Building A "Knock-Down" Woodworking Bench - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 33 Old 01-02-2020, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
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Building A "Knock-Down" Woodworking Bench

I want to build a knock-down woodworker's bench so that our garage can be used as a garage when I'm not doing a project. The idea is to be able to knock it down and store it when not in use. Assemble it when I need it. The top, a somewhat beat up 60 in. by 30 in. by 1-3/4 in. thick butcher block top I bought for this purpose, is a bit much to be horsing around.

My plan is to rip it lengthwise into three equal sections, and use long machine bolts through the sides, with threaded inserts in the middle section, to make it whole again. Obviously: Those threaded inserts will need to be darn strong, because those bolts will need to be snugged-down darn tight to make that top be what it should be when assembled.

I'll probably have four bolts on each side: Three equally spaced along the length, with one pair located to either side of the side vise to counter separation when I use the vise with bench dogs.

Or would it be wiser to drill all the way through, width-wise, and use threaded rod? I'm already going to be drilling eight ten inch long holes. What's another four?

I'll also have a couple steel dowels on each side, for locator pins, and short... "ledger boards" ?, for lack of a better term, on each side of the center section. Again, for locators.

Thoughts? Recommendations?

"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." -- John Ruskin (1819-1900)
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post #2 of 33 Old 01-03-2020, 12:49 PM
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Have you looked at Robert Lang's 21st century workbench? I built this and have been very happy with it. I did one modification to it. I made mine using the half dovetails on the upper and lower stretchers, and it uses wedges that hold it stable and no racking when used. It comes apart easily, and my bench uses eight 1/4" bolts that are screwed into inserts in the bottom of the top.

https://www.popularwoodworking.com/w...ch_Article.pdf

Gary
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post #3 of 33 Old 01-03-2020, 01:03 PM
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While there are plenty of knockdown designs, I particularly like the Moravian workbench and am almost finished building one for my shop. I had a 60" x 30" chunk of butcher block top, too, and I ripped it in half, glued the halves together, and built the rest of the bench. The sucker is solid, the top is not too heavy to lug about when needed, and stable as all get-out. Big thumbs up from me.
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post #4 of 33 Old 01-03-2020, 01:22 PM
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If you are in a garage, it has to be simple. The simplest I can think of is have one side of the workbench screwed into the wall with hinges. The front side will either drop down or lift up whichever you choose. Whether you lift up or drop down, the front legs are also be on hinges and they will fall down into place. For cross bracing, you can figure that out on your own.
From there , you can keep it as simple or complicated as you wish.
The actual top oor working surface can be a simple piece of plywood or one of those tops with the compartments built it.Cant think of the name of it offhand, but it's real popular these days.

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Retired woodworker, amongst other things, Sold full time cruising boat and now full time cruising in RV. Currently in Somerville, Tx

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post #5 of 33 Old 01-03-2020, 04:45 PM
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I'm considering a fold-down bench, too. I could use the extra floor space but then I have to find a place for the stuff on the bottom shelf. Will watch this thread.

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post #6 of 33 Old 01-04-2020, 12:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the pointers, guys! I don't know as I'll replicate exactly either of the two designs mentioned, but they do give me good ideas.

miketo, I'm confused. Do you mean you ripped the 60 x 30 top you had, and turned it into a thicker 60 x 15 top? 15 in. wide doesn't seem like much to me.

Tony B, I don't want it against a wall. For starters: I don't have wall space for it that isn't otherwise already dedicated for other purposes. I also want to be able to access the benchtop from all four sides when I use it.

Anyway, mainly I was wondering how successful might be my plans for the benchtop part being reassembled as I described.

"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." -- John Ruskin (1819-1900)

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post #7 of 33 Old 01-04-2020, 01:47 PM
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SEMIJim: Yep, I ripped the 30" and made a thicker 15" top. The Moravian design has the half closest to you as a thick slab, while the half farther away is a tool tray. A reinforced top nearby holds things steady for chiseling, hammering, and banging about. Farther away, work support or material holding is the main task.


I also lied to you: I don't have a tool tray. I modified the Moravian so it's a split-top, with two 3.5" x 11" x 60" sections of butcher block running lengthwise and a 2" gap between them. This lets me hook clamps in the gap for workholding. It all depends on what you want to build with your workbench and what your workflow is like.


As for running long bolts, all-thread, or the like through the width, I'm sure it can be done. My father-in-law had a workbench that used all-thread running through the bench like that. But it wasn't designed for knockdown. I also think you'd get pretty tired with bolting and unbolting the benchtop, even if you had a compressor and impact wrench.


Collecting ideas and ruminating over plans was one of the best parts of building my bench. I love researching things like that! If you're still collecting ideas, take a look at these:


Beams and Bases (use your slab instead of a torsion box)


New-Fangled Workbench


Small, Sturdy Workbench (interlocking Japanese joinery!)



