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Bench Design - Please do a critique

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kinsella

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I'm about to start work on a new work bench. See pictures. My question is, i've never used a proper bench since school, i don't know how i've managed without one over the years. I now got a load of salvaged good quality 1940's pine to make it. I've looked on the internet and i've decided that i would like a front vice and tail vice. i've purchased the Axminster York front and tail vice.

Does anyone know details of how these are constructed. I got some vague ideas, but if anyone has any pictures or links that would be helpful.

Another thing is puzzling me. I see on the internet that most tail screws like i'm intending, the piece on the front just by the gap where is says 75mm on my top view drawing doesn't meet the main bench. Why not? is this a typical method? is there a reason? as i could see an advantage for having that ack as a vice also?

Screws i'm using are:
York Tail Screw
York Front Screw

Also: Can those of you who have experience of benches take a look at my design and let me know where you see major use problems and suggest changes as you see fit. I'd hate to build it and then realise that i've mucked it up.

Ken, Newbie
 

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marcros

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Ken,

could I recommend the book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Workbenches-Des ... 089&sr=1-1 on the subject. I have it in my hand at the moment.

I have just lost a long reply, so rather than retype it, do some forum searches for "roubo bench" and "holdfasts". There are several good bench builds on here and they are great reading whilst you are in the design stage.

Personally, I would simplify your design, and think: legs, bracing, top and vices as your main parts. This is basically the roubo bench from the Schwarz book.

It may sound irrelevant, but what are you wanting to make on your new bench?
 

kinsella

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Everything i do is for me, friends or family. Its mainly furniture, ie my next few projects are (with the exception of the bench). Dressers x 4, wardrobes x 2, arts & Craft style display unit, new back door, finishing 6 Teak planters.
 

marcros

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Ken,

I hope that somebody more knowledgable than I will jump in. I am very much a beginner and am designing my first bench. I have been doing some research online, and have the book above.

You need to think about how you are going to be able to work on all faces and edges of a board, and how you can hold work to do so. Having the front of the top flush with the legs will allow you to hold work against the front edge of the top. The far end can be supported with holdfasts, or by clamping a support in your end vice.

I would suggest that you drill 3/4" "dog" holes in your top to allow you to use holdfasts- we have a group deal on here if you do a search. would also build in a planing stop. I cant zoom in on your design- what width and thickness have you designed the top to be?
 

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As to the tail vise, take a look here: http://www.lie-nielsen.com/catalog.php?sku=ltv and read the installation instructions which you can download from the link on the page. That ought to make it clear how the vise works and how it is assembled. Most tail vises operate the same way.

I've heard numerous reasons for why they don't close up fully. I've never bought any of those reasons, though.
 

kinsella

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Maybe I should have bought that type of tail vice, but I opted for the one that just has the screw and I need to build a carriage system. Budget version!!

I should have added that I will be putting in square dog holes, both sides, plus a planning stop.

Maybe I should have bought the book !
 

Jacob

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As it's your first bench I wouldn't commit yourself to something so complicated and difficult to make. It's the sort of design you'd expect as a "last" bench made by somebody experienced who knows exactly what he wants and has designed it to suit his needs.
Instead I'd stick to the universal school pattern as per this one from the Paul Sellers site:

PICT00181-1024x768.jpg


Dead easy to make, highly functional and anyway you need it in order to build the one you have designed! It's highly adaptable with plenty of scope for add ons of various sorts.
Thread here: tell-me-how-to-build-the-easiest-workbench-possible-t57285-15.html

The simple bench is basically two pairs of 4x4" legs joined by 6 x 1 1/2 rails M&T joints.
Then the "beam" is added say 3x9". Then the aprons, say 1 1/2" x 10" housed to brace the legs and the back one raised to make the back of the well. Then a bit of ply for the well base. Could do it in a day easy!
 

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SketchUp Guru

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Even if you aren't using a vise such as the one to which I linked, it'll give you an idea of how to build the bits you need to make it work right. there's a lot of info there in the instructions. I used the documentation when I worked out the dimensions to draw that vise for a bench plan I made a year or so ago.
 

Jacob

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I've just been browsing the Scott Landis book which is full of interesting stuff without a doubt - but everything is fussy and complicated - even where supposedly "basic" such as Ian Kirby's on page 80. The exceptions being the (over simple) planing beam or bench.

IMHO there is a huge omission - the basic Brit bench as per the Sellers one above. Thousands of these have been made and used for generations and most people learned on something similar. Oddly there is a note about the Workmate (useless IMHO) but absolutely no mention of the bench we all know and take for granted.
Bring back the British bench!

PS Is it British? I assume so, it seems to be based around the Record vice. Is the Record vice a very British thing?
 

kinsella

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Some useful pointers, I think back to the drawing board, or to bring to the 21st century drawing computer. I might invest in the book, I've been avoiding it but maybe I have no choice.

Clamping against the face is something I've missed, I think I concentrated on clamping from the underside, but with dogs, this use is lessened, so that's a useful pointer.
 

Cheshirechappie

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A couple of points I've learned from my first bench.

