27 Feb. 2011|
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This bench features a sturdy top and a trestle base is rigid enough to resist any racking forces. The woodworking bench is to the workshop as bases are to the game of baseball: Without a proper bench at which to work, you’ll be like a base runner with no place to go. In ancient times, the woodworker’s bench consisted of a plank or split log with four splayed legs.
The front edge of a woodworker’s bench is usually lined with square holes positioned at regular intervals. If you have a choice of bench heights, as you will if you elect to make your own bench, you might find it expedient to make it the same height as your table or radial-arm saw.
One traditional rule of thumb for benches is that they should be approximately the height of their user’s hip joint. Be sure to remember the surprising range of benchtop accessories, some of which can help make your bench more useful.
A good bench is a bench that suits its user’s needs, that helps the worker accomplish his or her tasks faster, better, or with a higher degree of safety. Descendants of those benches are manufactured today, usually with a top of hardwood slabs glued together.
One advantage of having the well set into the top of the bench is that, even with a variety of objects in the well, a large sheet of material can still be laid flat over the entire surface of the bench; the contents of the tool well offer no interference. Tools in use like chisels and drivers can be temporarily slid into the slot, and the handles protruding from the bench top are easy to reach. Virtually everything in the workshop comes to rest on the bench at some point, even if only between operations at other stations. Jigs and dogs and stops and clamps, among other elements, are essential to most benches, as are vises. Beneath the top of the bench, some cabinetmaker models feature single storage drawers, others several drawers and even cupboards incorporated into a case-like base.
Planning and layout, cutting and shaping, assembling and finishing–all can be, and often are, performed on the benchtop. Large, heavy benches are more stable and, in general, more adaptable to different jobs (sometimes several at once).
Before buying or building your bench, decide what your needs are for devices that will hold your workpieces firmly. The better the design, and the better suited its size and configuration to your labors, the more efficient a tool it will be.