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post #1 of 10 Old 08-12-2020, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
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Workbench Design Feedback

Hi Everyone!


I'm new to this site and overall fairly new to woodworking. I'm designing my first decent workbench and I was hoping to get some feedback from people more experienced than myself. I've attached the Sketchup file for anyone who would like to view it that way and some screenshots as well.


The legs and cross-rails are made out of laminated 2x6's and are joined together with mortise/tenon. I know the Sketchup doesn't show that but I'm fairly new to Sketchup as well. The top is made out of laminated MDF with portions of the inside reinforced by actual lumber for the eventual addition of bench vises. The boxes on the bottom are just placeholders for leveling casters similar to these: https://www.amazon.com/SPACECARE-Swi...7276658&sr=8-5


Given the weight of the bench top I figured resting it on top of some dowels in the base should be sufficient to secure it.


Thank you for your time and any feedback is appreciated!
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post #2 of 10 Old 08-13-2020, 10:09 AM
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I would add a set of additional stretchers near the bottom of the legs. This will help prevent racking when applying lateral forces. Give yourself at least 3" clearance from the floor so there is room for your feet.

Don't call me, "The Butcher"
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post #3 of 10 Old 08-13-2020, 01:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the feedback! I was planning on adding a shelf down there eventually but hadn't considered that I may have racking issues until I did.
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post #4 of 10 Old 08-13-2020, 02:43 PM
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+1 on stretchers - both ways.

Basically build to H trestles and connect them with long stretchers.

With laminated 2x6's you can leave the middle board long that becomes the tenon.

In this bench I built years ago, the long stretchers are bolts with capture bolts I got from Lee Valley.

The bottom cross braces on my bench aren't absolutely necessary.
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post #5 of 10 Old 08-13-2020, 03:08 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrRobert View Post
+1 on stretchers - both ways.

Basically build to H trestles and connect them with long stretchers.

With laminated 2x6's you can leave the middle board long that becomes the tenon.

In this bench I built years ago, the long stretchers are bolts with capture bolts I got from Lee Valley.

The bottom cross braces on my bench aren't absolutely necessary.

Okay, so the stretchers are a definite then. I see on your table that you have the stretchers at the bottom but no stretchers up at the top to help support the top like I do. Do you think on a bench top my size (24" x 96") it is necessary to have the extra support at the top or would it be better to just take my existing stretchers and move them down and let the top rest on the 4 legs only?
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post #6 of 10 Old 08-13-2020, 05:13 PM
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On a top that's 2" or more .......

Quote:
Originally Posted by sethmc93 View Post
Okay, so the stretchers are a definite then. I see on your table that you have the stretchers at the bottom but no stretchers up at the top to help support the top like I do. Do you think on a bench top my size (24" x 96") it is necessary to have the extra support at the top or would it be better to just take my existing stretchers and move them down and let the top rest on the 4 legs only?

You don't need "support" on a top that's 2" thick or more, it won't sag!
You do need the legs to be mortised into the top to prevent racking if there are no stretchers under the top, because that's also their primary function.
The mortises can be part of the construction as shown here:


If I were to build a Roubo type bench I would do exactly as he shows! That's because I came up with the same idea myself a few years back. Actually about 3 years before he did:
https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f9/i...-22874/index2/

A scale model I made here. The knife is for size reference:





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)

Last edited by woodnthings; 08-13-2020 at 05:18 PM.
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post #7 of 10 Old 08-14-2020, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
You don't need "support" on a top that's 2" thick or more, it won't sag!
You do need the legs to be mortised into the top to prevent racking if there are no stretchers under the top, because that's also their primary function.
The mortises can be part of the construction as shown here:
Roubo Work Bench Made Easy! - YouTube


If I were to build a Roubo type bench I would do exactly as he shows! That's because I came up with the same idea myself a few years back. Actually about 3 years before he did:
https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f9/i...-22874/index2/

A scale model I made here. The knife is for size reference:





Thank you for all the great info! In your estimation do you think resting the top on dowels in the legs would be sufficient? It's not nearly as cool as the approach in the video shown but much quicker/easier.

As for not necessarily needing the top stretchers, I definitely wouldn't see them as necessary if I were using solid lumber but I was a little more nervous about sagging since it is MDF.
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post #8 of 10 Old 08-14-2020, 01:02 PM
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I would put a full frame under the MDF. Like making a wall or floor.

Then double up the studs, or use same size lumber as the legs at the points of the legs attachment.

A simple method which I used to save time is to use 2) 2x4ís sistered and glued for the legs, and single 2x4 the perimeter for the table top frame, and offset the 2x4s at the top of the legs to make a rebate for the perimeter 2x4 like a half lap joint.

Like so: this is the base of my bench but the concept is the same. You can get a better, more polished look by squaring up the 2x4ís with a jointer or table saw. But that was not important to me when I made it.


Heres the top end, but its more difficult to see.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Dave H
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post #9 of 10 Old 08-14-2020, 01:05 PM
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You get one chance to do it right ......

Quote:
Originally Posted by sethmc93 View Post
Thank you for all the great info! In your estimation do you think resting the top on dowels in the legs would be sufficient? It's not nearly as cool as the approach in the video shown but much quicker/easier.

As for not necessarily needing the top stretchers, I definitely wouldn't see them as necessary if I were using solid lumber but I was a little more nervous about sagging since it is MDF.
Workbenches are a "lifetime" project, unless you decide that it wasn't what you wanted OR it didn't turn out as you expected. I have evolved through quite a few in my days, but here's what I have learned. The top must be attached to the legs in such a way that they con not move when a racking force is applied. The top is where the weight is so, given a sloppy or weak leg connection it will have "momentum" and be magnified.

There are two ways to prevent racking that I'm aware of:
One is to attach the legs directly into the top as shown in the video and in my model. There ain't no way you can rack them in a through mortise as shown.

A variation on that would be the use of stretches directly under the top securely fastened, but allowance made for the top to move in width. The legs are then attached in the corners with various means. My favorite method involves a corner brace first shown here by Lola Ranch. I liked it so well I started a competition to see who could come up with various ways to make it:
https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f2/l...allenge-33352/

The second way is the use of a plywood backing panel attached to the legs and stretchers. Side panels will also help. Diagonal braces forming triangles, the strongest geometric shape, are far better than rectangles which are the weakest geometric shape and will collapse under racking loads. The rectangle is what the workbench is with the legs attached, so bracing is required. A plywood back panel is the equivalant of triangle bracing, it just doesn't appear that way.
Most if not all dressers and large cabinets have a plywood back panel for this reason.

Once you understand the physics of joinery.... forces that are in tension, compression, racking etc. you will be able to make projects that last a lifetime or more.
Some projects can be made very strong without the use of fasteners or glue, because the strength is in the joinery itself, mortise and tenon being the most popular and one of the strongest joints.

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)

Last edited by woodnthings; 08-14-2020 at 01:51 PM.
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post #10 of 10 Old 08-14-2020, 02:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
Workbenches are a "lifetime" project, ...
or two... i've been using my father's workbench since 1983, when he died of cancer
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