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marcros

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I am planning to make a new workbench over the next month or so.

The torsion box idea seems to be an economical and practical solution. I have seen a number of discussions on these. Some seem to use mdf in the core, and make a grid of 6" squares. Others simply use 4"x2" cross members, and an outer frame. Is one better than the other? I was planning to use either 12mm or 18mm ply for the top and bottom, the core as one of the above options. I would put a hardboard ultimate sacrificial top on. There seems to be a few designs where people are concerned about the overall thickness of the tops, and some seem to have holes in the front rail. What is the reason for these concerns?

My thoughts are to make the bench 8' x 2'. I may make some tool storage cubbyholes on the back. I would like to use it for general woodworking, and this size seems to be comparable with benches available to buy. Any thoughts- too narrow, too wide?

I keep reading great things about Richard's holdfasts. Can anybody help me what I need to design into the bench in order to use these? I was going to (hopefully) put in a front and an end vice. What is the difference between the all timber ones that I have seen, and the record 52 1/2 E timber faced vices?

TIA
Mark
 

condeesteso

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Hi - benches are one of my favourite topics. But I am not at all familiar with the torsion box idea. It sounds like a fair bit of work and I wonder if the gain is worth the effort. May I suggest you consider a solid top? One sheet of 18mm mdf, ripped down the middle gets you 2 off 8' x 2', and 36mm of thickness. On top of that half a sheet of ply or similar. I would aim for about 50mm total thickness. Then solid say 4" square legs, flush with the front of the top.
One reason for the target 50mm top is when you drill 3/4" holes in the top and front for 'dogs', traditional holdfasts will work really well. And I admit I am a real fan of Richard's forge-made holdfasts (at a bargain price too). They are seriously the most versatile, fast and solid work-piece holding tools imaginable.
May I also suggest front-to-back depth does not exceed say 20". Any deper creates space at the back that you won't really use, and it just gets cluttered with mess. if I was making one of these I would positively lose about 4" off the mdf sheet as I find more than 20" is actually a hinderance - takes up space for no reason, makes clamping typical panels across the top less easy etc.
I am interested in the torsion-box design just to see how it looks... any pics etc welcome as I am not familiar with it.
 

Paul Chapman

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I don't like the idea of torsion box construction for a workbench. It will be lighter than a solid top and, for a workbench, heavy is better. It will also limit where you can position the holes for dogs and holdfasts.

Cheers :wink:

Paul
 

No skills

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Agree with Paul, I'm no carpenter for sure but I would prefer some solidity to the work surface when I'm bashing away at a bit of wood.

:)
 

condeesteso

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Hi all - looked at the vid... wow, a lot of work for a bench top I think. This is only my own thought, but all the top needs to be is flat; stiff; massy (to absorb impacts). I still say 2 sheets (2 x mdf and a top anything, even a 3rd mdf) will make a great benchtop. fast, cheap, flat, effective, massy. Personally I can't see a real benefit to this complex spacial structure for a simple bench. I imagine the box structure introduces some issues - fitting hardware (vices), using any standard clamping device (from dogs to holdfasts).... Open structures like this are great for big mechanical strength in certain directions ( a variation of the steel i-beam) but I really don't see why on a bench-top. But there would be loads of homes for the hamsters...

(basically agree with Paul... again!)
 

marcros

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Thanks Douglas.

The idea, as I understand it is that the box is made from a skin top and bottom, firmly glued to a honeycomb structure inside, much like a lightweight door. This honeycomb can be a simple grid, although I am not quite sure of the limits of how simple. If the bottom skin is in tension, through a load being applied, the other skin is in compression, and because they are bonded, neither can move. It is, as I understand it, a lightweight alternative to a traditional heavyweight bench, and is cost effective, in that it is a sheet or two of MDF, rather than £1000 of hardwood.

Below are a couple of links that show some of the principles- there is a lot of info on youtube too. http://americanwoodworker.com/blogs/pro ... bench.aspx
http://www.finewoodworking.com/PlansAnd ... x?id=28855

I dont think that it should be that much work to make, although your solid idea is worth looking at.

Wrt to the dog holes would you recommend a line along the front of the bench or along the front and end. Is there a standard spacing?

What do you tend to actually use the hold fasts for- I have to confess that I had never heard of them before joining this forum?

Mark
 

mtr1

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I think most of the torsion box benches I've seen, are assembly benches/glue up benches, and not what I consider a workbench.
 

No skills

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In the videos Marc says their assembly tables and if you look at his workshop he has a more trad workbench for handtool use, I think this style of table top would be quick to make (assuming you have a brad gun and something flat to build it on), use cheap materials and give a very flat surface on which to build your projects - something which isnt easy to achive for people like me with little hand plane skill :oops:
 

marcros

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That makes the construction of a solid top pretty simple then. I can worry about assembly tables later in my life! Sounds like it makes fitting vices and extras easier too.

What is the difference between all timber vices and things like the record woodworking vices?
 

condeesteso

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Hi Marcros - A solid simple top will serve you very well indeed, I am quite sure. Re vices, go for metal screw versions (like the Records you mention) as the traditional wood screws are expensive and quite tricky to fit and use (so only obsessives like me even bother).
Probably use a 'Record' (I mean a cheaper pattern is fine, try Rutlands, Axminster, and check on ebay too) quick-release as an end-vice. Then align the dog holes along top to the centre-line of the Q/R screw.
The holdfasts are very basic 'shepherds crook' looking steel bars, you drop the leg into a hole in the bench (the 3/4 dog-hole). Do have a look at the 'may have found a UK blacksmith' thread for a lot more info, but I rate them very highly indeed. If in doubt pm RichardT here - he makes 'em.
Generally I would say pause a little while before building a bench. It will be THE most important tool in the workshop, and you might spend a lot of time at it. It's good I think to reverse-engineer a bench. I mean think more about what you want to do at it, then the bench will 'sort-of' design itself.
 

yetloh

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Mark,

I agree with those who speak in favour of weight and solidity. These are extremely valuable characteristics in a bench, especially when any heavy work is being tackled. One of the easisest ways to get this is to use a solid fire door. These are heavy, solid and extremely stable. Ifyou are palnning a tail vice of any sort, they also lend themselved to a double row of dog holes, which I have found to extremely useful for holding irregularly shaped or wide pieces.

Jim
 
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