View Full Version : Workbench Tradeoffs
02-20-2001, 03:29 PM
I am new woodworker trying to appreciate the craft from an historical perspective. To that end, I am attempting to develop an appreciation, if not mastery, of classic hand tools. I am currently preparing stock with a jointer hand plane. I know one of the problems I have encountered is that my hobbyist workbench is totally inadequate, therefore I wish to upgrade to a workbench appropriate for my objective. The research I have conducted lead me to two bench types (although there may be others): Jointers Bench and Cabinet Makers Bench.
Please share with me your views on these alternatives. Specific comments regarding: bench weights, surface size, dog hole types (square vs. round), dog hole pattern (single vs. double row), vices and construction material (beech, birch, etc.)will be especially welcome.
If this has been a recent topic for discussion, please accept my apology and direct me to where I might find this forum discussion.
02-20-2001, 06:53 PM
This is a new question, thanks.
I don't think there is a big difference in any of the things on your list from the perspective of do the work you want. Most of the differences are personal choice and maybe what you have learned on.
There is an advantage in hard maple or beech, as both of these are very hard woods and will allow the bench to withstand lots of use over the years. A dual row of dogs can be nice for holding things that are not square like circles. Square vs round dogs is more of an issue of how the bench is constructed. You can drill a round hole easy. You can cut dado's and glue up for the square holes.
The big issues for me is what do you want to make, how big is your shop, how big is the stock you want to handle? Do you need or want to use the base for storage?
There are lots of plans for building a good bench, And it will cost you lots less than buying one of the European benches.
02-21-2001, 01:21 AM
Can you explain why you feel it would be cheaper?
Interesting.. I just had a woodworking class and several of the teachers said that I should buy one instead of making one. They said in the long run, it would be cheaper to just buy one.
02-21-2001, 08:00 AM
I've approached the problem from a different perspective. I have what they call a "build-up table" as opposed to an actual "work bench."
The top measures out at 4X8 and is constructed of two sheets of MDF covered by a single sheet of maple plywood, with a hardwood edgeband. The top is attached to a frame work of 2X4's and the whole thing is 26" off the floor. A low, large table like this can be a big advantage. You'll find this type in 4 out of 5 production shops. Perfect for large and small projects alike.
I've found that a single row of dog holes is sufficient for what I do. I've got a nice big vise stuck on one end.
All this to say that there are good alternatives to dropping a $1000 or more on a prefab bench.
02-21-2001, 01:06 PM
The price for a workbench of the type you are talking about is between 1 to 2,000. You can buy the bench vise hardware here
search for vise and you will find the hardware for lots of different types of classic wood vise setups you will spend between 100 and 150 for the hardware
You can buy Hard maple for less than 8.00 a board foot for the 8/4 stock you should use and the process of making the bench will give you lots of experience. Plans are about 10.00
You would be able to make a very nice 6 foot bench for between 25 and 30 bd ft of maple so the costs are
Two bench hardware 250
Total 500. For a bench like this the prices I have seen are about 1500.
That is my input, but then again I have been thinking of doing this for 10 years. What I use now is a 7' x 3' table that it the same hight of my TS. It was made with 1 1/8 subfloor ply topped with 1/4 hardboard, simple woodworking vise on one end and bench dogs drilled on the 7' side. It is a work bench and assembly table and lots of other things. I can use it to hold the end of a 4x8 sheet of ply as I send it into the saw for ripping ect.
When I redo my shop also a continuing process I want to set up a bench for hand tools and use the table for the other tasks... but that will be a while.
02-24-2001, 02:20 AM
Dont forget that Grizzley is selling bench tops at rather reasonable prices. I think that they were maple too.