How To Build A Workbench
What Is Needed To Build A Woodworking Workbench
Let's have a detailed look at how to build a workbench for woodworking. Before you start building any workbench, make sure you have decided on the kind of vises you want to use. From a woodworkers point of view, you have the choice of two different vises which you can put on your workbench. So, how to build a workbench is first of all a question about what vises are going to be used.
Different Vises For Your Home Built Workbench
Let's have a look at a heavy duty professional woodworking workbench to make sure we know what we are taking about. Sjöbergs deluxe cabinetmakers workbench is built with two different types of vises or clamps.
The front clamp is a parallel clamp and one of the most common on every workbench.This kind of front parallel clamp can be bought from various sources individually. Rockler offers a very solid one with two screws closing at the same time. The twin screw wise has both screws connected with a chain guaranteeing that the force is divided parallel on the clamp.
In case of planning to build a smaller woodworking workbench, you could also get a smaller quick release vise. Depending on the size of the workbench you build and how thick the benchtop is supposed to be, this smaller vise might give you enough pressure for daily jobs.
The rear vise, integrated into the workbench top, can open up to 10 inches and gives tremendous pressure as it presses against the end grain. However, integrating this kind of rear clamp into a self made workbench is rather difficult and requires a rather thick benchtop. Even getting this rear clamp can be difficult, especially in North America. In Europe, it was sold in the past by Bessey or directly as a spare part from the manufacturers like Sjoebergs or Ulmia.
Workbenches With Or Without Cabinets Underneath
Before you start to build a workbench, think a moment about how the base should be. You can choose between standard framed workbench bases or having them combined with cabinets for tools and machinery storage. From a practical point of view, if you build a workbench with cabinets underneath, it seems to be very efficient at first glance. However, cabinets and shelves at the base have two disadvantages. First, the cabinets work like a kind of loud speakers if connected to the benchtop. So, whenever you use a power tool on your workbench, the noise level will increase. The second disadvantage of having a cabinet under your workbench is its accessibility. Think about it for a moment. Whenever you clamp a larger workpiece at the front vise, it will stand underneath the benchtop and prevent cabinet doors or drawers from opening. What seems to be a nice way of tool storage can become quite annoying during day to day work. I prefer a wall mounted cabinet for most of my hand tools close to the workbench.
Wood Used To Build A Workbench
Nearly all professional heavy duty workbenches are made of beech. Dried and damped beach wood is elastic and at the same time hard enough for daily use. If you consider building your workbench totally on your own, make sure that the wood used is very dry and laminated for the bench top.
On standard or lighter workbenches birch wood is often used. Compared to beech, it might be less durable but gives enough hardness combined with less weight. As far as the thickness of the workbench top is concerned, major high end workbenches such as Sjoebergs or Ulmia make the top up to 4 inches thick. This allows bench dogs a solid fit and gives the workbench the solidity for heavy daily use.
Accessories When You Are Building A Workbench On Your Own
It is not really often a question on how to build a workbench, but more on what to think about at first before you start. So, you have thought about size, the vises to be used, the cabinets underneath or not and the wood you will build it with. Before you get started, have a look at some of the accessories you want to use in your workbench when you built it.
Depending on the bench dogs you decide upon, you will have to mortise bench dog holes in your workbench. Especially where you set the holes, your benchtop should be at least 2 inches thick to give the bench dogs a good solid fit. Rockler's bench dogs are for holes of 5/8'' x 3/4'' size.
Hold Down Clamps
Another very useful accessory when you build a workbench is a hold down clamp. The Jorgenson hold down clamp as one example here, is inserted into the 3/4" bench hole and gives you a kind of extra hand while working.
Finally, before you start to build a workbench and try to figure out what might be the best way to do it and how to get all the accessories, you should have a look at some good workbench plans or consider getting workbench kits with all needed hardware and good instructions included. Most of the time these plans not only show you how to build a workbench, but also where to source the hardware for it.
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