Thoughts welcome on my bench top idea

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robmarshall

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Hi everyone, I’m new to the forum today, but have been reading and gathering your insights for sometime!

I’ve been diy woodworking for a few years mainly using a combo of a Black & Decker workmate or makeshift trestles, so I figured it was time I had a proper bench in the garage to make life easier. I’ve got a few projects coming up (built in book cases, wardrobes x2) so need to get a move on with my bench build. Space is tight, so I need a bench to perform multiple jobs, or at least be capable of being re-rolled. I picked up a new oak block kitchen worktop last year (2000x900) and my plan is to cut out a piece of this to enable inserting 2 different tops depending on the task, the idea being to fit in an MFT style top for cutting and assembling and router table table for routing operations. Here’s a sketch, so what do you think? My main concern is keeping the inserts flat when installed. I can easily fit braces, but acknowledge that they would reduce the functionality of some of the MFT dog holes. All thoughts welcome, many thanks, Rob.
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MARK.B.

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To prevent or at least reduce any sagging cross support could be added underneath by simply placing them so they fit between the rows of holes.

Should have added Hello and Welcome :)
 
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BucksDad

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Welcome Rob! You made a good choice to sign up here - I'm relatively new and love the community here and all the advice, insights and projects

No doubt others with plenty more wisdom than I have will be along shortly but check out the YouTube channel "Hooked on Wood". Dennis has a great workbench design which incorporates both MFT and router in one bench and is 1.8m long. He has videos showing the build and you can also see the plans for it here
Hooked on Wood - Shop Improvements

You would likely never use most of those MFT dog holes in the middle. I would do as Dennis has done and don't bother having swappable insert but just put the router plate somewhere in the same sheet
 

Jameshow

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Hi everyone, I’m new to the forum today, but have been reading and gathering your insights for sometime!

I’ve been diy woodworking for a few years mainly using a combo of a Black & Decker workmate or makeshift trestles, so I figured it was time I had a proper bench in the garage to make life easier. I’ve got a few projects coming up (built in book cases, wardrobes x2) so need to get a move on with my bench build. Space is tight, so I need a bench to perform multiple jobs, or at least be capable of being re-rolled. I picked up a new oak block kitchen worktop last year (2000x900) and my plan is to cut out a piece of this to enable inserting 2 different tops depending on the task, the idea being to fit in an MFT style top for cutting and assembling and router table table for routing operations. Here’s a sketch, so what do you think? My main concern is keeping the inserts flat when installed. I can easily fit braces, but acknowledge that they would reduce the functionality of some of the MFT dog holes. All thoughts welcome, many thanks, Rob. View attachment 127880
Seems a waste of oak worktop imho.

How about a frame of 3x2 timber with a lip inside which the inserts sit in?

Keep the oak worktop for when you want to build a real workbench for hand tool work?

Just a thought?

Cheers James
 

Bojam

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Hi Rob. Welcome aboard!

No doubt others with plenty more wisdom than I have will be along shortly but check out the YouTube channel "Hooked on Wood". Dennis has a great workbench design which incorporates both MFT and router in one bench and is 1.8m long. He has videos showing the build and you can also see the plans for it here
Hooked on Wood - Shop Improvements

You would likely never use most of those MFT dog holes in the middle. I would do as Dennis has done and don't bother having swappable insert but just put the router plate somewhere in the same sheet

Agree with this. I like Dennis’ design and when I get round to building a new bench I’ll certainly take inspiration from that. Also Andy at the Woodgrafter (see his channel on YouTube) built a nice bench recently.

My current bench is a take on Ron Paulk’s design (again see his YouTube channel). I built the router plate into one end of the bench. Dog holes across the rest of it. It works well enough but I’d prefer a solid frame rather than two bolted torsion boxes resting on heavy duty trestles. Also the use of micro jig clamping slots on the aprons (Dennis’ design) makes a lot of sense, especially when you don’t have a bench vice.

I’ll post a picture or two of my current set up when I’m at the computer later.
 

robmarshall

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Thank you for your replies so far, lots of food for thought! I especially like the side apron with clamp track that Dennis on ‘Hooked on Wood’ has incorporated. That may have to be a future adaptation as it probably won’t work with the sub frame I’ve built. I am currently planning on putting a flush mounted vice I have down at the non-insert end of the bench, but that apron looks brilliant. And I too have thought about the lovely oak being a waste, but as I picked it up for cheap on FB marketplace (there is loads of wood on there), and I plan on making some chopping boards with the cut out, I’m not too sentimental about it - it won’t go to waste.
 

robmarshall

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Could you not just make the holes in the worktop and cut the router insert into the left hand side? No need to swap things over then.

