Workbench Questions/Concerns - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 08-02-2018, 01:46 PM Thread Starter
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Workbench Questions/Concerns

Hey all,

Getting started with woodworking and setting up a micro-workshop in the garage, and looking for some advice/thoughts. I say "micro" because all of my tools have to fit in a floorspace approximately 3' x 10' or hang up on the walls, so that I can still park two cars when not working. To that end, I mocked up a design that I think might work, but wanted additional eyes on the project to see if there are any glaring issues that I might have overlooked (again, novice here):

Workbench Objectives:
  • Fit all large tools in a 3'x10' area (table saw, miter saw, planer, jointer, drill press)
  • When tools not in use, have a single uninterrupted work surface
  • Bench to double as in/out-feed table, or additional support, for all included tools
  • Mobile/wheeled, so it can be against the wall when not used, but in center of garage when in use

With those goals in mind, and using rough measurements of the tools I have or have in mind, I mocked this up:



From left to right is: table saw, miter saw, planer, jointer, and drill press (rough approximations based on dimensions listed online). The idea is that everything minus the table saw sits below the table surface when not in use, and is either lifted/rotated to be level with the top when used. The drill press can be rotated up (kind of like a flip-top table), and everything else is raised using either an RV or motorcycle scissor jack. GIF to demonstrate the idea:



...although I obviously wouldn't have them all up at the same time, that would kind of defeat the purpose...

Here are the concerns I have, which I hope y'all could provide some input on:

Weight
Using this chart and listed weights online, the entire bench comes to around 1200lbs, and I'm not sure how easy that's going to be to roll around...maybe I should split it into two 3'x5' sections?

Materials
Currently the entire bench is going to be made of softwoods, including the top which is made of laminated 2x4s - I would love to have a hardwood top but that increases the cost of the top by 5-10x. Is hardwood that much of an advantage? Is it worth the additional cost? So far I have not come across any cheap hardwoods in LA...damn desert

Vise Clamps
Due to the way the way the tools are stored I can't put in a traditional vise clamp, but I could actually fit on a leg clamp (between the table saw and miter). Is it essential to have one, or could I do without?

Stability
With the caster wheels and the removable tops, am I shooting myself in the foot? Will it not be as level or as stable a surface as a workbench should be?

Removable Tops
Not sure how these should be attached - was thinking maybe dados, so they can slide in or out like a shelf, and also reduces most vertical shifting.

Joinery
I'm using 4x4's mostly for aesthetic reasons, as I want the thickness to be equal dimensions from every angle, while also being able to practice using all the tools while making the bench. Where three pieces meet it's a combination dado/ half-lap, with a 1" dowel rod put in more for decoration than any functional purpose. Wanted to check that this isn't some fool's errand. GIF of joint:


Lastly...
Is this insane overkill? I feel like it might be...
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post #2 of 17 Old 08-02-2018, 02:15 PM
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"Lastly...
Is this insane overkill? I feel like it might be..."

Most likely, these types of benches generally don't work well, something will either be in the way or it is going to be tiresome getting to the tool you need to use for 30 seconds.
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post #3 of 17 Old 08-02-2018, 02:20 PM
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That is a very well drawn out blueprint for a very well thought put plan.

You're going to hate using it though.

Reason for that is you're using tool stands as a primary working surface, and I can completely bloody guarantee that as soon as you have a bunch of bits and pieces of your workpiece piled on top of one, you're gonna end up needing whatever is under it. I was there for quite a while, with a multifunction workbench that also served as a table saw outfeed and a drill press stand and place to put my planer and so on, and it never failed that something would be getting in the way.

Addressing your questions though, 1200lbs is probably a bit much to have on 6 casters and it will be an absolute bloody bear to move around, and god help you if the floor has anything larger than a hairline crack. Softwood is fine for a workbench, you'll just piss off the stuffy old purists. A good vise is the most important thing you can have in your shop, find a way to include one of some type. Stability is probably a little iffy, it depends more on how level your floors are. The tops, a tongue and groove or a sliding dovetail would be my way of making them detachable. I see no issues with the joinery, doweled half-laps should be plenty strong

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post #4 of 17 Old 08-02-2018, 02:33 PM
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To me, it seems like you would be spending more time gaining access to the tool you want to use versus actually using said tool. Also, no way would I want to move around 1200+ lbs. Factor in that most garage floors are not level and most are not 100% smooth surface, I think it would be almost nightmarish moving this around.


