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 Post subject: Workbench designs
PostPosted: 07 Jan 2018, 16:36 
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Hi All

Currently in the phase of designing some workbenches that I plan to build. After a little research, a couple of youtube videos and some guesswork, I've got to the stage where I've given the ideas some life using Sketchup and happy that I can't do much more with them. Before I start buying the stock and equipment to build, I thought it would be a good idea to get some constructive criticism from people with more experience than myself on my design. I've designed 3 because each of the benches will serve a slightly different purpose. I've listed the benches below with what I intend to use material wise, what I'm going to do with them. I've listed questions in relation to the specific and the my more general questions are at the end.

Fixed wall mounted workbench aka Bertha - This will be replacing an existing bench and as such will be the last one I build. It's the biggest bench and I'm planning to use it for mostly engineering and metal work. Also going to be putting my record 112 that I'm currently restoring on to it which comfortably weighs 30kg.
The top is going to be 2000 x 700 mm and about 100mm thick. The plan is to sandwich western red cedar between 2 sheets of 18mm exterior grade plywood. That will then be mounted on top of a box frame constructed from 4 x 2 redwood with 4 legs at the front also from the 4 x 2 redwood. The legs will be fixed in place using a mortise and tenon.

The questions I have in relation to this bench specifically are:
1. Am I going overboard having 4 legs at the front, given the size of the bench would 3 be enough?

2. Even though this will be fixed to the wall should I put legs at the back of the bench as well, I don't think legs at the back would make any difference in terms of strength and stability which is why I removed them.

3. Given that I plan to use this for metal work and engineering, is it worth considering a granite worktop instead of the top sheet of plywood. I ask this because I've seen ads for second hand granite worktops at quite large sizes for almost the same as the cost of the plywood.

Fold up workbench aka Diana: This is going to be my main woodworking bench and will have two 9" Eclipse vices (front and tail), based on the recommendation of Paul Sellers. Although I'll be honest, I'm putting the tail vice on more as an indulgence than a necessity. Expensive indulgence I know. I'm mounting this one to the wall using 3 brackets which have a weight rating of over 500kg.
The top will be 1400 x 700 mm and 50 mm thick. Like Bertha, this will have a sandwich top, but I'll be using two sheets of 12mm instead of 18 mm. Everything else will be the same 4 x 2 redwood. I'm planning to use 3 legs with a cross beam at the bottom at the front and they will be fixed to the frame using hinges, so they will fold in when the bench is in its folded position. Not sure if 3 legs are overkill in all honesty.

Mini Workbench aka Tara: The intention is to use this as an additional bench, which will get clamped to either of the other benches to do more precise work and bring work pieces to a more comfortable height. Although I'm not tall, I think it will be a nice addition and its portability might allow me to do work in the other places. I'm going to put two small 7" vices on this one specifically the Irwin Woodcraft mostly due to the good reviews they get and the fact they are pretty cost effective. I'm using the same design as YouTuber Patrick Sullivan.

The bench top will measure 800 x 400 mm and be 50mm thick, I'm actually undecided on whether I want to stick with the same sandwich type top or just go for a 50mm thick laminated top using redwood. The legs will have feet that allow for clamping and aprons which will fix it to the top of the bench. With this being a smaller bench I'm going to be using 2 x 1 redwood for the legs and aprons and the feet will be from 1" blocks. One of the concerns I have with this bench is the length as it is longer than the width of my other benches and I'm just wondering whether that will annoy me.

Firstly is redwood or whatever softwood I get from the local timber place good for using as a bench or would it be better to use a hardwood which would comfortably increase the cost 5 fold if not more. Given that I intend to sandwich the top with plywood I'm fairly certain softwood would be fine.

My biggest question is whether the sandwich type bench top is worth doing. My reasoning is that the first layer of plywood will be easier to screw into the box frame and provide a flat surface for the middle, the laminated western red cedar will give stability and strength and the top layer of plywood will give a flatter surface to work on.

In terms of the Box Frame for Bertha and Diana, would it make any difference if I used 2 x 1 or 2 x 2 as opposed 4 x 2 for the frame.

Thoughts & opinions are welcome. I have tried to attach a dropbox link to show the sketch up drawings but that might not work.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/8e93i9gtcnub ... Fmeva?dl=0

Thanks


Khuz


Last edited by Khuz360 on 07 Jan 2018, 22:19, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Workbench designs
PostPosted: 07 Jan 2018, 16:40 
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Khuz360 wrote:
This will be replacing an existing bench and as such will be the last one I build ..........
Khuz

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha ...


