench design instead, with traditional wooden vises sunk into a slightly thinner top, with a thicker strip for the dogs and for chopping in the front. There were also some things I didn't quite have or know of a good way of attaching, and if you examine the bench from all sides, you'll see quite a bit of rough or incomplete work still. And, I sort of wish I had sprung for better wood. But, hey, it's solid, ergonomic, not too bad looking, and stable, and most importantly, built and functional, so good enough for now! Not too bad for a new dad with hardly any free time on his hands, I guess.
    Last edited by Luke Dupont; 01-13-2022 at 12:24 AM.

  2. #2
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    Nice. My first bench is 24x48 inch top. Someday when I have more room the old/little bench will become my sharpening station.

  3. #3
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    Very nice bench with efficient use of space Luke.

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

  4. #4
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    Very nice. Thanks for sharing with us.
    Take me to the hotel - Baggage gone, oh well . . .

  5. #5
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    Looks great! I work on a similar style bench, except I have a storage system underneath instead if a back rack.

    IMG_20210921_214059658.jpg

    I like the design so far. I built a 36" tall x 30" wide book case on it recently. And while at times a little more width would have been nice, it wasn't really a limitation.

    The advantage of a small bench is it forces you not to clutter it up. Everything needs to be put away or in the tool try to avoid being knocked of the bench.
    Always put the crappy side against the wall

  6. #6
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    Great bench, just says use me. The open look and easy to grab essentials are very efficient. The back board is a better addition than a tool well for a short bench. I see you hang your mallet in the same place as the original!
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  7. #7
    I like it!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Buresh View Post
    Looks great! I work on a similar style bench, except I have a storage system underneath instead if a back rack.

    IMG_20210921_214059658.jpg

    I like the design so far. I built a 36" tall x 30" wide book case on it recently. And while at times a little more width would have been nice, it wasn't really a limitation.

    The advantage of a small bench is it forces you not to clutter it up. Everything needs to be put away or in the tool try to avoid being knocked of the bench.
    I like it! Very similar indeed.

    I actually considered that design also. I will have a toolbox that sits inbetween the stretchers, but that's nowhere near as accessible as drawers.

    It looks like you had a front vise installed as well, but removed it?


    Quote Originally Posted by William Fretwell View Post
    Great bench, just says use me. The open look and easy to grab essentials are very efficient. The back board is a better addition than a tool well for a short bench. I see you hang your mallet in the same place as the original!

    Thanks! "Just says use me" is exactly what I was going for! Like I said, my free time is sporadic and limited so I need to be able to just pop on over to the bench, do a bit of work when I have time for it, and clean up, without long lead and exit times preparing or cleaning or digging out tools. So, I need my bench to welcome me with open arms and tools ready to go

  9. #9
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    Luke, nice compact bench, very useful. Not sure if you had seen the Lee Valley apartment bench plansÖIíve seen one of the original versions in the wild and itís a cool set up.

    https://www.leevalley.com/en-us/shop...n?item=05L2501

    Take care,
    Kevin

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Adams View Post
    Luke, nice compact bench, very useful. Not sure if you had seen the Lee Valley apartment bench plans…I’ve seen one of the original versions in the wild and it’s a cool set up.

    https://www.leevalley.com/en-us/shop...n?item=05L2501

    Take care,
    Kevin
    Ah yes, I've seen that and like it a lot.
    Maybe one day! I'm not sure that I have the time or the skill or money to build such a bench just yet. Well, I'm sure I could -- I probably have the skills despite not having done some of the more complex stuff before like paneled construction, but it might take me a year or two to complete, lol
    I have to be careful though. If I look at it too much, I'll have to build one.

  11. #11
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    That’s a nicely executed and beautiful bench. My first “apartment” bench was ĺ ply supported by 2x2 legs over the washer/dryer in a closet on the back porch, lol.
    Well done!
    Please help support the Creek.


    My wife asked me to take her to one of those restaurants where they make the food right in front of you. So, I took her to Subway and thatís how the fight started.

  12. #12
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    Here is a fancy bench for an apartment:

    Melhuish Work Bench.jpg

    Melhuish Work Bench & tool Cabinet.png

    A little bit above my budget back then and now.

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

  13. #13
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    Very cool, Jim, I was not familiar with the name Melhuish. If I were going to build the LV plan, I would use solid wood vs plywood for the look. Canít imagine using mahogany, but then again I had a friend in Seattle who had mahogany as siding on his 100+ year home!

    Thanks.
    Kevin

  14. #14
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    A little about mahogany:

    Mahogany is a fine-grained wood with reddish brown color. It is highly durable and can resist swelling, shrinking and warping. Mahogany is widely used in boat building but is not as durable as teak. It's used for boat building, hull construction, interior and decks.
    It is also still sold in shiplapped form for siding.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 01-14-2022 at 4:31 PM.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke Dupont View Post
    I like it! Very similar indeed.

    I actually considered that design also. I will have a toolbox that sits inbetween the stretchers, but that's nowhere near as accessible as drawers.

    It looks like you had a front vise installed as well, but removed it?





    Thanks! "Just says use me" is exactly what I was going for! Like I said, my free time is sporadic and limited so I need to be able to just pop on over to the bench, do a bit of work when I have time for it, and clean up, without long lead and exit times preparing or cleaning or digging out tools. So, I need my bench to welcome me with open arms and tools ready to go
    Actually when I bought it it only came with one vise. But the tail vise is the same as the face, so it can be unscrewed and moved. Honestly I have never moved the tail vise. I guess that's one advantage of being able to work 360 around the bench.
    Always put the crappy side against the wall

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