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Thread: Custom workbench

  1. #1
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    Default Custom workbench

    Hello,

    I want to build new English style workbench, something like in https://paulsellers.com/?s=workbench.
    What is your opinion about optimal or maximal length and width of the workbench for boat building.

    Regards,
    Jonas

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    For boat building? Make it the length of the longest wall in your shop.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Custom workbench


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    Depends on how big the boat is going to be...

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    Nick has it right.Don't skimp on the bracing beneath the bench either.You should also seek out a Record 52 1/2 vice.It always surprises me when I see hobby woodworkers thinking of building very old style benches with leg vices that don't have quick release mechanisms and a tail vice too.Not that the op is going that way,but I have never seen either of these features in British workshops.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    What kind of boat are you building and out of what materials or what method? The answers to these will drive your needs.


    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    Hi,
    I think about Gartside 16 ft Sailing Dinghy, Design #128 (https://store.gartsideboats.com/coll...ghy-design-128). May be something bigger after that, up to 7 m, plywood or wood hull.
    Jonas

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    Quote Originally Posted by JonasK View Post
    Hi,
    I think about Gartside 16 ft Sailing Dinghy, Design #128 (https://store.gartsideboats.com/coll...ghy-design-128). May be something bigger after that, up to 7 m, plywood or wood hull.
    Jonas
    Your bench needs to be longer than the longest component, in your case the mast or gaff and any rub rails gunwale or inwales, which will be longer than the boat as they go around the circumference of the sheer.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    I don't think it has to be that long.
    The mast and other long components can be handled on eg saw horses.
    That said, I would think that it is very rare that a boatbuilder ever wished s/he built a smaller workbench.

    /Mats
    My blog about my time as a boat building student, a rigger apprentice and Journeyman http://kaptenmohsart.blogspot.se/

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    I can make 2,5 m length dead flat - for most of the parts to make, then add an extension (from plywood or MDF) on fixed legs or saw horses for longer parts.
    Jonas
    Last edited by JonasK; 11-07-2018 at 05:47 AM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Your bench needs to be longer than the longest component, in your case the mast or gaff and any rub rails gunwale or inwales, which will be longer than the boat as they go around the circumference of the sheer.
    Naaahhh.

    At least not your everyday workbench. Making it slightly on the larger side is a good idea. You're building boats, not tiny boxes. But for 99% of the tasks, any of the standard designs, including the one in the OP, will serve quite well. Then there the auxiliary sorts of benches. For spars - you really need something as long and straight as you can arrange. But it doesn't have to be permanent. If you'll only build a few spars in your life, a knockdown arrangement makes more sense - in time, money, and dedicated shop space. Same with a shaving bench, for another. For some tasks - they are the cat's meow. But if you only will use one 5 times in your life... better to rig something temporary as required. Unless you've got a huge old shop and can afford to have lots of square footage eaten up with seldom-used setups.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    I went with just under 6ft from planning on 8ft. most woodworking benches are not that large.. one thing that is often overlooked by the "bigger is better" crowd is the easy way it is to work from both ends or either side of a smaller bench.. also benches against a wall serve well. but have limits. Like when trying to work on left right or right left oriented pieces of stock.
    Last edited by DeniseO30; 11-07-2018 at 12:58 PM.
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    OP - I use a workbench similar to the one you linked to in your first post. It's sometimes called a "Nicholson workbench" in internet woodworking circles. It's alright, but ime, the flat aprons are only nice if you are spending lots of time jointing the sides of planks. for lots of other applications they get in the way (like if you are trying to clamp workpieces to the bench w/o using a bench dog). they do produce a pretty stiff, rigid, workbench from cheaper thinner stock.

    It's easy and pretty cheap to make a long workbench for things like spars - just chop up plywood into a box section strongback frame.

