THE LONG, AND THE SHORT OF IT…..or…..How tall and how long. (CAUTION: yet another workbench post.)

Since pulling the bench top from the wide belt sander, I have been turning my “daily workbench meditations” to the final dimensions in preparation of laying out the trestle base.

My initial, thumbnail sketches of this bench called out for a 7 foot long top, and a final height that was unspecified. I left the door open on height because, my “Beloved bench” was rather tall for me, if the truth be told. At the time of it’s construction, I seem to remember taking whatever the height dimensions of the Acorn or perhaps it was the Klausz bench, and adding several inches to account for my 6’3″ frame.

In use however, I found that it was just a little bit too tall. Since I no longer have any of my shop notes from that build, and don’t really feel like talking with my “Ex” long enough to exchange much more than friendly “Hello’s”, let alone request some quality time with my old bench to get some measurements, I find myself with a completely blank canvas to create on.

Since I have had a chance to ponder the top since gluing, flattening, and squaring the ends, I must admit that the current 95″ length is tempting to leave “as-is”. Lord knows having plenty of real estate could be a real boon in such a confined space.

However, it is because of this confined space, that I am strongly considering lopping off a little less than a foot off the length.

Because I intend to install the bench against the back wall of my one car garage, I think that the 7 foot length would be a better compromise, affording me some extra room to place both my rolling tool box on one side of the bench, and maybe a spot to install a dust collector on the other. In the absence of definitive measurements of the back wall (still working on the garage “clean out”, and have yet to make it all the way back there.) it has been an exercise in eyeballing and imagination regarding the finished length. One other thing that has the scales tilting to the shorter length is that, because of financial prudence being of great import, I have elected to start off with a single, high quality front vise, and forgo an end vise at this time. Since nearly all my wood dimensioning is done with power tools, I do not have an immediate NEED for an end vise. Also, because an end vise would require some 15-16 inches freed up to the right of the end of my bench, holding off on one right now allows me that space for my tool box.

Moving on, the height of this bench has been something of a dilemma for me. Initially, I thought about making it the exact height as the table saw at 34 inches or so. Having spent some time working on the table saw though, I think that this height would end up being too low for any extended sessions of hand working and assembly.

Using my now time tested, and scientifically proven method of “eyeballing”, I am now thinking that a bench of around 40 inches tall should be just about right. The funny thing is, that taking the thickness of the top (nearly 5 inches) and the thickness of both the feet of the trestles and the top bearer rails, the actual legs of the bench will be surprisingly short. At least based on my scientifically proven method for calculation of dimension and cut listing. (guessing).

So for right now, I think I have some focus moving on with this build. The finished dimensions are coming into clearer relief, and decisions are actually getting made and adhered to. I have a couple of smaller decisions to make though, add adjustable feet to the trestle feet for leveling purposes, or not, and where to source the face vise from and whether it should be a classic cabinetmaker’s face vise, or a Record clone/all iron affair, etc. Just a couple more ponderables to nail down. Otherwise it is all about getting the base parts, and joinery cut/fit, and a good finish applied after assembly….well….and the whole issue of cajoling some poor friend of mine who has a truck to help me get the Goliath home….but that is a matter for a later post.

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