Idea for an improved workbench.

Dylan Buffum

Dylan
User
Hi everyone,

I'm looking for input on my idea for a new workbench for my shop. I've posted some sketches below. I'm on a tight budget, so I try to use and re-use whatever I have on hand.

My current workbench is a 62" x 62" welded metal frame, currently topped with layers of scraps of plywood, particle board and MDF:



I can't afford the $$$ to put 8/4 hardwood on top. I've been reading the "Anarchists Workbench," which is a marvelous book available for free from Lost Art Press. The author is a fan of Southern Yellow Pine, milled from dimensional lumber. Coincidentally, I have some SYP beams about 10" x 4.25" x 64", and a supply of smaller pieces. Unfortunately, they're pretty green. The beams have been air-drying in my shop for about a year. The other pieces are air drying outside, but under cover.

Here are some design ideas. I'd edge-glue the SYP beams, and recess them to sit inside the frame. They'd be screwed to the frame from underneath. The long edge of one would extend out by about 2" to make a 2"x2" clamping edge. The end grain would be flush with the metal frame. Something like this:

Screen Shot 2021-03-03 at 1.16.19 PM.png


Screen Shot 2021-03-03 at 1.18.44 PM.png


Then I's use a 48" x 48" sheet of 3/4" melamine on top of dimensional lumber to make an out-feed table for my table saw, like this:

Screen Shot 2021-03-03 at 2.05.41 PM.png


I'd trim the edge of the whole table in a hardwood, screwed to the metal frame from underneath. That would give a clamping surface for the end vice, installed as shown here:

Screen Shot 2021-03-03 at 2.26.46 PM.png


The open space in the sketch would be filled with laminated SYP dimensional lumber, milled to size.

So, any obvious bad ideas here?

--Is the green SYP going to be a problem?
--What do folks think about building the TS outfield table into the workbench? I will be building a separate mobile station for the TS so it can roll up to the workbench, or away as needed, and I can dial in the height.
--What about the end vice/bench dog arrangement? The clamping edge?
--Is there a problem with the grains going different directions?
--Other?
 

Roy G

Roy
Senior User
Dylan, i would be concerned about the beams warping as they dry out more. Four inch thick wood needs more than a year of drying to be stable.

Roy G
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
Dylan, i would be concerned about the beams warping as they dry out more. Four inch thick wood needs more than a year of drying to be stable.

Roy G
+1 on the drying time. Most lumbermen use as a rule of thumb 1 year per inch of thickness.
 

mdbuntyn

Matt
Corporate Member
Since you're reading Schwarz, I'll assume that you want to use more hand tools. Have you tried planing a board on the bench as it currently is? If not, throw a couple of screws into it at one end (to act as a stop), and spend some time planing.

Soon enough you'll know whether or not your idea is worth pursuing.
 

Dylan Buffum

Dylan
User
Since you're reading Schwarz, I'll assume that you want to use more hand tools. Have you tried planing a board on the bench as it currently is? If not, throw a couple of screws into it at one end (to act as a stop), and spend some time planing.

Soon enough you'll know whether or not your idea is worth pursuing.
Oh, I do a lot of work with hand tools. One of the major frustrations with my current bench is the absence of bench dogs and no clamping edge.
 

Hmerkle

Hank
Corporate Member
Dylan,
I am going to take another tack here...
Could you mount the 10" x 4.25" x 64" SYP you have in the frame without glueing them? That way you will not have failed glue joints and the beams will have time to dry. Remember Schwarz advocates using green lumber for the Roubo benches, with the warning that they will need flattening until they become stable.
If you bolt them or screw them to the frame, I would only use one screw or bolt in the center of the wood to allow the beams to shrink. (I would write on the bottom of them with a sharpie, the install date and the expected "dry date" for example if I installed a 4 inch beam today, my dry date check date is March 2025.)

The last thing I would be concerned with is the bench "scooting" around your shop. (metal legs can walk...) but if you are working on it now, maybe that is not a problem.

Anyway, it is an alternative to waiting 3-4 years for the wood to dry...

Remember as these are green or semi-green, they will be easier to work than they will in 3, 4 or 5 years....
 

mdbuntyn

Matt
Corporate Member
Oh, I do a lot of work with hand tools. One of the major frustrations with my current bench is the absence of bench dogs and no clamping edge.
Your idea may very well work, but I'd suggest that you go through your woodpile and see if you have enough to build a "proper" hand tool bench. The timbers that you have can either be the top, or cut down for legs and stretchers.
 

tarheelz

Dave
Corporate Member
Dylan,

I'd say you have the kernel of a very good idea. Read Paul Sellers' blog on building SYP workbench. So long as you have lamination, you don't get twist or warping.

Here's the bench attached to my saw that steals some of these elements. 1" SYP boards laminated.
IMG_0516.jpg
 

Roy G

Roy
Senior User
The video I saw of Paul Sellers making a workbench out of pine was using 2x4 material that he turned so the 4" dimension was vertical. Dylan was showing his wood being horizontal in his sketch. Be a lot of work to saw his 4 1/4" thick wood into smaller pieces for laminating. It's possible and it would remove warping considerations but still a lot of work.

Roy G
 

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