I think the 40mm depth of the oak worktop would rule out of the use of clamps through the MFT style holes if I did that, so unless I thinned out the thickness by half on the underside I’m not sure that’s an option. Shame though, that would keep it simple!
 

BucksDad

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I think the 40mm depth of the oak worktop would rule out of the use of clamps through the MFT style holes if I did that, so unless I thinned out the thickness by half on the underside I’m not sure that’s an option. Shame though, that would keep it simple!

Dennis has the answer for you again. China Tools Episode 29, Dog hole clamps - YouTube He rates them superior to the standard rail clamps
 

Morag Jones

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Yea welcome from me too.

Since having a purpose made workbench I feel I’m working in a much safer way. Space is pretty tight but it is working for me. I use a 25mm slab of oak block worktop over my Bestcombi 2000 when not using it. Thanks to offcuts from a kind kitchen fitter. Needed a little channel routed on the underside over the saw blade. Sits next to my workbench so it is easy to lift off.

My point is… yes it is really pretty and actually increases my enjoyment of using the workspace. Largely because I’m keeping it tidier.

Fully admit that heaps of cr*p continue to build up elsewhere. 🤣
 

pe2dave

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I'd check with the mft size, that you can hold whatever securely enough with the spacings you have?
Otherwise, great idea (+1 to supporting the middle though, brick wotnot idea)
 

Morag Jones

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Just a thought on dog holes, I'd probably agree about planning and drilling the worktop itself as lots of holes in the middle would drive me crazy. I'd always be dropping stuff through them and not be able to find them in the sawdust that would already be underneath...

I have 2 sizes of dogs on my bench, the smaller post ones fit and work lovely with a piece of water pipe. Had to slice a tiny bit out to make the fit right.
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Dynamite

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Hi Rob, welcome. I think your idea is spot on to be honest. Look forward to seeing some pics of your progress.

Kind Regards... Rob
 

robmarshall

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Thanks everyone. And there was me thinking I had an original idea before watching Andy the Woodgrafter; thanks for the steer Bojam. I’ve done plenty more thinking and YouTube watching and still think my proposed design will work best for me. A set of parallel tracks on the front would be a great future addition, as would a flush mounted vice on the left hand side for hand tool work, but they’ll have to wait (and will likely need a re-design of the frame).

Here are some pics of progress so far for those interested. I won’t bore anyone with all the mistakes I’ve made, but the most annoying by far has been that whilst I picked up the legs for free and thought I’d keep their look, no face is square to any other. With my limited tools and experience this meant making a square frame was challenging! The front and back rails bolt on to the end frames so it can be dismantled when I move house. Apart from the back lower rail, that I forgot about the dismantling part and mortise and tenoned in. Oh well, that’s a problem for down the line.

Next idea for supporting the birch ply router and MFT inserts is using a length of steel angle cut into the front and back rails. I could fit it using threaded inserts and countersunk bolts so they could be removed if needs be (or moving house!). Rails are 94x44mm, angle probably 2mm steel in a 30mm L shape. But, like any wood support built into the frame, they‘d be flush with the underside of the 40mm oak top, meaning they are 22mm below the 18mm ply insert routed into the oak. I have a few ideas about bridging that 22mm gap, but all are complicated - so I’d welcome any ideas for supporting the birch ply inserts off the bench’s frame that you may have?!

Thanks, Rob

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hlvd

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It’s not going to be strong enough with a huge hole cut out of its middle.
Better to have a hole just for the router insert and a blanking plate when not used.
 

robmarshall

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It’s not going to be strong enough with a huge hole cut out of its middle.
Better to have a hole just for the router insert and a blanking plate when not used.
I’m not sure the cut out of the oak top is going to fatally weaken it, I mean it is designed it usually have big kitchen sinks cut out of it. Plus the positioning of the sub frame provides support pretty much directly under the long edge of the cut out portion. If once cut that looks like an issue then that’s easily fixed with additonal battens underneath. And yes just sticking a router insert directly into the oak would be easy, but wouldn’t provide the cross-functionality I’m after. I have a cramped garage (not a workshop) so every ounce of functionality I can squeeze I will. Right hand side, router or track saw station, left hand side for hand tools (pending a vice or front face clamping option). My only concern remains sagging of the birch ply inserts, but I have options for that.
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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You should have a look at Dennis' bench, which incorporates many of the features you want, and it very sturdily built.



I will add that this is a design for a small workshop or a hobbiest seeking all-in-one. More experienced woodworkers recognise the value of separate work stations ... but one does need the space for them.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

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