    Quote Originally Posted by DeniseO30 View Post
    I went with just under 6ft from planning on 8ft. most woodworking benches are not that large.. one thing that is often overlooked by the "bigger is better" crowd is the easy way it is to work from both ends or either side of a smaller bench.. also benches against a wall serve well. but have limits. Like when trying to work on left right or right left oriented pieces of stock.
    Agreed. The other thing overlooked is big benches are easier to fill with junk. it's hard to work on a 5' or a 6' bench with junk on it. an 8' you can just push the stuff to the side... which is a bad habit to encourage.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    I like a nice long softwood bench, something I can drive nails and screws in, drill holes in and get glue and paint on that has a bit of overhang so I can clamp things to it's edge. It's heavy so it doesn't slide about when planing or draw knifing. It has storage shelves below and a good woodworking vice with softwood jaws.

    I have 2 of those, about 14 feet by 30 inches each against the wall, with enough space between the ends that the sliding compound miter saw can sit on a bench there at the right height to allow me to use the benches as support for the work.

    I also have a nice heavy 4 by 8 foot 3/4 ply assembly table framed with 2x4s and 2x6s which is very useful. Sometimes I screw a couple of 16 foot 2x4s on the table sides and put joists between them and legs at the ends so I can add another 8 feet of plywood. That's usually for lofting to a large scale, no need to bend over or creep around on the floor.

    Add to that 4 feet of 3/4 plywood outfeed table and 4 feet of table extension to the right on the table saw. I often use it as a work bench as well.
    Last edited by Gib Etheridge; 11-08-2018 at 12:31 AM.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    "Agreed. The other thing overlooked is big benches are easier to fill with junk. it's hard to work on a 5' or a 6' bench with junk on it. an 8' you can just push the stuff to the side... which is a bad habit to encourage." [/QUOTE]

    Put it against a wall and the odds and ends can be pushed back against the wall where they won't fall off, a wall with big horizontal windows and good overhead lighting for working nights and in the winter. Not a bad habit at all, y'ask me.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    Naaahhh.

    At least not your everyday workbench. Making it slightly on the larger side is a good idea. You're building boats, not tiny boxes. But for 99% of the tasks, any of the standard designs, including the one in the OP, will serve quite well. Then there the auxiliary sorts of benches. For spars - you really need something as long and straight as you can arrange. But it doesn't have to be permanent. If you'll only build a few spars in your life, a knockdown arrangement makes more sense - in time, money, and dedicated shop space. Same with a shaving bench, for another. For some tasks - they are the cat's meow. But if you only will use one 5 times in your life... better to rig something temporary as required. Unless you've got a huge old shop and can afford to have lots of square footage eaten up with seldom-used setups.
    Nice workbench!
    Some say, that tail vise is not important, because boards tend to bend under longitudinal pressure, better to have second side vise. What do you think?
    What vise type is most convenient?
    Regards,
    Jonas
    Last edited by JonasK; 11-08-2018 at 08:21 AM. Reason: Typo

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    I definitely use my tail vice, in conjunction with some bench dogs.

    For the side vice - having one is far better than not - but if I were building again, I'd probably do something spiffier. Find an old patternmaker's vice. Or maybe a leg-vice. And definitely a quick-adjust mechanism.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
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    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    For me most work surfaces are sacrificial. Permanent benches seem to take up precious room and quickly become cluttered when discipline lapses. I have relied on multiple matching saw horses and four benches of 2'X8' melamine on 2 by 4 ladder frames for boat building. These benches can be clamped side by side or end to end. They get set up where I need them then taken down. I don't hesitate driving screws, nail or staples into these benches and plastic protects them from the majority of paint and glue. The benches and vises pictured above are truly things of beauty but I would cringe to do them any harm. Large benches to me make more sense if they incorporate good storage space underneath. Enjoy planning your shop.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    https://www.google.com/search?q=tage...NbYL118r9RjUM:

