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(another) First workbench questions

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Togalosh

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Hello Gents,

I have put up with an inherited workbench for long enough now & really need to step up my game & make a proper one. I have looked at a few threads & I still have a few questions.

1) Bench dogs are 19mm but hold fasts are 22 or 23mm but all benches have 1 size hole as far as I can see - what hole diameter is needed?

2) Wood selection? Some benches are made of just one (species?) wood while others use a mixture - is it cost or structural characteristics of the wood that determines the choice of what wood to use where?

I can get cheap oak (green) & so I was going to use that but no one seems to use oak, is there a particular reason for this?

3) Can you please recommend a book/DVD that can answer my questions & more? I have writen a list of names from the previous threads that I'm looking up online but my life passes by so fast in front of a computer I'd rather get a book..but I've a lot of duff books.

Thanks in advance for any advise.
 

marcros

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I would have a look at the Chris Schward book. It is about £8.50 on amazon if I remember correctly. There is also one by Landis which some people like- I have yet to read this.

You seem to have answered your question about bench dogs and hold fasts. We have a group buy on here, if you do a search. They are 3/4" and are considerably cheaper than others on the market.

Wood selection- a combination of cost and asthetics more than anything. A work bench is a tool above most other considerations. Some people prefer their tools to be pretty as well as functional. You could use pretty much anything- beech is traditional in Europe because it wasplentiful and cheap. In the USA, yellow pine is popular in places- and is cited by Schwarz in his book. This is again because it is cheap and plentiful where he is. There is very little timber that wouldnt be suitable at all- some is more suitable than others.

Green oak is one of those that is not suitable, well green timber in general because it will move all over the place as it dries. Oak, would make a good bench, although it is considerably more expensive than other options.
 

Togalosh

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Hi Marcos... thanks for the reply.

I have big gaps in my knowledge & so what types of wood are best for specific situations/jobs is one of them. Pine for a bench does crop up a lot but it'd have to tight grained (figured) to fold a dog for long I recon... I'm in the 'tool above aethethics' camp but perhaps a pretty bench would get me to be more considered in the way I work.

I'll check out those books & the group buy thing..I've not seen that bit yet - thanks again.
 

marcros

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you could make a perfectly good bench from all softwood. The top may not last as long, but are you going to be using it all day every day in order to wear it out in the next few years. If you are, just replace the top.

Horses for corses- hardwood, softwood, ply, sleepers, there are examples benches made of all of these on the forum if you search. My personal choice was hardwood, but a solid door pblank topped with mdf (as a cost saving comprimise). I then got bench envy and found a few pennies to top the door in hardwood instead. I was lucky, I managed to get a great deal on some hardwood- both the initial purchase, and for the top from a different place. If I hadnt done so, it would have been made from unsorted softwood.
 

Togalosh

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I had seen an mdf topped bench but thought it'd last no time at all but it must serve a purpose.. but I'd also seen a lot of really swish ones & thought they look unused & so even more pointless (unless they are extra careful workers)...as you say it's about needs, cash flow & ego

I think I have also gathered a bit of bench envy myself too..perhaps a workbench photo gallery is needed.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply to me.

Take it easy.
 

Benchwayze

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Togalosh":1x4442tn said:
I had seen an mdf topped bench but thought it'd last no time at all but it must serve a purpose.. but I'd also seen a lot of really swish ones & thought they look unused & so even more pointless (unless they are extra careful workers)...as you say it's about needs, cash flow & ego

I think I have also gathered a bit of bench envy myself too..perhaps a workbench photo gallery is needed.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply to me.

Take it easy.
Have a word with RichardT for excellent hold-fasts. And 3/4" holes are the way to go for his Hold-fasts.

MDF will serve you as well as anything, if you don't plan on stripping down engines on your bench. (My son did that on mine while I was on holiday a few years back. 8) )
 

sometimewoodworker

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Togalosh

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Now - sliding pegs/tool rests are very clever yet so simple !

I'm about to order Workbench Design by Chris' Swartz & sometime soon loads of double chunky larc (RichardT's holdfasts are in progress).