There also appears to be a difference between portable and knock-down benches. Portable, you can move and take apart easily. Knock-down, you can move or take apart with some effort.


Good luck on your research!
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post #8 of 33 Old 01-04-2020, 02:05 PM
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SemiJim, My 21st Century bench uses two 3"x 12"x 60" bench surfaces that are bolted down to the bench frames using 1/4" bolts that thread into threaded inserts in the bottom of the bench surface. Each of the bench surfaces uses four bolts. I have not noticed any movement of the bench surfaces when using bench dogs or holdfasts when using them. I don't think it is necessary to try to bore through the width if your bench to insert threaded rods/nuts to form a solid top from two or three sections. If you do basically hand work woodworking, it is doubtful that you will need a bench wider than two feet wide. What type of woodworking will your bench be used for?

Gary
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post #9 of 33 Old 01-04-2020, 07:21 PM
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Take a look at YouTube, specifically Ron Paulk, he has numerous videos and went from a large shop to basically working onsite out of a well equipt trailer.
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post #10 of 33 Old 01-05-2020, 11:31 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by miketo View Post
I also think you'd get pretty tired with bolting and unbolting the benchtop, even if you had a compressor and impact wrench.
Except I don't really do very much woodworking. My thinking is that, when I do, move the cars out of the garage, move table saw and so-forth out of the corners, set up the bench, do the job, put it all back away and move the cars back into the garage until the next time.

For really trivial projects: One section of the benchtop across my sawhorses will probably suffice. (Hmmm... That "beams and braces" article gave me another idea...)

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Good luck on your research!
Thanks!

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If you do basically hand work woodworking, it is doubtful that you will need a bench wider than two feet wide.
Noted, but the top is 30 in. wide. Don't see the point in not using it.

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What type of woodworking will your bench be used for?
Nothing particularly sophisticated or demanding, right now. I'm more doing this because I can, than because I need to :)

It's almost a project unto itself.

"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." -- John Ruskin (1819-1900)
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post #11 of 33 Old 01-07-2020, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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gmercer_48083, the more I look at that 21st Century Bench the more I'm liking it--particularly with your top stretcher modification.

One of my local lumber yards has select yellow pine in 4x8. I could probably economically build the frame from that--ripping the 4x8's down to the requisite widths.

Rip the 30 in. wide butcher block top down to two 12 in. wide lengths, fastened as you have, and, rather than the trays, maybe just leave a 2 in. wide gap down the middle to give me additional flexibility for clamping?

Perhaps, rather than inserts in the bench top and bolts from the bottom, maybe use large hanger bolts



and big honkin' wingnuts to secure the top sections to the base? Would make assembly and disassembly require no more than a mallet--and perhaps a crescent wrench to snug/loosen the wingnuts?

"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." -- John Ruskin (1819-1900)
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post #12 of 33 Old 01-07-2020, 01:14 PM
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SemiJim, I used inserts into the bottom because when the top is removed and stored there is nothing protruding and they lie flat against each other. Your idea would also work to hold it to the base, but would protrude when stored.

Gary
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post #13 of 33 Old 01-07-2020, 03:07 PM Thread Starter
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SemiJim, I used inserts into the bottom because when the top is removed and stored there is nothing protruding and they lie flat against each other. Your idea would also work to hold it to the base, but would protrude when stored.
Yeah, that's the downside. OTOH: I'd have built-in locating pins. But I could accomplish that with a dowel or two on each end of the base. Or I could use inserts and short threaded rods and have the best of both worlds. Hmmm... decisions, decisions...

"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." -- John Ruskin (1819-1900)
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post #14 of 33 Old 01-07-2020, 04:15 PM
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Here's what I would do ......

Leave your nice butcher block as is. Get two of these heavy duty combination vise and saw horses, for about $150.00...... total investment. For small jobs bring out only one of them. For bigger projects use both and set the butcher block on top and clamp it in the vises. You can release one or both of the vises, stick your work between the jaws and clamp it tight to the side of the butcher block like for hand planing or edge drilling etc.

Very flexible and knocks down for storage. If you want, rip the butcher block length wise and only use one half if that's all you need. Put in alignment dowels or steel pins when you need a larger surface and then use them both.

Any type of clamping table or sawhorse will work in pairs. Stanley Workmates for example, or these:
https://www.homedepot.com/p/BLACK-DE...M125/100671605


https://www.lowes.com/pd/WORX-27-in-...B&gclsrc=aw.ds

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

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post #15 of 33 Old 01-08-2020, 09:28 AM
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There are free plans for a knock-down workbench from The Woodsmith Shop. I didn't mention it before, because @SEMIJim wants a different kind of knock-down workbench, somewhat larger.

