A woodworking bench is one of the essential equipments to have in a woodworking shop. It is what is used by woodworkers to hold work pieces while they work on them with their tools. The shape, size and proportion of a woodworking bench can definitely vary from person to person. This is because every woodworker likes to have a bench that is customized as per his needs – depending on the way he works or the types of projects that are executed on it. There are however, two features that are common that are fairly common in all types of woodworking benches. First is they should be heavy, sturdy and safe enough to handle all sorts of woodwork that will be carried on it and secondly, there should be a way to hold the work piece in place so that it doesn’t go awry in the midst of work. Depending on the kind of project that is being worked upon on a workbench, ideally there should be a couple of ways of holding it.
Since, every woodworking has something different about the way he works; there can be no one woodworking bench that will suit everyone’s needs. Over the centuries, a woodworking bench has evolved tremendously, but the basic criteria of choosing one has remain somewhat same. In ancient times, woodworkers made use of a plant or split log and added four strong legs to it to make their work bench. The Romans are the first ones known to be using woodworking bench, to facilitate the flattening and smoothing of a stock. Their woodworking bench as we know today was a long board on four splayed legs with stops fitted to keep it intact while a stock was planned over it. The woodworking benches today have come a long way from the old times.
Typical Characteristics of a Woodworking Bench:
- A workbench typically has a flat surface and often at the rear end of it is a cavity called tool well that houses tools and components. Having a tool well offers certain advantages, like it can store a number of necessary equipments and they will not interfere even if you had to lay down a large sheet of stock.
- The front side of the bench typically has square holes that are punched at regular intervals. They are meant to have clamps and bench dogs so that a work piece can be securely held in place. Many woodworkers customize the area below the bench as per their needs. Many like to have cabinets and drawers that can house their other essential tools and hardware.
- The rear of the work bench, many woodworkers have slot cut out such that tools like chisels, drivers, etc., can be slid into it. It provides for an easy access of such tools.
It might sound pretty simple to any novice, but the fact is a workbench is more than just a tabletop with legs, tool well and a few holes punch on the surface. In fact, the better a woodworking bench is planned, the better is its layout, the more useful it will prove. Every work needed for creating a work piece of wood like cutting, shaping, assembling and finishing, can be done right on it.
In order to figure out what kind of woodworking bench will be best for you, do consider the factors listed below:
Shape and Size: All woodworking benches should have a flat surface. However, their shape and size may vary as per the need of the project that needs to be carried out over it. If you have a workshop that is huge and spacious, you can easily opt for a workbench that is quite large. However, in average, woodworking benches that are five to seven feet long and about two to three feet wide are good enough.
Height: Depending on what is the height of the woodworker who is going to work on the workbench, its ideal height should be determined. In general, it is seen that bench that are of the height of the user’s hip bones are ideal. In ancient times, it was seen that the workbenches had a low height. It was possibly because in those times the tools were powered by human muscles, so applying pressure from above worked in the woodworker’s favor. When deciding about the ideal height of your workbench, you should also take into account the various jigs and bench top accessories that you would like to use to enhance the utility of the bench. This will help you choose the ideal height that will also enable you to accommodate the same.
Portability: Depending on the way you work and the type of projects that you need to execute, you have to decide if you need a workbench that is stationary or portable. If you carry out big projects, you will ideally need a heavy one that is sturdy enough to support the job. However, if you go places to execute projects, you will need a foldable workbench that can be easily transported with you. The bigger the woodworking bench, the heavier it is and the more difficult it is to move. However, the heavier it is the sturdier it is. So, depending on the projects you will be doing, you must make a decision.
Imagine what kind of work bench you will need and what jobs you will use it for and if you know the answers to these questions, you will be able to make an ideal choice. There are some fine details as well that needs to be looked into – like if you are opting for a bench with drawers and cabinets, make room for enough for your feet and toes or else you will end up hurting them every time you use the bench.
If you take into account all the factors listed above and play around them, you should be able to find exactly what type of woodworking bench would work for you.