I am somewhat new to woodworking and have been spending a lot of time
designing this bench. It will be permanent and attached to the garage
walls. This isnt a woodworking bench speciically (I will build one of
those later for the center of the garage) I would like to get some
feedback and suggestions on wood types and other possible
considerations for the construction. I want the wood to be heavy but
not too expensive (maybe cedar). The dimensions are 40" high and one
half of the L is 30" deep and the other is 24" deep. So far I think I
am about 90% done with the design and just trying to polish up the
engineering of the bench and details for wood stock and hardware. The
bench will be anchored to the wall via lag screws and cement fasteners
for the lower foundation section supports (the lower 2 feet of the
walls are cement foundation). Some of the sections I am not sure how
to fasten yet, but am working it out. I have looked at a ton of other
designs and photos so that is a big help.
So let me know what you all think - I would love to get some
suggestions if you have any. I can show any view needed with the top
removed or whatever in order to more fully explore the design. I may
also build some shelves in the sections below the bench top.
Its great to be here and I look forward to hearing your thoughts. BTW
the software I used for the design is Maya in case anyone wants to
Nice rendering. As someone else already mentioned - more drawers. You
could place two sets of drawers at the "L" and do away with the support
post. Drawers left and right. While only one drawer could be opened (left
or right side) the frame becomes the support for the bench. Also consider
adding a shelf below the bench and on top of that ledger board that is
attached to the wall.
My understanding is that a workbench should be a height that you can walk up
to and place your hands palms down on it with your arms fully extended. This
calculates to 35" for me. You might want to re-examine the 40" height. I'm
not saying change it, just make sure. You can see my new bench on
That is incomplete advise. That rule is for a traditional (neander) ww bench
for which you will wan to get your bod weight up on top of the workpiece
(e.g., hand planing). A taller bench can be much better for other types of
work. I believe that the OP stated that a traditional free standing bench
would come later.
Triple is overkill (remember this is not a traditional WW bench) but double
is nice. make sure that you have a ~2" overhang with the full bench
thickness. It's nice to be able to use that edge as a clamping space. If you
had (for instance) a 1" thick top with 3/4" thick by 2" apron/edge it would
make a lousy clamping surface.
I would move the metal vise to the left a bit and have it closer to right
over a leg.
What's with all the knee space? One "desk-like" space is nice to have, but
unless the other space is specifically reserved for the shop vac or a trash
can, I say: fill it all with drawers.
A few words on drawers.... don't make them all the same height. 2" of usable
depth is good enough for screw drivers and wrenches. 4" for hand drills,
more for things like routers. You will want a mix.
The top's going to get dinged up, glue, stains and other finishes
will get on it. SO - going with an easily replacable working
surface is something to keep in mind - 1/4" melamine or
masonite - screwed down - works pretty well. Flip it over
when one face gets too bad.. If you frame the top and use
a rabbet on top to hold the replacable working surface you're
less apt to chew up the edges of the melamline or masonite.
Round the otside edges and corners of the top "frame".
Sharp edges and corners hurt.
BTW - if you wax the working top semi-regularly, glue
and stuff won't stick to it.
Hang the cabinets/shelves off the wall rather than having
them sit on the bench top. Makes the top working surface
easier to replace. If you hang them with french cleats they
can be moved easier later if need be (you will re-arrange
things over time).
Go with adustable shelves rather than fixed shelves.
Wall space is always at a premium so consider doors
on the wall units and some of the peg board wall.
If the doors are 2-3" deep you can effectively almost
double your wall space storage capacity. If you go with
modular inserts you can re-arrange things as need be.
Doors also keep dust etc. off of the cabinet's contents.
Here's some stuff to consider
As for drawers, shallow drawers means more drawers AND
less digging down through layers to find what you want. Full
extension drawr glides also means less feeling around in
the back of the drawer. Also, holes in drawer faces let
things into the drawer you don't want in the drawer. Low
profile or partial insert drawer pulls would be preferable.
Mount the vise and the grinder on the ends of the bench top.
You want as much uninterupted bench top space as possible.