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 Post subject: Re: Workbench designs
PostPosted: 07 Jan 2018, 22:19 
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phil.p wrote:
Khuz360 wrote:
This will be replacing an existing bench and as such will be the last one I build ..........
Khuz

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha ...


What's funny?


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 Post subject: Re: Workbench designs
PostPosted: 08 Jan 2018, 09:48 
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I think the laughter was because it sounded like you meant " This is the last workbench I'll ever have to build! " rather then it being the third bench built out of the three.

I read it that way too the first time, and I had a little chuckle myself until I re-read the post and realised that you'd just meant the order you'd be building the benches in.

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 Post subject: Re: Workbench designs
PostPosted: 08 Jan 2018, 10:06 
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Oh yeah, I see that now.


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 Post subject: Re: Workbench designs
PostPosted: 08 Jan 2018, 10:16 
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Yes - sorry. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Workbench designs
PostPosted: 08 Jan 2018, 13:58 
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Khuz360 wrote:
Hi All

The questions I have in relation to this bench specifically are:
1. Am I going overboard having 4 legs at the front, given the size of the bench would 3 be enough?


Two would be sufficient if they were strong enough. The more legs you have, the more contact points with the floor that need to be spot on. If one of those legs doesn't make good and even contact, then it's not doing anything...

I'd suggest a cross brace near the bottom though.

Khuz360 wrote:
2. Even though this will be fixed to the wall should I put legs at the back of the bench as well, I don't think legs at the back would make any difference in terms of strength and stability which is why I removed them.


Nope, legs at the back won't do anything if the wall fixings are strong enough. You can always add one or two supports at the back if you feel it's needed though.

Khuz360 wrote:

3. Given that I plan to use this for metal work and engineering, is it worth considering a granite worktop instead of the top sheet of plywood. I ask this because I've seen ads for second hand granite worktops at quite large sizes for almost the same as the cost of the plywood.


Sure, if you aren't likley to chip it by smacking it with a hammer

Khuz360 wrote:

Fold up workbench aka Diana: This is going to be my main woodworking bench and will have two 9" Eclipse vices (front and tail), based on the recommendation of Paul Sellers. Although I'll be honest, I'm putting the tail vice on more as an indulgence than a necessity. Expensive indulgence I know. I'm mounting this one to the wall using 3 brackets which have a weight rating of over 500kg.
The top will be 1400 x 700 mm and 50 mm thick. Like Bertha, this will have a sandwich top, but I'll be using two sheets of 12mm instead of 18 mm. Everything else will be the same 4 x 2 redwood. I'm planning to use 3 legs with a cross beam at the bottom at the front and they will be fixed to the frame using hinges, so they will fold in when the bench is in its folded position. Not sure if 3 legs are overkill in all honesty.



As above, two would be fine

Khuz360 wrote:

Mini Workbench aka Tara:

The bench top will measure 800 x 400 mm and be 50mm thick, I'm actually undecided on whether I want to stick with the same sandwich type top or just go for a 50mm thick laminated top using redwood. The legs will have feet that allow for clamping and aprons which will fix it to the top of the bench. With this being a smaller bench I'm going to be using 2 x 1 redwood for the legs and aprons and the feet will be from 1" blocks. One of the concerns I have with this bench is the length as it is longer than the width of my other benches and I'm just wondering whether that will annoy me.


Not sure why you think this 800mm bench is longer than your 2000mm and 1400mm benches? Am I missing something? Also not sure why you need to complicate things by having it slot over the other benches. Why not just have feet that allow you to clamp it to the top of a bench with a couple of F clamps - then you can have the mini bench whatever size you want. Laura Kampf did a nice mini workbench on YouTube

Khuz360 wrote:

Firstly is redwood or whatever softwood I get from the local timber place good for using as a bench or would it be better to use a hardwood which would comfortably increase the cost 5 fold if not more. Given that I intend to sandwich the top with plywood I'm fairly certain softwood would be fine.


It's a matter of personal preference, but the consensus on here is that softwood would be absolutely fine.

