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The Design Process of Workbench 2.0

Hardly an original design, my new bench  is pretty much a synthesis of modern European bench design like the Ulmia benches from Germany, parts of Frank Klauzs' great bench, and every other bench plan, article or photo I could find. Early on, I decided I didn't want a thicker skirt in the front and back like the Ulmias and went for a continuous thickness of 3". The tail vise area, due to the metal sliding plate hardware is 4.25" thick. Proportions, however are a little different then commercial benches and are geared around both my very small shop size (Roughly 12' x 14', with additional smaller areas for storing lumber and roller base mounted power tools) and my experiences with my previous bench.

Width was probably the most important dimension for me to decide on, as my small shop size determined the length. Though they work great, I found I wasn't as comfortable with a really narrow bench like the Scandinavian benches that are typically 14" wide and went for 24"for the main body of the top. My previous bench was 16" wide plus a wide and deep tool tray that made for a total width of 28î. Many times, I had wished for more table width for assembly and making larger furniture. With the small tool tray and back rail on my new bench, overall width ended up at 31". So far, the width is working out perfectly. It's easy to reach items in the now smaller  and shallower tool tray. I have plenty of table width for larger projects and because I only have room in my shop for a small permanent assembly table, the bench also makes a great surface for assembly.

My length is 77" including end caps. And, add six inches for the tail vise and hardware overhang. My maximum vise opening allows me to clamp up to 82î long--which is long enough for most doors. Though I wouldn't have minded another foot in bench length, this length should work out well in my shop.

A near last minute design decision had to do with the tool tray. I was originally not going to have a tool tray.  On my first bench, it was 6î deep, pretty wide and always filled with clutter, shavings and sawdust. Just before I jumped in with cutting Maple, I decided to add a smaller, shallower one with long ramps. I'm glad I did. It stays clean and works well.

Editor's note: A lot has happened since this was first written. From my original shop I quickly became a professional furniture maker and was producing up to 50 pieces year in that 12' x 14' space. Crazy, for sure. Ended up moving to distant freestanding shop that was 23' x 32'. Produced even more in that space with a full time assistant. Now, I'm in a new location with a shop I designed from scratch that is 58' x 30'. Much better. In any case, I still use this bench and still love it.