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Andycase

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Hi All

I am considering, at some point in the future, getting a much better bench than i have at present. I built it myself, its solid, with a double thickness mdf top, but my vice is a £10 cheapy that has broke, and i have no dog holes and no storage.
So i have been looking at something like this
http://www.rutlands.co.uk/hand-tools/wo ... m-by-500mm

If i was to make something to the same spec (in particular the vices and hardwood top), could it be done cheaper?
I always struggle to price hardwood as everyone prices it by the cuft/mtr whereas i like to know if i get, for example, 5 x 2.4mtr 4x4 beech, it will be £xyz

So, assuming i had the time and inclination to build one, with hardware and end vice, dogs etc - could it be done for £500-£600 approx, or is buying one the cheapest option?

I love the look of Maguires benches - he does one for £1000 (out of my league, but something to drool over)
 

Chrispy

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Hi Andy

Some timber yards will either get wood out to your cutting list or at least supply enough timber to meet a cutting list, if you find one of these yards then email them your list and they should be able to give you a pretty good idea of the end bill.
Saying that I just over purchase and break the boards down my self so can't advise on any yard in particular.
 

marcros

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Think of it like this Andy. A Maguire bench is fantastic, you will struggle to find better. But there is a lot of labour involved in making it, which if you build it yourself you dont need to necessarily account for. The same with any of the professionals on the forum- if they are making a living from the work, then need to charge for their time and skill involved in making it. Unfortunately, time and skill dont come cheap! If your budget is the Rutlands one, at £500-600, then I am sure that you could build one yourself that is similar to the Maguire one.

I am (very slowly and when the family allows) building the Chris Scwarz English work bench from this book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Workbenches-Des ... 341&sr=8-1, which is well worth the price if you are thinking of buying benches/vices etc. It is not a million miles from the Maguire one that you are lusting after- the quality of mine will not be quite up there with his, but it will be built to as high a standard as I can achieve.

The English workbench, without working it out completely, will take about 8 cubic feet of timber, if my memory serves me correctly. The Roubo (also in the book) takes about 13 cubic feet (IIRC). Guessing, the rutlands one will be slightly less- I guess about 5 cubic feet. You may find that with the aid of excel, a simple spreadsheet working out the cubic footage of timber in each component to be extremely useful. You can then look at how using ash instead of oak affects the timber price, just by changing the cubic footage price in 1 cell. If you are struggling with this (I have no idea of your IT proficiency), drop me a message and I will make you something up. Vices can be sourced from a number of places- ebay for QR Records, Axi for screws to make your own, right up to Benchcrafted all singing all dancing models.

I certainly wouldnt spend the money on the rutlands one. Benches are a fantastic thing to make yourself.

In the meantime, why not replace the top of your existing one. A better vice- eg ebay could move to the new bench easily, drill dog holes in your new top (you really need 65mm plus thickness for holdfasts). A solid core fire door with an mdf top on is a cheap way of creating a top if you want to save your funds for the new bench. Lack of storage underneath isn't necessarily a bad thing, I dont think. It is personal preference though.

HTH
Mark
 

beech1948

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There aree a few interesting strategies available.

1) Buy a bench. At £700 the Rutlands bench will have a maximum wholesale cost of about £250 + a little more for delivery. So the wood and vices are not of the best that is available. Performance will probably be marginal as well. OK if you need a bench quickly.

2)Make a bench.
2a) Use a massive softwood base. Say 6 inch square legs and 3x6 rails. Advantage is its cheap and will perform very well. Heavy mass and if made well will not rack. Could take a cupboard.
The top could be 2x 18mm MDF glued and screwed with ply and or hardboard on top. Vices could be older refurbished Records
2b) Make a completely softwood bench like that in the following posts. This is from a design which has become a standard for Good, Fast, Cheap Benches. Remember that posh wood and style do not make you a better woodworker.

sample benchhttp://www.legacycrests.com/bobanddavebench.html
samplehttp://home.comcast.net/~bmlerner/workbench.htm
Bob Keys design from the Wayback machinehttp://web.archive.org/web/20041126023648/www.terraclavis.com/bws/beginners.htm. If the pictures are missing then send me a pm and I will copy my stored version to you if I can find it.
2c) Softwood base plus an Ash hardwood top plus the used Record Vices
2d) Cheaper hardwood base eg Ash and Ash top
2e) Ash base and beech top

and so we can go in terms of price.

