How narrow a workbench?
#11
  
I've got a workbench that's 5' long by 20" wide and about 30" high. The legs and top are stout and heavy--thick oak and maple. It's fitted with a 52D Record vise. I'd like to move it out of our house into a small backyard tool shed. My question is this: How narrow could I make it and still have it be useful? Would 16" wide be okay? I could make a slightly longer top for it, but I need to keep it fairly narrow.
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#12
  Re: How narrow a workbench? by overland (I've got a workbench...)
(07-05-2018, 07:56 PM)overland Wrote: I've got a workbench that's 5' long by 20" wide and about 30" high. The legs and top are stout and heavy--thick oak and maple.  It's fitted with a  52D Record vise. I'd like to move it out of our house into a small backyard tool shed. My question is this: How narrow could I make it and still have it be useful? Would 16" wide be okay? I could make a slightly longer top for it, but I need to keep it fairly narrow.

I think mine is about 18" by 5.5' by 30" or so high.
For me the width is perfect.
Often advantageous when clamping cauls.
Everyone's needs are  different.


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#13
  Re: How narrow a workbench? by overland (I've got a workbench...)
The actual usable space of my bench is probably 16" wide... then I have a shallow tool well, and more surface(storage) area behind that... If I had another place to store all of the stuff I have on the back side of the bench, I could easily get by with only a 16" wide worksurface... but again, thats where I keep my chisels, marking gauges, mallets, and whatever measuring/marking tooks I am using at the moment.
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#14
  Re: How narrow a workbench? by overland (I've got a workbench...)
The narrower you make it, the less stable it will be.
Wood is good. 
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#15
  Re: How narrow a workbench? by overland (I've got a workbench...)
Panels sitting on my bench..are 14-3/4" wide...
   
Is kind of a rare event...to see the bench cleared off... Rolleyes
   
About 34" tall...and 5' or so long Rolleyes 
   
Seems to work, though.   Warning:  IF you be taller than 5'10"..that bar clamp will leave a mark on the top of your head ( I'm 5' 11"....) Cool
Show me a picture, I'll build a project from that
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#16
  Re: How narrow a workbench? by overland (I've got a workbench...)
I have several benches with my main bench being 28" deep, including a tool well that is 6" wide. I build a "quickie" 8' long X 14" wide bench, with splayed legs several years ago, for a special project. The narrow width is very useful for certain projects, and the splayed legs make it stable, though the length is not convenient in a small shop. One of these days, I may remodel it to about 5' in length.
Waiting to grow up beyond being just a member
http://www.metaltech-pm.com
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#17
  Re: How narrow a workbench? by overland (I've got a workbench...)
My bench is 18" wide x 7' long. I would go longer rather then wider, and would not have a problem with 16" width.

I have never felt the need for a deeper bench, but do find that a longer bench allows me to have different spaces for different operations.
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#18
  Re: How narrow a workbench? by overland (I've got a workbench...)
I like a narrow bench for planing.  I find I only need a single stop and a back stop. With a narrow bench that's up against a wall, that back stop can be a piece of scrap wood bumping against the wall.  Plywood is probably best because it lays flat and will probably be thinner than anything you need to plane. Since I typically plane the length of my bench, there is no real structural disadvantage to a narrow bench.  And having a wall to push it against, is really helpful.

But there are a couple problems with narrow benches.  You will just have to design around these:
1) You can't assemble and glue up a carcase or chair easily. Sometimes this work is better done on a lower surface.  Recommend plywood on saw horses.
2) Its really tough to cross cut saw at the end of a narrow bench.  I always have a bench hook on the right hand end of my bench that I use to cross cut on. With a narrow bench close to the wall, you can hit the wall with your saw and bend it.  This was a show stopper for me.

My Nicholson bench is 2 2X12s wide or about 22" IIRC. It works fine for planing, but I couldn't assemble a Chippendale chair on it. (shelves over made the problem worse).

I feel strongly about benches I guess because I felt led astray in my younger days by guys who built benches that primarily were used to sell books, magazine articles, or hold their coffee cups. In a neander shop, the bench is chiefly a stock prep tool first, a joinery platform second.  So it should be at a minimum, as long as your stock (8' if you buy 8' boards) and wider than the widest board you work on.  I toss my boards on my bench and look over them. I may plane them a little to see what's going on.  Then I do layout, edge planing, cross cutting, all without moving the lumber too much. I feel like edge planing is a super important and EASY operation that many benches neglect. Once you can do that well, then I'd add vises for joinery.  Stock prep first, joinery second.

What I found was, in a real unplugged shop, the size of lumber on my bench was typically bigger than in shops with table saws and stuff.  Guys with table saws do their stock prep away from their benches (typically at the table saw) then show up at the bench with little pieces and their coffee cup for assembly/joinery work. That's a VERY different bench.

Again, apologies for the digression!
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#19
  Re: How narrow a workbench? by overland (I've got a workbench...)
Do you use it for assembly? If you don't have an assembly table, 16" is not wide enough unless you build small projects like boxes.

One solution is put a larger 3/4" plysheet on top of your bench when needed, say, for assembly purposes. Other than that, 16" is fine.

Simon
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#20
  Re: How narrow a workbench? by overland (I've got a workbench...)
I agree with Adam. 

Having never owned a "bench" my layout and assembly work is the table of a RAS, garage slab floor, or whatever can be put on saw horses. Recently, I acquired a 12-foot 4x6 beam for my real bench (not finished) that I use on the sawhorses when fiddling with sticks, up to 20 feet long. I work over a driveway, mostly.

The beater part of your bench (thickest wood) can be whatever width you feel safe about slamming a hammer on. If you are short on space maybe, combine functions?
Bruce
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