Khuz360 wrote:

My biggest question is whether the sandwich type bench top is worth doing. My reasoning is that the first layer of plywood will be easier to screw into the box frame and provide a flat surface for the middle, the laminated western red cedar will give stability and strength and the top layer of plywood will give a flatter surface to work on.



My concern would be that the top ply veneer of plywood is often much more fragile than normal timber. It's really easy to take a chunk out of a piece of plywood, whereas you're more likely to just dent timber.

Khuz360 wrote:

In terms of the Box Frame for Bertha and Diana, would it make any difference if I used 2 x 1 or 2 x 2 as opposed 4 x 2 for the frame.



Yes of course - the bigger and beefier the frame is, the more stable it will be. I'd personally be recommending you use a minimum of 2 if not 3 laminated 2 x 4 for each component - have a look at my workbench thread here for an example prototype-workbench-build-wip-t109850.html

I think beefing up your frames should be the number one priority if you want solid benches


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 Post subject: Re: Workbench designs
PostPosted: 08 Jan 2018, 16:32 
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You can make a brutally strong benchtop out of baltic birch ply if that appeals. An 8x4 sheet of 18 or 25mm ply, ripped lengthways and doubled up makes a very solid and heavy top. Use two sheets and layer up 4 thick and I imagine you could park a truck on it ... Add a sacrificial top if you like to screw jigs into your benchtop or use it for glue up.
For the feet, there are options out there for high strength (tons) levelling feet for machinery. You could make the two outside legs at the front fixed length and put levellers on the ones in the middle ...

I think a fixed heavyweight workbench borrowing extra mass from a wall should be starightforward. For me the inspirational workbench designs have something interesting in terms of vices, clamping, bench dogs, split tops; heirloom build quality, or a design that handles the sideways forces of hand planing while being light enough to move around.

For inspiration, you could look at
Aidan McEvoy's MoRoubo bench
Timothy Wilmots MF-TC tool cart
Ron Paulk's bench
A french treteau style trestle https://dblaney.wordpress.com/2013/04/0 ... y-forever/ (triangles are good)
Many mini bench threads - I like Jeff Toberts mini bench over at lumberjocks.com or this one https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Btby_gyCMAEqpnW.jpg if you're into hand cut dovetails.


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 Post subject: Re: Workbench designs
PostPosted: 08 Jan 2018, 20:15 
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Matt, thanks for comments, very helpful and your workbench looks fantastic. As for the mini workbench I meant its wider at 800mm than the other 2 are deep at 700mm. I've decided that it would annoy me though, so made it smaller. The Laura Kampf video was part of the inspiration for this. Are you suggesting for the frame and legs I go for 4 x 4 instead of 4 x 2 on the bigger benches. My only concern would be the weight increase on the fold up bench.

I was planning to use some sort of thick rubber at the bottom of the legs to ensure even contact with the floor because my garage floor is pretty uneven. I'm hoping by doing that it will stabilise the legs and ensure the bench stays level.

Sideways - I did consider multiple plywood sheets, but I decided to sandwich redwood in between to give the vice mounting better grip because I have found that screwing into plywood doesn't always grip as tightly as I would like.


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 Post subject: Re: Workbench designs
PostPosted: 08 Jan 2018, 20:22 
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If you're using a Record vice, they are more often bolted through the top than screwed to it.


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 Post subject: Re: Workbench designs
PostPosted: 08 Jan 2018, 21:35 
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Khuz360 wrote:
Are you suggesting for the frame and legs I go for 4 x 4 instead of 4 x 2 on the bigger benches. My only concern would be the weight increase on the fold up bench.


Sure, the thicker the better - it won't increase the weight of the bench dramatically, though I'm assuming you don't suffer from an ailment such as arthritis etc and would be ok lifting the extra weight. Apologies if that's not the case :)


Khuz360 wrote:
I was planning to use some sort of thick rubber at the bottom of the legs to ensure even contact with the floor because my garage floor is pretty uneven. I'm hoping by doing that it will stabilise the legs and ensure the bench stays level.


I'd ask then why you feel you need more than two legs? Two legs is easily enough to support a 2000mm span or less.


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 Post subject: Re: Workbench designs
PostPosted: 09 Jan 2018, 20:15 
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The reason I was opting for more than 2 legs on the bigger benches was because I was afraid that they would bow in the middle which I didn't want.

I don't have arthritis yet, but my grandad does and he will also use the fold up bench. So I wanted to ensure it was a nice balance between sturdy and manageable when lifting.


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