1) Make the underframe as rigid as possible. When you plane a board on the benchtop, the force can be considerable, and will try to distort the retangular-shaped underframe into a parallelogram (provided you don't shove it across the floor!). The only thing resisting this is the strength of the underframe joinery. Make that massive, then a bit bigger. (I didn't, and it's a serious failing.)

2) I made mine out of joinery grade pine, because it was easily available. The top was laminated out of 3x2's, long side vertical, paying attention to end-grain so that it went alternate ways across the top. It has stayed remarkably flat. It cuts up a bit more than a hardwood one would, but being pine, cleaning it up with a plane now and again is not so onerous. Could have don with a bit more mass in the whole thing, though - another reason for a heavy underframe.

3) May be worth dispensing with the storage drawers underneath. You know what's going to happen - clamp job in face vice, need tool that's in a drawer blocked by job. Also, holdfasts through the top can be very handy, but they protrude below the bench top underside, so you need a bit of 'daylight' under there.

4) Provide a row of dog holes about 3" maximum in from the front, in line with the middle of the tailvice. I used a Record vice fixed to the right-hand end as a tailvice, and the centreline of that threw the line of dog-holes about 6" from the front. It's too far in - you have to lean over the bench when you have a narrowish bit held for planing, and it distorts your back rather uncomfortably. From experience, keep your front row of dog-holes as near the front edge of the bench as you can sensibly get them.

The general layout of the benchtop looks very good, however. Good luck with the build!
 

RogerS

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Storage drawers underneath are a right PITA. I fitted some to my bench and wish I hadn't.

Are there any dog holes in the top...not clear from the drawing.

I did see an interesting design that had the hollow well in the middle of the bench rather than at the back. Worth considering.
 

Midnight

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vise issues aside, the key requirements that every bench needs to have are rigidity, as much square footage in the top as space permits, and mass... heavier the better. Using relitivly light timber in the construction might leave you wanting in the mass dept, the drawers however may compensate for that; you can save hours of tool-hunting time by organising your bench tools in the drawers, and their mass will only help whatever is happening up topside. If you plan to edge joint your boards in the front vise, you'll need some way to support the far end of the board, sliding deadman being just one example (currently looking at adding one to my bench). My personal preference is not to have a toolwell in the benchtop... it's just a place for mess to gather, but some guys can't live without them... I'd rather keep the surface clear and free, tools not in use stored in the drawers/cupboard under the bench.

One other aspect... think about how to knock the bench down into component parts in the event you move house...
 

condeesteso

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Missed this one... probably built already!
I agree about rigidity and mass. Not so sure about maximum surface area - I'd say around 78" is plenty.
I also agree make the first one fairly basic - your ideas on benches will evolve anyway, and a basic design is easier to modify later.
The school bench above is a good basic design - apron front and Record face vice. Whether for front or tail position, a second-hand Record 9" Quick-release will be a very good find, and will probably go with you to the next bench and the next... (Personally I would fit a leg vice in favour of a Record any day, but others disagree).
I think those trad L shaped tail vices are flawed as they try to be 2 things and are not very good at either - hard to set-up and keep aligned, limited in use, fussy. A straight vice in tail position (another Record even) or a shop made wagon vice is worth considering. That's just a vice screw, a channel along the top and a dog=block riding within the channel on the screw.
The Landis book shows loads of benches with fronts set back. I don't have the book but don't recall seeing a single one with flush front assembly. Chris Schwarz on the other hand would never make a bench with the front set back. I have still to hear any real arguments in favour of setting the front back, because the front when flush is a great big clamping area (for doors, frames, big sheets etc). I am very firmly in the Schwarz camp on that issue.
Personally I think front-to-back maximum 22", and 20 is fine. I don't like built-in tool trays - they fill up with smaller tools then get covered in shavings etc.
Consider a loose tray along the back, resting on short cantilevers screwed under back bench top. It lifts off for cleaning, and isn't part of the actual bench.
And I would not want to spend time making drawers etc under - a couple of shelves maybe, but the drawer system is a lot of work fixed into a bench you may later replace.

Keep us informed of decisions and progress - there is no one perfect bench, so good to have a look at another one!
 

Phil Pascoe

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i designed mine without aprons for better accessability for ccramping.
another good idea is to get a short length of spur shelf support and set it a groove in the leg at the other end to your vice- a short shelf bracket, and you have an adjustable support for sheets of ply, doors etc. just remember to remove the bracket when not in use, as you'll catch your shin on it!
 

Anima

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Please forgive my stupidity but what's the bit sticking out from the middle?
 

marcros

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i like the design. my only criticism would be that i think it is a bit too deep front to back. I did mine at about 20" i think, and wish now that i had had the balls to go for 18". but that is me- i could find spare space to dump stuff on the edge of a razor blade!
 

kinsella

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The stick sticking up was me just drawing the dogs so i new what size to cut them. :oops: :oops: the other bench looking bit is the jib to cut the holes for the dogs.

Marcros, i'm rough cutting the weekend, i might take another look at that, thanks for comment.

PS, its going to cost me circa £50 when i'm finished. All the wood is salvaged. the darker colour is Beech and the lighter is salvage spreader plates from bomb reinforcement from an old 1902 building that had some work pre war. I think its colorado pine or similar. All i've bought is the glue and the bench screws.

Anyone who wants the sketchup drawings is free to have them, just PM me.
 
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