    I built a workbench similar to this, about 6’ long and 20” wide. There is a row of wooden bench dogs that are angled to that when clamping a board down, you tap the dogs in with a mallet and the board is snugged down tight to the bench. I do a lot of handplaning and chisel work, so it was very important to me that there is no metal in the top, at all. I used 10/4 maple, so it is good and rugged. I keep a very simple bench slave made from scrap pine to jack up the ends of long stuff, or to hold up an end of a board or panel in the shoulder vise for edge work. One addition I highly recommend is an outlet mounted underneath, wired to an extension cord. The entire bench is very heavy, but I can drag it around by myself. I bought the screws for the two vices from Garret Wade in the mid-90’s, but I don’t know if they sell that kind of gear anymore.
    Last edited by John Husky; 11-08-2018 at 01:38 PM.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    I built one of Paul Seller's benches this summer.r In fact, there are still a few things I need to do to "finish" it off but it's been holding my work for a while now. I love it. I got a mid sized vise from Lee Valley, wish I had sprung for the largest one but I can always build another one. They were the first mortises I ever chopped too. The whole project is satisfying and the results are something I can use for years to come. I probably won't miss the larger vise but if I ever build another bench, I'll get the largest vise I can lay my hands on. As for how long to build it? I have a shop with 40 foot walls, one of which has a 32 foot bench built into it. I ripped two 4x8 sheets of MDF up the middle and slapped them down on a scrap 2x framwork then mounted old kitchen cupboards and drawers onto it. I have a long surface but I had no real workbench. The bench makes all the difference in the world, the long one while good for planing stock, it just a catchall for junk at this point. My Paul Sellers bench is 6 feet long and plenty stout. Have fun, it's a great project.
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    I've made a few benches. This is my last one and there's a thread here...


    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...ngs&highlight=


    I agree that having too big a bench attracts clutter on the portion not being used. Sawhorses and temporary supports will accommodate long pieces without giving over valuable shop space for the occasional long plank or spar.

    Off the wall is best, provided you have enough room, which is rarely the case. My ideal set-up is a woodworking bench about three or four feet away from a big table-bench, about four feet wide and six to eight feet long. The table is for layout, stacking parts, machining operations, assembly and so on.


    Last edited by Jim Ledger; 11-09-2018 at 09:47 AM.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    Beautiful workbenches. My neighbor gave my me and my father an 8' section of bowling alley lane. I believe it is maple. We installed it on a sheet of 3/4" plywood to stabilize it and mounted it both to the wall and on 4x4 legs. It isn't as beautiful as some of the benches shown above but it is strong. we installed a 4" Wilton bullet vice on one corner and a wood vice on the front, near the center.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    Quote Originally Posted by JonasK View Post
    Nice workbench!
    Some say, that tail vise is not important, because boards tend to bend under longitudinal pressure, better to have second side vise. What do you think?
    What vise type is most convenient?
    Regards,
    Jonas
    Jonas,
    I finished building an end vice (wagon vice) recently. I like it a lot. You’ve got to crank it hard to get most boards to bend. It needs very little force to just hold them in place and since you’re usually planing towards a dog you don’t need to torture it.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    Hello St.John,
    The wagon vice is a nice idea.
    Jonas

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    I like a long bench in a boatshop, if you have a wall to put it against. Sawhorses etc. work, but you have to set them up each time, they have to be flat and parallel to each other for long glueups, and not move around when you're trying to plane scarfs or whatever. The bench is always there and hopefully rugged and flat, with a couple vises and holdfasts, or whatever. Our 16' long bench handles a variety of tasks, with pieces up to 30' long.








  26. #26
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    Hi Jim,
    That's impressive workbench!. It has plywood top, right?
    Jonas

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    Yep, 2" thick multiply, with ash skirt boards.



    I had enough ash left over from building my joiner's bench to wrap the front and ends. Really stiffens it up.






