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workshop, workspace


John_Jesseph

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My current bench is five feet long, which is just long enough for cello work. It's 18 inches to the back of the official top, which doesn't cramp me at all, and then I added a foot wide shelf at the back, continuous with the top, for junk. I don't think I'd want anything much smaller, though I could give up a bit of length in a pinch. My home shop is going to have a 45 inch top, by 16--that's the space I have spare--and I don't really know if it will work or not, but I won't use it much, probably.

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Rich,

Sorry for interrupting. I know you were addressing Seth.

You might be interested in the dimensions of my antique

maple bench since I know it is very old. I bought it at

auction probably 25 years ago for $75 as I recall.

Took it home and scrubbed it, then stripped all the old

paint spills and gave it a couple of coats of tung oil.

The top is 75 inches long plus 12 inches additional for the end vise (wood).

The width is 24 inches which includes a 7 inch tool tray along the rear.

On the left end there is another vise that projects out front from the top.

Square holes on the top for dogs to clamp wood in conjunction

with the end vise.

The bench top is 32 inches high, 2 1/2 inches thick and is

made of maple sections 2 1/4 inches in width.

There is a shelf under mounted between the legs, and a drawer in the

middle where I store some chisels and knives.

Similar versions are sold new in catalogs but they are quite expensive.

I think I would be afraid of scratching a new one!

Jimbow

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I'd like a top like that one Grizzly's offering, and the price is probably about as good as you'll find. I think 72" wide is a little much. I went "bigger is better" on my first workbench that I've since torn down. It was two layers of 3/4" MDF glued and screwed together, mounted on a frame of 2x4s. It was huge. It was over 4' deep and around 6' wide. It took up a major chunk of available floorspace in my attic. I ended up tearing it down and I'm glad I did. In its place I've got this 2' deep by 4' long pine workbench and a whole lot of empty space. I think I'd like to make one bench for carving on, and have another for clamping stuff on. I'd like lots of small drawers for things, and to build a rack for gouges and chisels.

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I built a workbench as one of my first cabinetmaking projects. I think it was Tage Frid's design. I had a lot of 8/4 cherry, but no 8/4 maple, so my bench is made of cherry. It's worked pretty well for 20 years. Although it's a cabinetmakers bench, it's fine for instruments.

I also bought a Sjoberg's benchtop and legs from the local Woodcraft store. For $250 it's a good 5' bench with two vises, bench dogs and a holdfast attachment. Really a great deal if you can't afford an Ulmia bench (what violinmaker can? :>) )

I noticed that Jeffrey has the $5 plywood finger-jointed drawer boxes from Ikea. Those are really handy for storing parts. I bought one 2 years ago, and another just afew months ago. I noticed that the quality has slipped dramatically. But what do you expect for 5 bucks...

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I read somewhere that a good bench height is one that puts the top even with the crease on the inside of your wrist. One of my benches is that height, and it works well for working while standing.


Interesting Kevin... I got there by trial & error and then built the legs. That's exactly where the the height of my bench meets my wrist... If I had known that before I could have saved a day or two!

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I also bought a Sjoberg's benchtop and legs from the local Woodcraft store. For $250 it's a good 5' bench with two vises, bench dogs and a holdfast attachment. Really a great deal if you can't afford an Ulmia bench (what violinmaker can? :>) )

I noticed that Jeffrey has the $5 plywood finger-jointed drawer boxes from Ikea. Those are really handy for storing parts. I bought one 2 years ago, and another just afew months ago. I noticed that the quality has slipped dramatically. But what do you expect for 5 bucks...


Well... The Ulmia benches are a splurge, but other than the backache I got unloading the thing from the truck, I've never been sad I spent the money.

Love Ikea for cheap storage solutions... I noticed how well the stuff worked for Andreas Woywood in his London shop a good number of years ago, so I've been a customer ever since. There is a heavier version of the finger joined boxes (solid wood, not plywood) that is deep enough to hold string packages (standing up!) available. My wife nabbed me a couple when she was in Chicago a few weeks ago.