There was an episode of Ask This Old House where they set up a small shop in a single car garage. Maybe some tables the way they do in the episode would work best and then focus on storage.


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post #5 of 17 Old 08-02-2018, 04:44 PM
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I applaud your creativity and attention to detail! But as a retired ME who designed complex blood analyzers for a living I suggest you simplify (KISS Principle), no offense. Design reviews are humbling experiences but will usually result in a better product.

Having an all-in-one design will make it difficult when you only want to use say just the drill press or table saw since everything will need to travel. Any tool that can be stationary most of the time like using a drill press against the wall should be on its own stand. Incorporate holders for accessories dedicated to that tool. After that I would space out any tools that I might want to use sequentially like the miter saw and table saw. I find I usually use these two tools together. Maybe put each of these tools in the end positions so they could be used together most of the time, except to really bigbsheets of plywood being cut, for example.

One last point, pay attention to ergonomic factors to position the various tools at comfortable and safe working height depending on the tool.

Just some thoughts.
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post #6 of 17 Old 08-02-2018, 06:57 PM
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I'm a designer, so I can appreciate what you've done, not to mention the thought and work that went into it. That said, I agree with the poster above...having an all-in-one design will make using this difficult. I believe you've made too many sacrifices here and you won't be happy with how all of this functions in a real workflow. The major design flaw that I see is the laminated top, which is typically used for hand tool work. You've got power tools, so there's no need or advantage to having a thicker/heavier top - especially used in conjunction with wheels.

Aside from that, consider each tool's use by itself and it's relation to the next process down the line. For example, you bring in raw lumber for a project. What's next?

  1. Most likely a pass or two over the jointer will be first, then...
  2. Run through the planer, then...
  3. Cut to width on the table saw, then...
  4. Cut to length on the mitre saw, then...
  5. Some assembly on the surface, maybe some holes with the drill press?
Follow each step of the above process using your bench. Removing the tops, raising the tool, moving wood around, using the tool and lowering it, replacing the tops, then moving on to the next step. It wouldn't be very efficient.

Which brings up another point - do you really need a miter saw for cross cuts? Considering your limited space, it might make more sense to just build a sled and do cross cuts with your table saw.

More food for thought.
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post #7 of 17 Old 08-02-2018, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
...then measure again
 
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I appreciate the feedback, all my fears have been confirmed! Some of the things y'all mentioned made me think about the problem a little more...

The original constraint was that all of the tools have to fit in the small space left in the garage when the cars are parked, but a couple comments about making the tools more spaced out (so they can be used in sequence) made me realize that when I'm working the cars will be out of the garage and there will be lots of room. This means with the all-in-one bench I'm not taking advantage of all that space, and am unnecessarily restricting myself to a single work surface.

With that in mind, I mocked up Version 2. I split up the bench into four individually mobile carts - no more flip up drill press or mechanical risers for the planer/miter. And in order to get a reasonably sized worktop, I can add something akin to dining table leaves between (the risky proposal). GIF example:



I could give a little more thought into the specific arrangement to prevent tool-to-tool interference, but it illustrates the basic concept.

This addresses a couple problems:
  • Significantly reduces weight, each cart should be less than 200lbs (thanks @epicfail48, @Snowball)
  • Access to more than one tool at a time for better flow (thanks @FrankC, @epicfail48, @AmishElectricCo)
  • Allows for a lot more storage (since I'm not raising/lowering any tools under the benchtop)
  • Gives me a lot more space than I would originally have with a single bench

This also introduces a less than super-stable worktop with the leaves - I think it could work but I'm not completely confident, and in retrospect might not be any more/less stable than the removable tops in the original design.

