The Essential Workbench Article?


Hello,
I have been in the planning stages for building my woodworking bench for a few years now. I have purchased hard maple in both 4/4 and 8/4 in 8" and greater widths. I also secured a Lee Valley twin screw vice for the tail vise a couple of years ago. I have the Acorn Workbench plans and have read various workbench building articles over the last few years and checked out the sjobergs over at the local Woodcraft. I was already to start over the holidays.
Then I got my December copy of FWW and saw the picture of the Essential Workbench in the article about making the storage cabinets for it. I really like the look of it and would like to get more info. Anybody have a scanned copy or point me to a place where the article is archived? Or if you have the article, all I really want to know is a few dimensions - I know HOW I want to build the bench, just still a little unsure of the size. If you could post the length and width of the benchtop and particularly the thickness of the benchtop I would appreciate it. It looks like it probably has a skirt around the perimeter, but I want to know the actual thickness of the top, not the skirt.
Thanks in advance.
-jj
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You also may want to get ahold of the preceeding article (same author) about building the bench. I used this article and found it very worthwhile. It was sometime last year. Dave

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JJ, my scanner and I are fighting this morning (as usual), but here are the dimensions. The top slab is 26" X 73 3/8" X 2 1/2" thick. They cut dados in the boards before gluing up to make square dog holes 6" on center inclined 3 degrees toward the end vise. The end vise jaw is 6 5/8 tall X 27 3/8 wide X 3" thick. The bench has an apron all around 6" tall X 1 3/4" thick. Hope this helps
DonkeyHody
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DonkeyHody wrote:

DH,
Thanks for the info. Helps a lot. Didn't realize they incorporated square bench dog holes. The Acorn workbench incorporates square holes as well. I have decided to incorporate round holes and use Veritas round bench dogs. Not sure there is a great advantage or disadvantage of either, but it seems like round is easier.
-jj
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I was saving the magazine because I'm still obsessing over the choices for my own bench. Most of my big-ticket purchases have been driven by a "compelling" need. I usually have some project in mind that just can't be performed without the tool I want. So far, it hasn't worked for a bench. I have struggled along with a pair of B & D Workmates for many years, knowing a proper bench would make it easier. But I always manage to get by without one.
I bought one of the last big Record vises just as they were going out of business. It's still stashed away, waiting for a bench to put it on. I'm leaning heavily toward just buying Lee Valley's kit instead of building my own bench from scratch. Either way, I'll put a twin-screw vise across the end and my Record quick release on front. So many toys . . . so little money!
DonkeyHody
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DonkeyHody wrote:

Know what you mean about the "compelling need" bug. I just got rid of my Grizzly G1182HW 6" jointer, which was only a few years old, in order to upgrade to the new Grizzly G0582 so I can joint those long maple boards for the workbench. :)
I have a ShopFox 9" quick release on my current bench that I am going to recycle and use as the front vice on the new bench. I am also recycling the Shop Fox heavy duty leg set from my old workbench. I know these last 2 are an aesthetic departure from the traditional bench, but the vise works great and the legs are probably much sturdier than a wood base.
-jj
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For me the round bench dogs work so well that I cannot imagine going to the trouble of making square ones. I use 3/4 inch dowels with a step cut in the end grain to provide a flat surface. Friction prevents them from falling out. It is much easier to drill all the holes on the drill press than to try to do it after assembly of the bench.
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JJ:
The article on building the bench was in December '04 Tools & Shops issue of FWW. John Poole <jlpoole at sbcglobal.net> even created a cut list in Excel for the bench. If you can't reach him, let me know and I'll forward you a copy.
~Mark.
JJ wrote:

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JJ:
The article on building the bench was in December '04 Tools & Shops issue of FWW. John Poole <jlpoole at sbcglobal.net> even created a cut list in Excel for the bench. If you can't reach him, let me know and I'll forward you a copy.
~Mark.
JJ wrote:

