It seems that I’ve taken a non-traditional approach to the work bench.
Google ‘woodworking bench’ and you’ll find an ongoing competition among those claiming to have created the Ultimate Workbench. You’ll find exquisite variations based on a familiar tradtional pattern. Impressive indeed, but I’d be afraid to make my lunch on some of these heirloom-quality, statement-piece masterworks, much less defile them by actually using them.
I do like some of the clamping and work-holding features these benches feature, but the work surface seems too tall for for a good portion of the work that needs to happen, and they seem a little unstable for rythmic, multi-directional hand work, unless bolted to the floor, which interferes with re-configuring the shop space as needed.
After years of working in various shop and field environments, I have come up with a table that I’m pretty fond of. Actually, let me back up and say that I’ve come up with a set of guiding principles that seem to work for me.
- The table is a tool that will be used.
- The table is subservient to the job at hand.
- The job is ever-changing.
- There is no single perfect table.
Most of us undertake projects that require varying technologies. There’ll be a layout phase, machine work, hand work, hardware modification and finishing. Ideally, there will be a dedicated work space for each of these, but most of us need to perform multiple operations on one or two surfaces.
At the same time, we’ve all learned over the years that having work surfaces at a variety of heights can make it easier on the back, eyes, and other assorted body parts.
There is no single perfect table.
I’m lucky enought to have primary woodworking table that I’m pretty fond of, a workbench for general mechanical work, a set of trays that can be moved about for mixing and prepping finishes, a small rolling bench for applying finishes and a small welding table. The top of the bench and band saws offer auxilairy space, and a good set of horses complete the stable.
My Primary Woodworking Table:
My Mechanical Workbench
My Rolling Finishing Stand
My Versatile Vice