Workbench depth and height?

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Workbench against the wall... Ideal depth from the wall? Ideal height from the ground?
(Understanding there is no "ideal.")
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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1. Typical counter height is 30 inches. - If you are tall or short and primary/only user you might want to adjust that - The only reason to go much lower than 30" is for a final assembly or finishing table and only if that is primary or only use.
2. I think wider is better if there is no space issue. You can squeeze by at 18" deep, do fine with 24" and 36" deep is starting to get too deep for practical need for an up against the wall setup. 30" might be ideal if space is no issue.
All opinions coming from experience of at least a dozen variations I've built and used over the years at differnt locations.

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My workbench is 36" or so tall. I like 24" to 30" deep for a wall bench. My free standing workbench is 36" tall X 38" wide X 84" long. I do have final assembly saw horses 24" or so tall also.
RP
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Lee's Golden Rules of Workbench Design
1) Size is determined by how much space you have. Ideally, you can walk around it. If you have to put it against a wall, you need a side or two of access to the bench. You should be able to easily reach across the bench.
2) It must have a solid top. It must be able to withstand cuts, holes and other general abuse. Any bench that is used to any degree has a distressed top. If it is too pretty, it means it was not used for anything. I have used various laminated wood tops, layers of plywood and covered tops with hardboard. They all served their purpose. Remember, no matter how ugly your bench top gets, you can always refresh or renew it in some fashion.
3) It must be solid and sturdy. If it wobbles or sways, it ain't a bench. Benches, by definition, are solid, substantial work platforms.
4) It should have some kind of storage underneath. Whether it is drawers, shelves, cabinets or whatever, under bench real estate is valuable. Put it to good use.
5) Any woodworking bench should have a vise and bench stop holes. Make sure the vice has some way of anchoring the wood on one end when using the bench stops.
6) And bench or work area should have easy access to electricity. I have screwed a surge protector to benches before. I like outlets wired just above bench height to plug in tools right at the work surface area. I have had a couple benches that had electrical outlets installed in the benches themselves.
7) Lighting is essential. This is an extension of the above rule. One thing I do is to have some clamp on lights and some elbow lamps. I will stick the elbow lamps into the bench stop holes. This puts light directly where I want it. As you get older, your tolerance (or ability) to working in low light situations decrease.
8) The height should be determined by both your height and your intended uses. Or perhaps the best height is just what is most comfortable to you. I have cut the legs off of benches before. I have also put blocks under benches as well. Find something that works for you. I think in terms of sanding, drill and planeing wood. An inch or two under my waist height works for me.
9) Leave a space underneath the top. I saw this idea on a fancy commercial model and instantly incorporated in into everything I built since. Just leave a space of about eight inches or so directly underneath the top of the bench. You can stash all kinds of tool underneath there when working. This leaves the top free. This actually increases your available workspace.
10) Make the bench fit the space. Both in terms of size and function. We all do different things in our shops. Make it fit your needs. some people make the bench the same height as their table saw. I have seen various stands and tool carts around the bench. This frees up bench top space. A bench covered with crap is just a junk pile. It ain't a bench. (Wives hate any kind of clean, horizontal space. They will take any workspace and convert it into a junk pile.) Make the bench functional. Make it your own. Remember, nobody can make anything to fit you better than you.
Happy bench building,
Lee
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On 10/26/2011 7:33 PM, Lee Michaels wrote:

My work bench is on wheels so it can be used as an auxilary bench for the table saw or as an out feed when ripping on the saw.
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On 10/26/11 6:33 PM, Lee Michaels wrote:

There. That would've kept me from reading that book about stuff I didn't ask. :-p
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-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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On 10/26/2011 6:33 PM, Lee Michaels wrote:

Ditto ... you need to join us on G+
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Last update: 4/15/2010
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On 10/26/2011 6:08 PM, -MIKE- wrote:

My bench top is 30" deep and 37" high. I'm 6'2" and the size has been ideal for me for 36 years. I guess the height could be adjusted some depending on your height.
--
Jack
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If you are going to do a lot of hand tool work - planing, chiseling, etc, consider making just a bit higher than the height of the palm of your hand parallel to the floor with your arm at rest by your side. For planing in particular that height allows you to "get your back into it".
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-MIKE- wrote:

Height: standing? sitting? For standing, sufficient to work at without bending more than minimally
Depth: as deep as possible and still let you reach stuff. The higher the counter, the less depth; for example, if a bench/counter were chest high the depth couldn't be much more than the length of your arm from armpit to wrist.
Conventions: kitchen counter, 36" high, 25" wide lavatory, 30-32" high, 16-24" wide desk, 28-30" high, 24-36" wide
My experiences
I find 36" too low for kitchen counters, made all of ours 37 1/2. I'm 5'8", wife is 5'2" and that height is good for both of us.
Lavatories of 30-32" high are an abomination IMO, made ours 37 1/2 too. We no longer have to bend but the bowl needs to be as far forward as possible.
All my shop work tables/benches are also 37 1/2. Like you, I have a table against a wall; it is 24" deep, 72" wide and has 3 tiers of drawers; all drawers on the same level are the same height so I can pull out drawers and stash stuff on them temporarily...freshly painted boards, for example.
I also have two tables that are 37 1/2 x 48 x 12. Each has provision for storing clamps. I do most of my work on them, all my assembly. Each is on casters so I can move them to have a 12 x 96 or 48 x 48 contiguous surface. I can also move them to use them in conjunction with other tables/benches.
Next time I make a pair, I'm going to rig a way to vary the height of the working surface...perhaps just by flopping the table 90 degrees, perhaps by having the tops adjustable vertically. Probably the latter. In either case, I'll have to build something else for clamps, been meaning to do it anyway :)
I have a couple of pieces of low loop commercial carpet that I put on the tables when sanding; helps keep stuff from slipping and also from being dented by a wood chip or any other way. The next tables will also incorporate a roller under the top to store the pieces of carpet. There will also be rollers for pieces of visqueen so I can cover the laminate tops when gluing.
--

dadiOH
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On 10/27/11 7:17 AM, dadiOH wrote:

What about lying on the ground. I think we need to cover that. :-p
Thanks... I'm leaning towards higher than lower. And I agree with you about vanities.
--

-MIKE-

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My workbench is based on an idea in Popular Science or maybe Popular Mechanics from the early 60s. It is 37" high, and 48 inches square, unusual I know, but it gives me 4 sides that I can work on, and a lot of bench room for bulky stuff. Under it are 2 banks of drawers and 2 cupboards with 4 sets of shelves between the drawers and cupboards. There is also 4 electric outlets, one on each side. It has worked well for me for 35 years. It knocks down for moving so it will fit through a door.
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In "Record's" book on planes etc., (I wish I had the original but it was borrowed from the library and bits photocopied) it recomends a height of 2'6" to 2'8" depending on the worker. It really depends on what you find comfortable. I am 5'8" and my bench is 2'8", I find it a comfortable working height.
Front to back they recomend 2' minimum, 2'9" a "useful" width.
The front board of the top should be of 2 to 2.1/2" well seasoned Birch or Beech, 12" or so wide. The back part of the top, which forms the well, can be of red deal 1" thick.
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Stuart Winsor

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wrote:

What is "red deal", Stuart?
-- Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace. -- Robert J. Sawyer
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I am quoting from the book but I believe it is also known as Scots pine
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots_Pine
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Stuart Winsor

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wrote:

Huh! I've heard the term before, once or twice, but never found out what it is until now. Thanks.
Pineywood is pineywood to me.
-- Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace. -- Robert J. Sawyer
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I've found my table saw height to be quite effective for a bench (it's really an infeed table that gets used as a bench...)
Reach in distance should be no more than 30". If you've got an old door available, you could mock up a bench using that.
Puckdropper
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Really depends on what you're going to do with it. If used for gluing or assembly of furniture, place it in the center of the shop.

Center of room, or at least 3' from wall.

From standing height, you should be able to place your flat palm on the bench. For planing, make it a bit higher, for assembly, a bit lower.
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I'll tell you what I have. Free standing bench, access from all sides, can walk completely around it. 2 feet and one half inch wide. 7 feet and two inches long. 38 inches high. Bit high for hand planing. Good for power tool work since the work is up in the air. Haven't put the drawers underneath yet.

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Indeed. Japanese workbench = pair of 6 x 6's. Appropriate "vise" = the carpenter's feet.
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