...I'm keen to figure out why all the benches I see are so narrow - how do people glue up table tops or anything remotely sizeable ? Do they have another assembly bench & keep the workbench for just working wood?
 

marcros

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you will/may find that too wide a workbench means that the back is cluttered with rubbish. Mine is 21" and it was the best decision I made. It was tempting to make it as wide as possible, but if I was to build another, it might even be as narrow as 18".

Ask yourself, how much of your kitchen worktop do you actually use and how often do you push things to the back and leave them there?
 

Benchwayze

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Togalosh":2n5xg6ys said:
...I'm keen to figure out why all the benches I see are so narrow - how do people glue up table tops or anything remotely sizeable ? Do they have another assembly bench & keep the workbench for just working wood?
Short answer is:

Yes Tog.

In my case it's a pair of 'A' trestles and a sheet of 25mm MDF that I use on the drive. The only drawback is I can't assemble if it's tipping it down.

:)
 

tomthumbtom8

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wood it be cost affective to get the green Oak kiln dried for your work bench. ??

interested in this as I came to the same conclusion and started LOOKING on Ebay for timber

NO BEECH really to chose from but plenty of Green Oak

Thinking of making the bench from the woodwhispers

Tom
 

marcros

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Tom

For timber, I would give up on ebay. Unless you can find it locally, the carriage will be very expensive, and prices seem to be above retail anyway- probably for the sake of convenience. Dont be obsessed by beech either- yes it is widely used, but that is because it is relatively cheap and plentiful, or once was.

There will be somebody local to you that will hopefully chip in with their favoured local supplier. Ring around a few local places, tell them what you are making and ask what they have that would be suitable. Make sure it is in stock- many places will happily get you anything you want but it gets very expensive to get a few boards of even the cheapest non stock timber in. For guidance, look at the likes of ash, beech, oak. I wouldnt rule out the idea of using softwod for the frame and hardwood for the top or softwood for the lot. If you are looking for softwood, ask if they have "unsorted". some builders merchants may stock it (some Travis Perkins used to, I dont know if they still do), timber merchants should stock it.

If you do some searches on the forum, there are some great benches- both traditional and otherwise. There is certainly one that was made from new railway sleepers that looked fantastic. They may also inspire your timber choices.

The advantage of a work bench is that it doesnt need to fit with other furniture. Whilst you may not be able to get away with using cheaper timber in the house, where the wife demands that she wants the coffee table made from finest walnut, at least on this one you can use whatever you choose!

HTH
Mark
 

DTR

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marcros":tziejlow said:
If you are looking for softwood, ask if they have "unsorted". some builders merchants may stock it (some Travis Perkins used to, I dont know if they still do), timber merchants should stock it.
Dumb beginner question #264: what is meant by "unsorted"?

Thanks (hammer)
 

marcros

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contrary to common sense, it is what is left after they have taken the worst of it out, and so is an unsorted mixture of the best few grades! It should therefore be pretty knot free.
 

DTR

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marcros":42la8o5g said:
contrary to common sense, it is what is left after they have taken the worst of it out, and so is an unsorted mixture of the best few grades! It should therefore be pretty knot free.
I see, thanks
 

Tony Spear

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Togalosh":3092xfyz said:
I had seen an mdf topped bench but thought it'd last no time at all but it must serve a purpose........ it's about needs, cash flow & ego
The MDF top is normally sacrificial, replaced every so often.

Most cost effective solution is probably unsorted redwood for the whole thing with MDF top as above.

Most important is that the design suits you and it's sturdy!

(Says he, who's still using an ancient bench made from heavy duty Dexion frame, topped with softwood and MDF and bolted to the wall at the back! :oops: )
 

eoinsgaff

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I think that Oak is not suitable for a bench top. The tannins in the oak react with ferrous metals so hardware such as holdfasts, vices and some tools would cause problems. I'd definitely recommend Chris Schwartz's book. Its a good read and even if you do not use his designs, his analytical approach will make your own decisions easier.
 
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