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Thread: Workbench Design Question

  1. #1
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    Workbench Design Question

    As I read about workbench design, there's one thing I don't understand. Many (most) of the current designs call for a long narrow table, sometimes only 2' wide. How in the world do those folks handle a sheet of plywood on such a narrow table?
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  2. #2
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    A workbench needs to be whatever YOU need, not what someone else thinks you need. I don't have a "classic" workbench but I seem to muddle through and get things done. In my case, I wanted the ability to lay a full sheet beside my table saw and slide it over to make my cuts, so that's how I designed my workbench.

    To answer your specific question about sheet goods, some people place a sheet on sawhorses to cut it down to smaller sizes. Some lay it on styrofoam on the floor - whatever it takes to break down the sheet goods.
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  3. #3
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    Cynthia,
    the 2' depth is more about most people's reach... anything deeper and you wind up with clutter just 'out of reach'... DAMHIKT, my benches are 30" or so deep, but I have longer arms and I still get clutter toward the back of them. er, actually I get clutter on all of it... might have something to do with how I work, not the depth of the bench.
    -Ned

  4. #4
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    Your classic hand tool bench is narrow. I am working with solid wood and really only need about 12 inches at most of depth. If your intent is to work with plywood, then you would need a large work table to support your work. Remember, the benches purpose is to support the work. If the work is large then you need a larger table. Kind of common sense when you think about it in those terms.
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  5. #5
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    Good point Bill. about three shops ago, I had the luxury of a shop large enough to have a central outfeed/work table in the middle of the shop, it was about 4' x 6' and was right next to the heart of the shop (the TS)... we did all manner of assembly, finishing etc... on it, but we also had nearly 30'x30' of space to work with. my last shop... and my current 'shop'... I broke down sheet goods outside like most people do.
    -Ned

  6. #6
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    The 'classic' workbench, as bill mentioned, is primarily designed for hand tool use and the basic layout has not changed in hundreds of years. Check out last months Fine WoodWorking magazine for one alternative - one I am seriously considering for my own shop.
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  7. #7
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    A workbench is not the same as a work table or assembly bench.
    Your use of 4x8 sheets of plywood sounds like it would be better suited to an assembly bench.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rennie Heuer View Post
    The 'classic' workbench, as bill mentioned, is primarily designed for hand tool use and the basic layout has not changed in hundreds of years. Check out last months Fine WoodWorking magazine for one alternative - one I am seriously considering for my own shop.
    In the Dec 2011 issue, I don't see anything about workbenches...is it a different one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Ablett View Post
    A workbench is not the same as a work table or assembly bench.
    Your use of 4x8 sheets of plywood sounds like it would be better suited to an assembly bench.
    Well, I see your point, but I don't have room for 2 benches, so one will have to serve all purposes. Right now it's 4' X 8', that's too big. I think 3' X 7' will do everything.......
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cynthia White View Post
    In the Dec 2011 issue, I don't see anything about workbenches...is it a different one?
    "Winter 2011-2012" annual tools and shops issue. Sorry.
    Some goo general info HERE

    The power tool workbench is HERE
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Ablett View Post
    A workbench is not the same as a work table or assembly bench.
    Your use of 4x8 sheets of plywood sounds like it would be better suited to an assembly bench.
    I disagree. What woodworkers consider a proper bench is very different than that of a metal worker, potter, etc. I think we, as woodworkers, get a bit myopic when talking about benches. The definition needs to open up a bit to include 'benches' that are not traditional hand tool benches such as larger 'tables', etc. Our HS shop classes had work benches that were about 6' square, had four vices, and could accommodate 4 students. Would that not qualify as a workbench?
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