And if you're going to go with a metal vise, get one with
an anvil - that's handy.
Consider a power strip in or on/in the apron/stretchers or
the legs. Climbing under a bench to plug things in is a PITA
and power cords from the wall above the bench get in the
You're going to probably need task lighting. Some holes in
the bench top for a moveable flex or goose neck lamp could
come in handy
Just some things to think about
I go a step further; I periodically scrape off the glue, sand with a
ROS, buff with synthetic steel wool, apply 2 wiped-on coats of shellac.
Buff that with the SSW. Finally, I wax. That all may sound like a big
deal, but it doesn't take more than 6 or 7 minutes. (I don't need to
refinish the entire top; just the center section--the rest of the top is
obscured by tools.)
Nice work, Charlie! I built that very same cabinet (except I need to work
on the interior, so I'll be borrowing some of your ideas--I can give them
back when I'm done if you like). Like you, I too procrastinated on
installing the piano hinges. I think I know how I'd do it now, but it was
hard to do at the time. Finished it weighs a TON!
My first reaction was that the one fluorescent light wouldn't be enough.
Consider adding another over the right hand side as well.
- Owen -
There are some slick tricks for piano hinges
1. the reaily available ones (aka the less expensive ones)
don't close flat - out of the box. But if you put them
in a metal vise, with the hinge rod down flush with
the vise jaw tops and then squish them flat you
can fix that shortcoming
2. If you
-lay the cabinet on its back
- tape s piece of wood that's the same thickness
as the hinge to the side as a spacer
- block and shim up the door 'til its inside
edge is at the same height as the front edge
and up against the shim taped to the cabinet side
of the cabinet
- MAKE SURE THE TOP (or bottom) OF THE DOOR
LINES UP WITH THE BOTTOM OF THE CABINET
- clamp the door and cabinet together so they can't
- ovalize three of the holeson each side of the hinge
- the second down from the top, the second up from
the bottom and one towards the middle - will
give you a little (emphasis on "little") adjustment
- set the opened hinge in place, the hinge rod
side against the cabinet edge (should fit snug
in the space between the door and the cabinet)
- use a self centering VIX bit to drill pilot holes
for the ovalized locations of the screws
- put in six screws in the predrilled ovalized holes
- test the fit
- if need be, adjust the fit using only two of the
ovalized holes on either the door or the cabinet.
- test the fit again and, if need be, use two of
the ovalized holes in the cabinet or door, whichever
hasn't been tweeked yet.
- when you've got the fit you want, VIX the rest
of the holes and install the rest of the screws.
From the picture the OP referenced, the metal working vise appears to be
one that has a swivel base. I would further emphasize charlie b's advice
that the vise should be mounted at the end of the bench. There are times
when swiveling it 90 degrees is real handy.
Thanx again so much for all the suggestions...
The space under the bench will certainly be used for some shelves and
also room to roll the shop vac underneath. I also want to keep
enough spec underneath to prop my feet up and legs under when sitting
on a stool. I like to sit and work at the bench on a lot of small
projects like electronics and whatnot so I will mot likely make any
shelves underneath take up the back half of the space.
Llighting: I have been looking around at stores and such for a good
lighting solution beyond just a big florescent one. Maybe some
aimable spot type lights or something - any ideas?
Drawers - yes the drawer sizes arent decided upon yet but will most
likely be different sizes.
SO MANY THINGS TO THINK ABOUT...I might never get this design done.
Thanx again for everyones generous comments and ideas. Mucho
On Sun, 04 Dec 2005 15:02:16 GMT, firstname.lastname@example.org (realeyz) scribbled:
I don't know why you need all those lags on the bottom stretcher
against the wall, I don't think they will do much good. In fact, I
don't see why that bottom piece against the wall is needed at all. You
need to attach the stretcher under the bench top to the wall. A lag or
a couple of large wood screws at each stud should hold up the bench to
pretty much anything.
Also, consider not putting openings in the drawer fronts and use knobs
or handles instead. A lot of dust will get into your drawers instead
of just a bit. You need some kind of frame around the drawer sides to
attach the slides.
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