I am mentioning it now, for others who may be interested. If you try to find the plans with a web search, you will find the paid version. Your web search may also turn up lots of those SCAM "Thousands of Plans" or "Ted's Plans" or variants, so watch out for them! They are a SCAM to steal your money!! If you find any of those webpages, close them quickly. Some may contain malware.

The knock-down workbench was shown and described in a television show, The Woodsmith Shop, Season 12, Episode 1. Go to the webpage below, and look very carefully below the right corner of the "Episode Preview". You will see a link to EPISODE 1201 PLANS: "Knock-down Workbench" here:

https://www.woodsmithshop.com/episodes/season12/1201/

The season is still active, but once it ages out, you won't be able to download the free plans in the future. The plan files are small, so I try to remember to download and save the entire season's plans while the season is still active and the plans are still free.

You can get the plans FREE using the link above, but here is a link to the same plans, but it is for the PAID version. The reasons I am posting it here are: (1) So you can see the photos of the workbench easily, and (2) Eventually the free version will not be available, and others may find this post too late to get the free version, but want to buy the plans anyway.

PAID VERSION TO VIEW PHOTOS. TO DOWNLOAD FREE PLANS (IF STILL AVAILABLE), TRY THE LINK ABOVE FIRST:
https://www.woodsmithplans.com/plan/...own-workbench/

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post #16 of 33 Old 01-08-2020, 10:13 AM
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I made a nice knock down bench out of 2x4s with just a 3/4" top and edged sides.
When the frame folded out for use the top would slip nicely onto the frame and hang over the sides to sorta hold it all together nice. It was a snug fit.
I have a small garage and my intentions were to have the space when I needed....Welllllllll!!!!!
That lasted about 2 weeks when I realized i wanted a more permanent solution
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post #17 of 33 Old 01-08-2020, 12:00 PM
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If I had to make a habit of setting up a workbench to do my hobby, I would probably not be able to continue doing it.

Geoff
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post #18 of 33 Old 01-08-2020, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
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Hmmm... Interesting design, GSXRFanIM. The advantage of your solution, for me, is I already have the bits for the end pieces of the base--with the rabbits and dados already cut and ready to glue up.

You see: I'd first thought to get into fine woodworking about twenty years ago. I'd essentially fabricated most of the base when I came to the conclusion that fine woodworking and uninsulated, unheated garages weren't a good mix. (Too much temperature and humidity variation.) But, being reluctant to ever throw away anything that might be useful some day, I kept all those bits.

I might have to narrow them, as I'd originally envisioned a wider bench, but, between my Delta tenoning jig and my miter guide I could make short work of that.

I've also a pair of laminated 2x6's I'd fabricated for the main stretchers. Wouldn't be able to use those with your design. But at least I'd be able to save part of my old work.

"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." -- John Ruskin (1819-1900)
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post #19 of 33 Old 01-08-2020, 04:33 PM
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I made a nice knock down bench out of 2x4s with just a 3/4" top and edged sides.
When the frame folded out for use the top would slip nicely onto the frame and hang over the sides to sorta hold it all together nice. It was a snug fit.
I have a small garage and my intentions were to have the space when I needed....Welllllllll!!!!!
That lasted about 2 weeks when I realized i wanted a more permanent solution
That is a nice looking stowable bench. What type of work do you do on it?

One of the things I've thought about was being able to move my work outside for a nice afternoon of building in the sun and breeze. A knockdown bench, in concept, could be great for that. Problem for me is the type of woodworking I do can create a lot of lateral racking of the bench, so that would have to be addressed. I'd also need access to a woodworking vice at the bench, which is bulky and heavy in its own right.

Geoff
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post #20 of 33 Old 01-08-2020, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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That is a nice looking stowable bench. What type of work do you do on it?
He noted he only used it for about two weeks, then built something more permanent.

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Problem for me is the type of woodworking I do can create a lot of lateral racking of the bench, so that would have to be addressed.
I was wondering about that, myself.

This is one reason I started another thread, asking about more substantial hinges. I think I'd also upgrade the stretchers to 2x6s. That, along with inserts in the benchtop to solidly secure it to the base, as gmercer_48083 does, should make it pretty rack-proof.

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I'd also need access to a woodworking vice at the bench, which is bulky and heavy in its own right.
That's one reason I'll be sticking with my idea of splitting my benchtop in two. I'm going to have woodworker's end and side vises. It would be a real PITA to mount/unmount those all the time, so I'm going to try leaving them mounted. But you're right: My side vise, in particular, is pretty heavy, so I dunno if it'll be practical.

I may just have to build something, see how it works out, and try something else if it doesn't.
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"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." -- John Ruskin (1819-1900)
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