Thoughts?

P.S.
@AmishElectricCo -
  • I agree I'm not sure if I need the miter saw, but it's one I already have and figured I'd keep it around.
  • As for the laminated tops, that's also an aesthetic thing - maybe I should laminate on the short edge instead of the face to keep the weight down.
@Snowball

  • I like the flip-down table idea, but unfortunately all my other walls are storage for other things :(
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post #8 of 17 Old 08-02-2018, 08:46 PM
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post #9 of 17 Old 08-02-2018, 11:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeasureThrice View Post
I appreciate the feedback, all my fears have been confirmed! Some of the things y'all mentioned made me think about the problem a little more...


I think you'll be much happier with a modular system like this. Much more versatile, and you haven't lost anything.

One thing to consider: notice the empty space under the planer and miter saw? You could put both of those on the same cart with a flip top. Then use the 4th cart as an added work surface that could be used as an extension for your table saw, planer, and jointer. You could add storage drawers underneath make the 4th cart have a flip top also with room for a future tool someday.

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post #10 of 17 Old 08-03-2018, 08:56 AM
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I agree with the others: impressive plans and mad skills with the design software. (I'm a sketch-it-on-scrap-paper-then-throw-it-away-and-improvise designer)


From a slightly different perspective, it seems like a big project to get started with in woodworking .
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post #11 of 17 Old 08-03-2018, 11:45 AM
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I wish I had more to contribute, but this thread is evolving quite nicely without my help. I was going to suggest a modular design, but I kept scrolling down and @MeasureThrice already drew it up.

The reason for this post is to say that I am so impressed with MeasureThrice's design and drawing abilities, and especially the animations. It is far beyond me. I am still at the pen on napkin stage. Wow!
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post #12 of 17 Old 08-03-2018, 01:15 PM
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I would still be concerned about casters. I'm not keen on using power tools where the stand can move around. Even with locking casters, they still rotate which can cause the stand to move a few inches.
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post #13 of 17 Old 08-03-2018, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowball View Post
I would still be concerned about casters. I'm not keen on using power tools where the stand can move around. Even with locking casters, they still rotate which can cause the stand to move a few inches.
@Snowball - is there another way to make them mobile without casters? I could do something more crazy like put down some tracks that the carts could slide on (although that would restrict my mobility options...and be a huge tripping hazard).
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post #14 of 17 Old 08-03-2018, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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I appreciate the comments regarding my drafting skills - just utilizing day job skills to significantly overthink my designs.

I did a lot of problem solving on paper first, but it's a lot easier to determine if things will fit when I can see it in three dimensions.
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post #15 of 17 Old 08-03-2018, 02:42 PM
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I to have a small area to work in and the family finally got everything cleared out for me to start sitting it up. I am planning to build another stand for my R4516 tablesaw and I am going to put fixed casters on one set of legs where I can lift on the other side where I can move it around. The same with my stand I am building for my bandsaw and drill press. I am going to build a small workbench which will be mobile with a set of these http://www.rockler.com/workbench-caster-kit-4-pack so I can use it as a outfeed table when I need it.

Marlin
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post #16 of 17 Old 08-03-2018, 05:40 PM
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Based on the space you have allotted for your shop, I think your plan is a very good and workable plan.
I like your idea of making the workstation in multiple units rather than one big heavy bench. You can also add shelving or drawers to the open areas below the tops for additional storage. Doors and drawers on cabinets below will keep all your stored items much cleaner and will look more organized when pushed against the wall. This will be a very good project.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #17 of 17 Old 08-03-2018, 05:52 PM Thread Starter
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Ok version 3 (or 2.1...not that big of a change). I liked the idea of the flip-top option, leaving a single cart with no tools.
This means I can get away with one leaf instead of two, and opens up the possibility of adding a vise in the future.

Couple different arrangements, probably more options with more leaves:



I feel like the design is getting close! Just waiting on the planer to arrive, and figure out how i want to do the flip-top and connect the carts together (so the tops are at least flush with each other, even if the floor isn't perfectly level).
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