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I built that bench, completing it last December (thus, it must have been 12/03 edition of FWW, not 12/04, or I'm thinking of a different bench). Of course "built that bench" is a little bit of a lie, cause much like recipes, plans are more guidelines to me than something to follow religiously.
I built the trestle nearly identically, except I made the stretchers longer (because the top is longer...) I think my stretchers are 54" between trestles vice 51" in the plans. I believe the plans have the trestles of all the same x-sect (3x3) except the base which 3.5 high to accommodate the cutout. My legs were 2.75x2.75 to create a reveal. pegged & wedged like the drawings though.
The height will depend on you & thickness of slab. I like a taller bench even though I'm short (5'8"), and I matched to my TS. The bench is 35.25" in my case at the top of the slab. My slab was 2.75" thick, about same as the article. What I did was ripped 8/4x6 hard maple in half and used the max thickness I could manage, ending up with a 2.75" slab. The aprons on mine are 7" wide, cut from 8/4 x 8 stock. The endcaps are doubled-up 8/4, as are the vice faces. Those are heavy pieces of wood. I didn't put an apron on the backside because I wanted to be able to reach under the top if something fell through and landed on the cabinet (yet to be built). If you run the apron all around you need gumby arms to get in between the upper stretchers, with a cabinet.
His bench was quite wide 27-30" IIRC. Mine is 24" because I have a narrow (13' shop) with a lathe and jointer in the area that make it even narrower. I made it 78" long, which was a little longer IIRC. Round dog holes not square 'cause I like the the LV stuff for benches. And they're easier. I put holes along the front apron and in the side of the end vice - allows a "bench-slave" like arrangement. I also mounted the front vice differently, following an idea from the 12/02 FWW to bury a regular quick action "record" vice (which I had) into the back of the apron so the apron is a continuous run - looks & works great. I also think that design had a tool tray, a feature I abhore as a space eating (damn narrow shop again) and worse, tool, dust and junk collection tray. But people who are more disciplined probably love them.
At any rate, I finally requested SWMBOs help, needed to flip the top over as the last step. And at nearly 7' long with the end vise, 2' wide, as thick as the top and aprons are, with two vices hanging on, that sucker was heavy. She looks at the bench after helping and complains that it is the nicest-looking piece of furniture in the house - and - it's a damn toolbench. Knows how to make me feel good ;-) As a relative newbie, it is my finest quality work. Although to the average joe my son's loft bed (which has a gorgeous curly maple veneer, cut by me out of a piece of $1.60 per bf pile of soft maple I bought, on the visible stretcher) looks better and has fancier joinery. Far fewer mistakes on the toolbench though. And it took me only about 4 weekends to build versus almost 4 years for the bed.
So if you're still reading after this incredibly long-winded non-answer to your question about "what are the friggin dimensions," my point is that I think a workbench is such a personal piece of furniture you want to fit it to you (and your shop), and not to some plans for some other guy. Take the good ideas (the base is really well designed imo, and worth copying) and combine other ideas (like using an existing vice an another workbench design) and end up with your bench.
Have fun
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snipped-for-privacy@adelphia.net wrote:

TA,
Thanks for the reply. Not longwinded at all. I like the idea of recessing the front vise into the apron. I will probably do likewise with my ShopFox quick release.
I may keep the main part of the benchtop under 20" so I can run it through my 20" planer after I glue it up to get it flat. With an 8/4 skirt all the way around, this will give me a bench width of about 23". My other option would be to glue up a wider bechtop in 2 panels and then edge gluing them after running the panels through the planer. I really wanted a 30" wide top so I may go with the latter option. Still thinking.
-jj
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My top will be 26-1/4" deep for 15 maple boards that are 8/4 stock (= 1.3/4") as thick (1-3/4" X 15 = 26-1/4")(no tool trough), each standing up and about 2" (or less) thick as the whole top. So, it'll be hand planed when it becomes whole. There will be 3 rows of dog holes (or two), 1" x 1" each, all hand sawed and chiseled out, each section of the two boards that make up the row will be individualy glued together, then integrated into the gang-gluing of the whole top, after. Still debating with myself about threaded rod for front to back. Charlie Belden did it with his "Das Bench"!
Remember to pay attention to the direction of the grain when gluing-up and then planing no matter how you do it, as I am right handed, it will be travelling up and toward the left, as I am facing the front of the bench. It all must* go in the same direction that way. Then, no chip-out.
I am a newby.
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Alex - "newbie_neander" woodworker
cravdraa_at-yahoo_dot-com
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nice gloat on the 20" planer there jj ...
I ran mine through the planer in two passes (15" planer). You will have no trouble lining up the two halves - no need to plane the top as a unit. Just use lots of cauls to keep them aligned. Remember, you can use the trestle as a caul. 3x3 maple doesn't flex regardless of how much pressure you use. You're going to have to line up the aprons any, and you can't run the whole top anyway. Good practice with a handplane if it happens anyway. I had to plane the aprons to match the top. Make sure the aprons are a tad higher rather than lower, the latter is much more work to bring to level. Make sure the aprons can slide on the end, I'd guess my bench moves a good 1/4" winter to summer.
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On 4 Dec 2005 10:12:29 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@adelphia.net wrote:
<snip for bevity>

Which States are you living and the direction the wood movement, thanks.
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snipped-for-privacy@adelphia.net wrote:

Aw shucks, that little old thing ..... :)

I figured on using a handplane for any final flattening required of the final top assembly. Also toyed with the idea of using a router with a 1-1/4" bit mounted in a jig that rides on temporary rails attached to the apron, if there is a lot of flattening to be done.
How did you attach the aprons to allow for movement?
-jj
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