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I did some searching on "butcher block" and came up with this interesting offer:

http://www.lumberliquidators.com/cart/inde...amp;iProduct=96

It's 8 feet of 1.5" thick by 25" deep butcherblock. That would make two 4' long workbenches, at only 90-something dollars plus shipping each. It's unfinished, so you'd want to sand (or plane and scrape) it and finish it with something quickly so it wouldn't warp. This sounds like it would rock, though, for someone wanting to make their own workbench.

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Yeah. Although I'd probably use tung oil or maybe linseed oil or something like that for a workbench. I'd definitely want to use something that could be retouched by simply a light sanding and application of more of the same. That's one of the off-putting things about workbench surfaces like the one Grizzly is selling, which is finished with Zeus only knows what (what was that again, Durakryl?).

I have a Popular Mechanics issue from last November that the receptionist at the Nissan dealership let me take when they announced my mirror replacement was done (kids and a snowball fight...) and I'd just started reading an article about building a workbench and didn't want to go. In the article they'd finished their workbench with tung oil, and it seems perfectly reasonable to me. What's Danish Oil by the way? I've read of it being a good finish for these sorts of things too.

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Wow, I was going to log on this morning and ask about workbenches, but now I don't need to!!

I have a german cabinet maker's bench, but being the contrarian that I am, I am probably going to replace it. I think I will start with a poplar-top bench, styled like what they use at Colonial Williamsburg, based on the old Nicholson book. Their benches have a single wood-screw face vice, and are made of hardwood. I have heard several people recommend softwood for luthery benchtops, and I have two ten foot 20 inch wide 8/4 poplar boards sitting on my shop floor.

Seth (assuming your question was not just rhetorical), Danish Oil is a generic term for oil-varnish mix, usually proprietary mixtures like Watco Danish Oil. Kind of soft, and doesn't build well. I would use Waterlox Original for a benchtop, has a much higher solids content and builds faster. Basically a wipe-on finish. True-Oil, a gunstock finish some people use for guitars and mandolins, is another example of propietary oil/varnish. Joe Robson makes violin varnishes, and also makes Tried and True brand finishes. One finish he makes is a "Danish Oil" which is basically only cooked linseed oil and modified pine resin, very non toxic but also slow building.

Now I need to go back and read up on everyone's workbench posts...

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I used to get a really nice finish with Watco (Danish Oil), applied directly to the wood from the can and then sanded with 600 wet-dry paper. It filled the wood pores and eventually left a very smooth satin finish. There really was no build at all. But it was very easy to retouch and repair--just do it again.

I'd do linseed oil well waxed after drying if I were building a bench today, I think.

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I'm actually about to drive over to the Lumber Liquidators in Manchester and buy an 8' butcherblock countertop. I'm just waiting a few more minutes for my 18v battery to get more charge, so I can bring my cordless Makita circular saw and cut this thing in half. I am planning on making my bench 4' wide anyhow.

I guess I should get some boiled linseed oil from Home Depot then, eh? The only linseed oil I have right now is raw linseed oil for my varnish experiments. I assume boiled linseed oil will actually dry on a workbench without having to be exposed to UV light, right?

Secondly, any of you in southern NH or nothern Mass want to buy the other 4' of this benchtop? Since I'm going to get it there won't be any shipping, it would be like $92 or so.

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Do you really need to put finishing on the workbench?

I saw a demo at woodworking show. The carpenter is quite picky about a true flat workbench. He said that he planes his workbench and check for flatness seasonaly. Is this necessary? Does the wood change that much from season to season?

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Seth- don't forget, though, you're going to have to lug that "no-shipping cost" piece of butcher-block across the country! Another alternative, for those who want a softwood top: I did a couple of tops with pine/fir sheets from Home Depot that come glued-up like butcher-block (not with end-grain up). It's cheap & easy, but needs to have some underlayment too, as it's only 3/4". BTW, everyone should know that you only apply VEGETABLE oil to buther-blocks. Ron.

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