You possibly need to be aware that the softwood base made from FAS selection at your timber yard and not from a DIY shed will create a bench of some excellence.

I guess you got my point by now. :D :D :D

Al
 

Mr T

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Hi Andy

I've just done a fag packet calculation and I reckon there is about 4 cube of beech in the Rutlands bench (allowing about 30% wastage, which may be a bit low). My local suppliers Duffields at Ripon sell beech at £30.50. So that's about £144(inc vat) for the wood and say another £120 for the vices, less if you use a second hand record 52 1/2 for the front vice. £264 all together.

The undercarriage of the Rutlands bench looks a bit spindly to me.

I'm currently working on a bench design for a proposed course. I'm planning using laminations of MDF with a 5 mm beech skin to give a 4" top. This way the top should stay flat. The two most important factors for a good bench are stability, provided by a robust undercarriage, and a good chunky flat top.

Chris
 

marcros

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I had a further look at the rutlands one and the close up details. I wouldnt pay even the suggested wholesale price!

As Al says above, there are a number of options, depending on what you want and what you want to spend.
 

Andycase

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Thanks marcos
I have found a site that says if you take width inches x depth inches, divide by 144 and multiply by length inches, you get your cubic foot.
If thats right, then timber for the top, based on 2 inch depth and 28 inch width and 2mtr length would be approx 31 cuft
I got a quote of £26 per cuft - £808+VAT

OUCH!
I must have done my calculation wrong!! Surely?

Al, i would definitely do a softwood base, especially if my calculation regarding the top is correct.
 

Mr T

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Hi

The Rutlands bench is 60" long by 20" wide so the top pieces will be :

one piece (built up) 60x2x16 = 1920 cu inches
two pieces 60x4x3=1440

and for the undercarriage:

4 legs 34x3x3= 1224
4 rails 18x3x3=648

That gives 5232 cu inch. Add 30% wastage = 6800. Divide by number of cubic inches in cubic foot 1728 gives 3.9 cu ft.

Chris
 

Andycase

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Wow, i was way off.....silly person.
So, assuming a solid base made out of softwood, but splashing out on a hardwood top, assume Beech at £33 per cuft, the top based on 3inch depth, 26inch width, 72inch length = 3.25cu ft. Add 30% = 4.3cu ft = £141.90 + VAT
Thats not as bad as what i thought.
Just got myself a Record 52 vice for £10

So if i got a tail vise and reclaimed softwood, i could get the bench for less than £500

Have just seen a Roubo bench.......imagine Homer Simpson drooling. I know a bench is just to work on, but wow, i want one. Its more like a piece of furniture!
 

siggy_7

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Andy, your formula is wrong - the width x depth in inches divided by 144 gives the cross-sectional area of the top in square feet. So to calculate the volume in cubic feet, you need to multiply 2 x 28 / 144 = 0.389 square feet by the length of the worktop in feet, not inches. Hence your estimate is a factor of 12 too big. No wonder you got a price shock there!
 

Andycase

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With regards vices - if i wanted the L Shaped one that goes on the end of the bench, i have seen some at Brimarc, but not entirely sure im looking at the right thing or how they are fitted. Can someone point me in the right direction?
Also, the book by Chris Schwartz - does that take you through making one step by step or is it just ideas?
 

beech1948

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Just thinking as well about prices ( I'm travelling so I'm stuck on the train) you may also want to look at Dieter Schmit - Fine tools in Germany. With EU pricing if you pay VAT in Germsny you don't have to pay VAT here....only real issue is transport costs.

I see his web site has some interesting examples of vices and benches made by customers.

Al
 

Andy RV

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I built this bench a couple of months ago:


Total build cost was around £200 including vice's, 4"x4" leg sections, the top is 8'x36"x3", constructed from redwood with sapele details.
 

Steve Maskery

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Andy
The other book you should consult before you start is Landis' The Workbench Book. Lots of ideas and pretty comprehensive construction plans.

T'other Andy
That looks excellent. Do you have any WIPs?
S
 

Noggsy

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Andy, beautiful looking bench mate. This is probably a stupid question, but hey oh...what are the handle-like things in the middle please?

Oi you lot, stop sniggering...
 

andersonec

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Google 'Woodwork bench plans' or 'Woodwork bench design' click on images an make your choice.

Andy
 
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