    The vises on this bench are wonderful, particularly the leg vise. My tail vise is an old Columbian. I cheaped out on the vises on the boatshop bench. They are Shop Fox crap. For new vises, if you can't find an old Record quick release,the ones from lee Valley are pretty nice. http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/page.aspx?p=49980&cat=1,41659


  28. #28
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    Hi Jim,
    Excellent!
    When I was in China, I have bought vises, which they make for internal market. So far quality seems OK, well, how it works.

    Attachment 26531
    Jonas

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    I guess I kinda disagree with a lot of these posts. Having a long bench is nice, if you have the space. But otherwise it seems like the primary consideration should be not impeding the shop too much. Your bench should fit within the constraints of the space you work in. Besides that, I'm mildy skeptical how essential a bench is for boatbuilding, seems most of that happens under the boat. Not at the bench.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    This is a bench that is gaining popularity and suits my needs: https://woodandshop.com/moravianworkbench/
    Last edited by mdh; 11-17-2018 at 06:26 AM.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    If you are looking for a really cheap and simple to build bench then I can recommend a torsion box bench.

    I got the idea here: https://www.popularwoodworking.com/p...box-workbench/

    Here are some pics of mine: https://www.flickr.com/photos/angusb...57627446192182

    The benefits of this design are strength. It is totally rigid. No need for fancy joins.

    However, I have given mine away because I have realised that I only need a small bench. Most wood cutting I do outside. The bench was taking up a lot of space.
    I will build something more compact against the wall and then have something on wheels I can move in and out for working on larger stuff.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    How big is your shop, and do you plan on the bench being in a permanent spot? And is the shop your only work space or do you have room to set up outside? You may need more than one type of bench, as we did while building our Penobscot 14, and the tables we used the most turned out to be lower. And ask yourself, what most do you plan on using the bench for, it should be built to do that job. Build molds, cut frames, plank, make spars, feed tables etc are what you'll need work surfaces for.

    For bench measurements I would look at the ergonomics of common kitchen cabinets, we made our work bench about 36 inches high. For width we made it wide enough that we could reach across and grab tools on the far side or reach items on a wall, around 30 inches. Our space is 16x20, I made the bench long enough so I could fit it along one of the walls with tool trolleys, a table saw and a drill press, and move a car or other boat in if needed. We move the items in our shop around, the bench is on wheels as well in case I want to roll out outside for different projects or play shop TETRIS with different active or storage projects, so far it has not moved in about a year though.

    Cart and workbench.jpg

    Another thing you might need is cafeteria table size, this table followed us around on our Penobscot 14 from the backyard to the garage to the shop. It was small enough to drag around and move outside for sawing, routing, sanding, hold tools, etc...

    cafeteria table bench.jpg

    backyard boatbuilding.jpg

    2 card tables also proved useful, they fold up when not in use and I don't mind if I drill through them. They are better heights for cutting big pieces.

    card tables shop.jpg

    Looking forward to seeing what you build for your shop and your new boat!

    plans workench.jpg

    Cheers
    Kent
    Last edited by signalcharlie; 11-17-2018 at 09:19 AM.

  33. #33
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  34. #34
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    Here's a good reference with Sam Manning's illustrations.

    Landis, Scott. The Workbench Book: A Craftsman's Guide from the Publishers of Fine Woodworking (Craftsman's Guide to) (Kindle Locations 117-118). Taunton Press - A. Kindle Edition.

    And a video on the Manning benches mentioned from Geoff, builder of 50+ small boats: https://www.offcenterharbor.com/vide...nning-benches/

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Custom workbench

    I made a two-part, folding, hinged, swing-away, light-weight workbench for the first part of my 12' Passagemaker build. It consisted of one and a half sheets of 3/4" OSB. Each piece had its own 2x4 frame. It was attached to the wall with hinges and had swing-under legs at each corner. When not in use, it folded down against the wall. This arrangement worked out amazingly well for scarfing the sheets of plywood and cutting out the planks. Then when the hull was starting to take shape, it was easily moved out of the way.

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