Designing a work table

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I need to build a table to mount a machinist vise and for sharpening (a table to to "boot from" in computer parlance). My "Work-Mate" is not suitable for those things. I started-out with a design incorporating M&T joinery, and then I got more realistic.
I just finished a design I put on my web site to share: http://web.newsguy.com/MySite /
I plan to use SYP for the top--in fact, that was my starting point. One thing I'm still not decided on is how to attach the 2by4's on each end to the 4by4 legs. Nailing an extra piece of 2by4 to left and right side of each joint, like a bandaid, would probably work (but is surely "pitiful" technique).
By the way, it may look a little unorthodox, but I put the strechers on the inside to buy myself a little leg room. I'm not actually sure whether the 3 1/2 inches will really make much difference. Also, in my current design, all assembly is done with nails.
I'd welcome any comments anyone would care to provide.
Cheers! Bill
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Make it a little wider, say 26-28". That way, if you build a piece 2'x4' it will fit on the table easily. I'm going to have to extend the top of my workbench a bit for that exact reason... The width was good, but the length was exactly 48".
You may want to consider making the bottom support a shelf or cabinet. Not only will it add some rigidity, but you'll gain some storage space.
Instead of putting the supports inside the legs, consider making the base a little smaller than the top. That way, you'll have clamping space around the entire top (near the edges) and you'll get the knee space you desire. At 37" tall, you'll want to stand to use the bench, so it's probably more important to make room for your feet.
Puckdropper
--
Make it to fit, don't make it fit.

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On 5/4/2012 2:05 AM, Puckdropper wrote:

if you put in a shelf, you can forgo the front brace. if you put in two shelves (brace the bottom of the legs with 2x4s on edge, and use the top of them for another shelf, make the middle shelf be only 1/2 the depth. that lets you put tall things in front, gives you 1.5x the shelf space, and you can get your knees under it easier.

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On 5/4/2012 9:48 AM, chaniarts wrote:

oh, and mount double gang electrical boxes at each end on the top inside of the legs. this gets cords off the surface of the bench.
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I noticed distinct similarities between your proposed design and my mostly finished reality. I plan turning the bottom of the bench into a cabinet to try to keep some of the dust off my less-used tools. The big thing on top isn't part of the bench, it's a project. ;-)
http://www.puckdroppersplace.us/other/bench.jpg
A couple things to note: 1) The bench top is designed to allow for clamping. It's at least two inches larger than the base for that reason. 2) The drawer height is designed to allow an item to remain clamped to the top while the drawer is opened. 3) The drawers open from either end (convenient!) 4) The legs are just 1x material. They are two pieces joined at a right angle, which allowed installation of the shelf and drawer box.
Puckdropper
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Bill wrote:

I would put the upper cross pieces on the side of the legs rather than on top. Nailing into the end grain of the legs will not hold as well.
--
G.W. Ross

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A lot of good suggestions that I'll agree with 1 top cross pieces on sides of legs 2 notch legs to inset stretchers 3 top should overhang on all 4 sides 4 use screws or bolts - nails back out easier
Another thing you you might want to consider is two feet. I connected the legs of my bench at the bottom with a foot. Helps prevent racking. Makes it easier to level. Makes it easier to move. You msy not plan on it now but at some point you'll put something in that vise to bend or beat on and you want the bench stable.
http://www.swigerwoodworks.com/images/Workbench_011.jpg
(not mine)
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Limp Arbor wrote:

I built both of mine similar but no overhang in back--I screwed the back legs to the wall. No racking or shaking.
--
G.W. Ross

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Bill wrote:

It's a work table. You need 4x4 legs like a hole in the head but hey, it's your table, use 'em if you want 'em. Nail/screw 2x4s to them all the way around at the top, ditto at bottom if you feel the need for stretchers. Fasten on top. Done. If you do use 4x4 legs, I'd cut out 1/2 so 2x4s sit flush to them.
--

dadiOH
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I always recommend a shelf a few inches under the top. This creates a space where you can put tools that can be easily accessed when working. And gets them out of the way when you don't need them. I have that on my primary shop bench and it has been a super time saver and organizer. Then put one or two more shelves under there. You can never have too many shelves or storage space in a shop.
Make the bench sturdy. One way to do this is to simply make it heavier. Use heavier materials and stack stuff on the shelves. The heavier it is, the more stable of a work surface that you will have. Particularly important if mounting a vise on the bench.
Wimpy, light weight benches are mostly useless. Be a man! Be macho! Don't build a pussy bench! And if you want to make it a bit stronger, use some construction adhesive where possible. Nails are OK. I would personally use screws. I built a lot of things with glue and screws. Some of those things are still going strong after 30 years.
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Lee Michaels wrote:

Don't worry, this is just a small bench to help me build my main bench! Though I think it will end up being quite useful in it's own right. However with all of the fine suggestions I've received, it's picking up a lot of weight and structural integrity!

