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Thread: Review this workbench before I start building

  1. #1
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    Review this workbench before I start building

    I've got a big pile of southern yellow pine acclimating in my garage and I've been doodling plans for workbenches for over a year. I like the Shaker style and need the storage space, but I also learned a lot from Christopher Schwarz's Workbenches book. Hence the hybridization of Shaker with Roubo.

    Please take a look and give me suggestions. There's a SketchUp model here which you can download if you have SketchUp. (If you don't, I recommend it - tons of fun.)

    I have the hardware for the vises on hand and I took the measurements directly from them. The top and the legs will be laminated from construction SYP which will be planed down to 1.25" . The sheet stock will be 3/4" plywood. The trim is more SYP planed down to 1". Pocket hole screws and glue will be used where there are butt joints. The drawers in the model are dummies. They will be put in later as three individual units.

    The top is 84" x 30" and 34.75" high.

    I want a seriously solid workbench which will last approximately forever. Let me know what ideas you have. The vises and some other SketchUp components are available in detailed and simplified versions in the 3D warehouse here.
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    Last edited by John Schreiber; 05-24-2008 at 5:01 PM. Reason: forgot the attachments.
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  2. #2
    i would put another support further away from the vise in case you have big pieces.

  3. #3
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    I'm pretty sure that support slides left to right. If it doesn't, you probably want it to. I would think about a track or slot to capture the bottom of the support. JMHO.
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  4. #4
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    I like the overall design of this one. I may have to use your idea since I now have decent wood for my very 1st ww'ing bench after 30 years of doing this hobby....I finally decided I needed a real bench. Thanks for starting this thread with ideas and design.
    Thanks & Happy Wood Chips,
    Dennis -
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  5. #5
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    The support, a "sliding board jack," does slide back and forth on the bench. The usual way is with a wider board, a channel in the bottom of the bench and a ridge along a stretcher. I thought I'd try it with "miter T-track" and "miter-bar T-track" which should slide smoothly.

    There is a support to keep the jack from swinging in toward the bench and I don't think it will need something to keep it from swinging outward. If I'm wrong, I could do something with magnets in the jack and a strip of iron along the bottom of the bench.

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  6. #6
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    So you'd have to screw the miter bar to the board jack into end grain? I'm wondering if that isn't going to loosen up over time. I was briefly considering doing a smaller scale version of a board jack on my bench and was thinking about doing a loose fitting sliding dovetail with an open pocket at one end to allow removal.
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  7. #7
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    IMO, for a workbench that will last "forever", SYP is the wrong wood to use for the top. I'd think you want something harder to resist the abuse of being used.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Shepard View Post
    So you'd have to screw the miter bar to the board jack into end grain? I'm wondering if that isn't going to loosen up over time. I was briefly considering doing a smaller scale version of a board jack on my bench and was thinking about doing a loose fitting sliding dovetail with an open pocket at one end to allow removal.
    Easily dealt with by inserting some dowels into blind holes from the back to provide the proper grain direction to hold the screws.
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  9. #9
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    Holdfasts

    John,

    If you think you would ever use holdfasts, you need to allow enough free space below the bench top for the holdfast shafts. If you don't think you'll use them, you should probably revisit that thought. Holdfasts are some of the most useful of all bench accessories. They are great for securing work to the bench whether you're a hand tool user of prefer power tools.

    My $.02. Nice design.

    Hank

  10. #10
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    You may find the you need more dog holes later. I would certainly put 2 rows (one on each side) of dogs holes for your shoulder vise.
    Dewey
    Dewey

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hank Knight View Post
    Holdfasts are some of the most useful of all bench accessories.
    Holdfasts sound like a great idea, but the only ones I've seen didn't work reliably. I understand hand forged ones are available which are good though.

    If I use a holdfast in a hole, does that ruin the hole for use with dogs?

    How much room under the bench does the holdfast take? The front dog holes are centered 3 1/2 from the edge and the drawers are 5" from the front edge. Would a holdfast jammed in place, stick out far to the side of the hole?

    I could easily put some dedicated holdfast holes along the back and in the overhangs on the sides.
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  12. #12
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    John,

    Looks like you will have one fantastic bench when you are done.

    I have a question about the bottoms of your tool trays. It looks like they are meant to slide from side to side.

    Is that to help clean out the saw dust? Will the sawdust end up in the top drawers?

    If the sides (end grain ends) of the tool trays are sloped (say 45 deg.), it is rather easy to just sweep the dust out.

    Can't wait to see your progress.
    rick
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  13. #13
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    John, the Gramercy hold-fasts from toolsforworkingwood.com are excellent. I agree that they are incredibly useful, even for non-Neander work. Not long ago I used them, for example, to hold a cabinet part down securely to rabbit the edge with a router. On the same project I used them to secure both the cabinet box side and my shelf hole jig to the bench so I could use the plunge router to do the holes. And for many Neander things...they are the bee's knees! I've had no issues with any dog hole damage using them...it doesn't take much pressure to "hold fast", and the mild steel gives a bit instead of deforming the maple.
    Last edited by Chris Padilla; 05-29-2008 at 4:11 PM.
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  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by John Schreiber View Post
    The support, a "sliding board jack," does slide back and forth on the bench. The usual way is with a wider board, a channel in the bottom of the bench and a ridge along a stretcher. I thought I'd try it with "miter T-track" and "miter-bar T-track" which should slide smoothly.

    There is a support to keep the jack from swinging in toward the bench and I don't think it will need something to keep it from swinging outward. If I'm wrong, I could do something with magnets in the jack and a strip of iron along the bottom of the bench.


    If you are looking for a more substantial 'track' you can always use Uni-Strut ( electrical aisles at BigBoxes ) They also have sliding fittings you could use with some creativity to 'lock' it into place. A matching one at the foot would also work.

    And if you skipped the top drawer or two, the holdfasts would work fine.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by rick fulton View Post
    . . . . I have a question about the bottoms of your tool trays. It looks like they are meant to slide from side to side.

    Is that to help clean out the saw dust? Will the sawdust end up in the top drawers?
    Thanks for pointing that out Rick, I hadn't thought it all the way through. I had thought that being able to slide the bottoms of the tool tray out of the way would have two benefits. First, I would have a lot of flexibility in clamping from the middle of the bench to either the wide or narrow side. But as you point out, what I saw as a 2nd advantage, would lead to a mess in the top drawer instead of on the floor.

    I'll have to think about it. I sure appreciate having all these wise heads looking over my shoulder.
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