workbench dimensions


I see that many workbenches are about 24 inches wide. Some are 21 wide. Since I am planning to build one what size is better of is it simple to say "bigger is better" and go with a big as practical?
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"R. Pierce Butler" wrote in message

say
Keep in mind that the ability to clamp a glue-up from both sides of a bench, or to a bench on both sides, can be the difference between success and failure, so don't put too much faith in "bigger is better" when it comes to workbench widths.
You will be much happier if you can quantify the type of projects you will normally do and size your workbench accordingly.
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www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 8/29/06
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Swing's right (again). I use my bench for lots of things, but as a big clamping assembly, it needs to be the 'right' size. Since much of my work is largish cabinets and furniture, mine is 30" wide, and works for me. If I needed a smaller bench, I'd have to build a second one.
Of course, I'd have to have more room in the shop, too.
Patriarch
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wrote:

Just as a point of reference, I'm guessing that what you call wide, I call deep... as in 6' long and 30" deep?
IMHO, the first 2 considerations for most home woodworkers is space available for the bench and budget..
Some folks like the bench accessible on both sides, some want the bench against a wall... depends a lot on space and what you build, I think...
My bench is 72" x 30" and made that size because I thought that having it in the middle of the garage and accessible from both sides would work well...
In reality, I only work from one side, the side towards my power tools, and the last 6" or 8" of the other side is just a shit collector... it got so bad that I had to put a 2x6" on the back to keep stuff from falling off the other side..
In the new shop, knowing my work habits, both benches will be against walls with cabinets over the back... I know it won't really work, but the fiction is that if the cabinet makes the bench a bit less deep and I have a handy place to put things, the bench won't get cluttered... (yeah, right)
OTOH, If my arms were a foot longer, or I did a lot of sheet good work, I might want a 48" deep table... *g* Mac
https://home.comcast.net/~mac.davis https://home.comcast.net/~mac.davis/wood_stuff.htm
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Good question, but more is data is required.
Is it accessible from both sides or up against a wall?
What will it be used for? traditional hand-work between dogs? or assembly? Both?
FWIW, I have a traditional bench which, whose primary purpose is traditional handwork. It's 24" wide. I just about never use the full width . I would probably go for 22 if I were to di it again.
YMMV,
Steve
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I have two.
The main one is gigantic and heavy, 3 feet by 7 feet. Probably weighs close to 400 lbs with the iron from the vises and the stuff on the shelves. I use it on all four sides. Each side has a special use. The face-vise side, the tail-vise side, the long no-vise side, and the side with the face vise on edge (good for a wide planing stop). I have to lean over a bit to plane down the middle of a long board across the width of the table (if it happens to be part of an assembly, otherwise I just approach boards from the back, along the face of the bench) but frankly leaning over is not much work when I am handplaning anyway, since it is exercise to begin with.
The other one is for assembly and finishing. It's top is just a solid-core door 6'8x30" and is dead flat. Easy to access both sides of something when you need to act fast while the glue is setting.
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When I was growing up my highschool had 5' x 9' butcher block benches with a wood vise on every corner. Those were the best benches I ever worked on. My bench is 10' x 30" made out of fir tounge & grove flooring with hardboard on top. I wish it were a little flatter! How wide of a planer or wide belt sander can you gain access to?
Andrew Williams wrote:

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Speaking of butcher block i was wondering if I should make mine in butcherblock fashion meaning the endgrain is the work surface. There seems to be two ways to position the wood.
Any recommendations?
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I flattened the top by building it in 4 sections and running them through my router planing jig. After all 4 were completed I connected them with threaded rods and then handplaned the surface to as flat as I could get it.
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Mine is against the wall and is 30" wide. I use the back section to hold some small drawers and a couple of parts bins. That brings the usable space down to about 22" or so and is sufficient for most everything I've done. Wider would be a PITA to reach over to get things hung on the wall over the bench.
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R. Pierce Butler wrote:

SHORT VERSION Have posted a drawing of a bench base that you can easily build using 2x4s, 2x6s, ply and some all thread, washers and nuts in alt.binaries.pictures.woodworking
A woodworking bench has two main functions - to act as a versatile giant clamp and as a flat reference surface/assembly surface/ solid surface to pound/ hack and hew on things sitting on it.
On the other hand, a layout /assembly bench, while sharing the woodworking bench's flat reference surface / assembly surface, doesn't need to act a a versatile giant clamp. It may also be used as a finishing platform.
Then there's the "hybrid" which has some of the features of both but, as is often the case with multi-function things, does neither function as well as a dedicated bench.
That said, it's ironic that it's much easier to build a real woodworking bench - IF you already have a real woodworking bench. You can make a real woodworking bench using a hybrid bench - and most of us who've made a real woodworking bench built it on a hybrid.
As for "the bigger the better" - that was the advice a cabinet maker friend suggested when I first got into woodworking. Of course, he only makes ply and face frame stuff and works with 4x8 sheet goods primarily. SO - my first bench was 4' 3" x 7' 6", including the 2x6 apron. Top's 2 layers of glued and screwed 1 1/8" ply with replacable 1/4" melamine top layer which got waxed regularly to keep glue - and finishes - from sticking to it.
But a big bench has lots of hidden disadvantages. First, you have to walk around it to get to other things in the shop. Second, being a large flat surface - above floor level - it collects crap at an astounding rate. Third, it encourages not finishing things. My old bench has two of one of my sons' projects occupying most of it. One of those projects is cose to two years old and the other is going on 6 months. (though the pictures on this page illustrate my point, this is just one on the many configurations of crap that has accumulated on this bench)
http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/WorkAssemblyBench.html
Fourth - the tool you need to get immediately - while you're holding some parts together - will invariably be on the far side of the bench relative to where you're standing. Unless you've got orangutan arms, that's a problem.
AS for something on which to assembly a piece - well if you think about it, not much you're going to make is much deeper (front to back) than 24" and seldom wider than 6 feet. And you can always through a sheet of 4x8 ply or MDF on a real woodworking bench if needed.
For a first quick and dirty I'd go with 3x6 and put on a face and end vise.
When you get to making a real woodworking bench - get, and study, both Scott Landis's book as well as Sam Allen's book on workbenches.
Hope this helps and enjoy woodworking.
charlie b
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Thanks for the tips all.
To be honest I was thinking something like 26-32 inches deep and 5-6 ft wide and you have confirmed that.
Thanks for the book tips Charlie. I will order them tomorrow.
Pierce
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