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Hey, that would have been good practice. For S&G, I used a dovetail in my flat panel rack which is made out of the finest tubaeight SPF. http://tinyurl.com/84x69kn

Joint and glue the sticks together, or tack/glue a piece of hardboard on top. Flat tops with no holes/slats are nice to have in the shop.

Countersunk lag bolts, of course.

The added benefit is that your shelf will not sag with 4 supported edges. Consider lagging angle iron to the legs and mounting that to the cement with screws. You want to be able to do real WORK in the vise on this bench, right? And with that in mind, add some diagonal 1x4s from bottom of back leg to top of front leg, and one across the back legs. This will take out any instability when you're bending metal, planing, or workin' heavy in the vise.

Egad! Silly heathen. Countersunk lag bolts and washers are much more sturdy, and they're removable for easy replacement if necessary.

Rag a coat or two of your favorite finish on it before you start work. It keeps the bench looking newer longer.
-- Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. -- Dr. David M. Burns
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On 5/4/2012 3:28 AM, Bill wrote:

I like it!
And, except for the top on mine (which is interchangeable) it's very similar in design to the one I've been using for the past ten years or so:
http://www.e-woodshop.net/images/Bench.jpg
As Lee rightfully stated about making it heavy, simply do what I did:
Double up on the four legs, AND mimic the bottom aprons/stretchers on the top ... this will add the mass you need for vise work (also making the inner legs a bit shorter makes it easy to shim to keep it from rocking on an uneven surface), and the added structure at the top gives it extra mass, rigidity, and allow more flexibility for changing the top in the future.
Besides that, the design is flexible enough to allow for evolution in use. Mine has evolved over the years to this:
https://picasaweb.google.com/111355467778981859077/EWoodShopRetrofit2011#5625196966540508658
And I would use screws, not nails, for your "joinery". :)
Good use of Sketchup also, Bill!
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I like this bench design. Where did you get the basic plan?
MJ
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Swingman replied:

It took me a few more hours of screwing around (I mean "designing") to realize that you got that apron/stretcher part "just right"--and you got a perfect place for a shelf/table as a bonus.
My new diagram (not posted) looked like crap until I recalled the picture you posted above, and adjusted my front and back and side strechers to the same height(s).
I'm curious why you choice to use doubled-up 2by4s for legs instead of 4by4s? Please explain your rationale if you don't mind.
Thanks, Bill
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On 5/7/2012 6:05 AM, Bill wrote:

A frugal concept, called "materials on hand". :)
That, and, as described above, to make it easier to shim the work table on an uneven surface, which was important at the time since the original floor of the shop, being a 1940's garage, had a pronounced crown.
There is no reason not to use 4x4's for the legs if you have them on hand.
At the time I was looking for something easy and quick to fabricate with materials on hand, inexpensive, extremely sturdy, and highly flexible in configuration with regard to installing different tops, drawers, etc in the future ... it is neither traditional, nor pretty, but it is highly functional and has provided all those elements in spades.
I've been using it daily for over ten years and would not change a thing ... although I keep thinking that one of these days I'll glue up an extra, interchangeable top of thick maple, something a bit less wide and more traditional for use with hand tools. (the top is currently mounted with cleats and screws to the top aprons).
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On 5/7/2012 6:05 AM, Bill wrote:

FWIW, here is a Sketchup model/dimensioned drawing of the frame and top of my current work bench on Google's 3D Warehouse:
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid f221ff13bc0b01b2c2cd006d206129&prevstart=0
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Bill asked:

Swingman wrote:

http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid f221ff13bc0b01b2c2cd006d206129&prevstart=0
Nice work! When I looked at the photograph you posted earlier, my mind saw an overlapping joint at the apron. Looking again, after looking at your drawing, I see it was an illusion. There is elegance in simplicity too.
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On 5/7/2012 2:54 PM, Bill wrote:

http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid f221ff13bc0b01b2c2cd006d206129&prevstart=0

That particular design is stupid simple, but it works for me. And it costs what, less than $50 for the bench frame and can be built in a couple of hours? Add a top and shelf, and still less than $100.
AAMOF, I'd have two if the space were available. :)
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Swingman wrote:

http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid f221ff13bc0b01b2c2cd006d206129&prevstart=0
I plan to use my proposed one to help subtly reclaim square-footage that has been overtaken by squatters!
(I forgot who I am borrowing the last expression from, but I like it).

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