Author Topic: Small space workbench/table for hand tool use?  (Read 616 times)

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Offline hmlee2008

  • Posts: 9
Small space workbench/table for hand tool use?
« on: October 17, 2020, 01:12 PM »
Because of covid I’ve largely lost access to the shared shop I use for most of my woodworking tasks. (Quick-ish trips for power tool use only, basically). I have an extra area in my home that I’d like to set up to let me work on practicing small-scale hand joinery over these next few months. I’ve been searching for a workbench/table solution that will let me do that.

Portable/collapsible would certainly be best (though I’m not sure that’s compatible with hand tool use), but movable on casters would work too.

So far I’ve been thinking of either a standard MFT or of putting an MFT top on to a Kreg universal bench frame with casters, but I don’t know how well either option would work for this. Anyone have thoughts or suggestions?

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Offline Stan Tillinghast

  • Posts: 117
Re: Small space workbench/table for hand tool use?
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2020, 02:31 PM »
I think an MFT would be too shaky for planing; and any caster arrangement would need to have the casters so they can be moved up out of the way so there is a solid foot on the ground.

Offline woodferret

  • Posts: 22
Re: Small space workbench/table for hand tool use?
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2020, 02:52 PM »
Because of covid I’ve largely lost access to the shared shop I use for most of my woodworking tasks. (Quick-ish trips for power tool use only, basically). I have an extra area in my home that I’d like to set up to let me work on practicing small-scale hand joinery over these next few months. I’ve been searching for a workbench/table solution that will let me do that.

Portable/collapsible would certainly be best (though I’m not sure that’s compatible with hand tool use), but movable on casters would work too.

So far I’ve been thinking of either a standard MFT or of putting an MFT top on to a Kreg universal bench frame with casters, but I don’t know how well either option would work for this. Anyone have thoughts or suggestions?

Compact bench for small-ish hand tool work would push towards a few possibilities:

A) Bench Bull - if you already have a hefty picnic table/dining table to clamp it to.
B) Roman bench - sit on it with your weight for stability.
C) Finn style sawhorse torsion box - modified to be usable as a roman bench with MFT 20mm holes.
D) Japanese traditional woodworking bench.

Kinda depends on your age, weight, agility, and affinity to other types of work. 


edit: throwing in a vid for an updated modern roman bench that'll do a lot of doghole clamping and still be useful for dovetails.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2020, 03:44 PM by woodferret »

Offline GoingMyWay

  • Posts: 1091
Re: Small space workbench/table for hand tool use?
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2020, 02:58 PM »
Rob Cosman sells a video (On Demand or DVD) that includes 2D plans or just the 3D plans to make a hand tool bench out of MDF and plywood for about $100 (minus a vice).

He also sells beefed up castors that can be added, though they're currently sold out. 
Inquiring Minds Want to Know

TS55, CT26, RO150, CXS, ETS 150/3, ETS EC 150/5, MFT/3, TS75, DF500, DTS400, OF1400, CT SYS

Offline Bob D.

  • Posts: 1753
Re: Small space workbench/table for hand tool use?
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2020, 03:07 PM »
I am giving this highly adaptable worktop a try, and so far I like it.

It attaches to the top of a Systainer (or multiple Systainer stacks if you expand it out with additional units).

If used on top of a single short stack of Systainers it makes a nice small work surface with many clamping and holding options while allowing access to the Systainer.

« Last Edit: October 17, 2020, 03:09 PM by Bob D. »
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It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline ChuckM

  • Posts: 2076
Re: Small space workbench/table for hand tool use?
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2020, 03:30 PM »
There're countless options out there. If I were to build a dedicated PROPER, ROCK-SOLID workbench (not a worktable) for traditional hand tool use as well as for non-hand tool use, the MFT table would be a poor choice to me, money-wise or function-wise.

Assuming you're in the States and do not want to build from scratch with lumber, these would be my recommendations (you may shop around for even cheaper versions):

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Gladiator-Adjustable-48-in-W-x-41-in-H-Hardwood-Work-Bench/1000017971

or https://www.lowes.com/pd/Gladiator-Hardwood-36-in-W-x-34-in-H-Hardwood-Work-Bench/999997068

The adjustable one is preferred as you can change its height to suit your body or the type of work to be done when needed: pounding, sawing, assembly etc. You can change the size of the adjustable bench buy cutting down the size of the bench top if it's too big for your place. But I'd:

- add a vise
- add shelves underneath (for storage and added weight)
- buy a pair of holdfasts (e.g. https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/tools/workshop/workbenches/benchtop-accessories/71363-gramercy-tools-holdfast - Canadian site chosen)
- drill holes for use with the holdfasts (a must for my traditional work), and
- install bench casters and modify them (https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/hardware/casters-and-wheels/110198-workbench-casters?item=03J2510 or amazon)

A masonite/hardboard top is optional.

When all is said and done (over a weekend), you'd have a custom, solid traditional workbench for pretty much the cost of a bare MFT table, if not for less. Depending on the occasion, you can even wheel it to the kitchen for a feast, too! [big grin]
« Last Edit: October 17, 2020, 04:16 PM by ChuckM »

Offline woodferret

  • Posts: 22
Re: Small space workbench/table for hand tool use?
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2020, 06:35 PM »
ChuckM, I've got those casters as well and joined them as you did.  I don't have the extra lever though.  When does that come in handy?

Offline ChuckM

  • Posts: 2076
Re: Small space workbench/table for hand tool use?
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2020, 07:42 PM »
WF,

My bench sits tightly between a trolley and a compressor. Instead of removing both of them out of the way first every time I need to move the bench out (e.g. for case assembly work), I engage the casters with the handle.

Offline derekcohen

  • Posts: 490
    • In The Woodshop
Re: Small space workbench/table for hand tool use?
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2020, 08:57 PM »
Because of covid I’ve largely lost access to the shared shop I use for most of my woodworking tasks. (Quick-ish trips for power tool use only, basically). I have an extra area in my home that I’d like to set up to let me work on practicing small-scale hand joinery over these next few months. I’ve been searching for a workbench/table solution that will let me do that.

Portable/collapsible would certainly be best (though I’m not sure that’s compatible with hand tool use), but movable on casters would work too.

So far I’ve been thinking of either a standard MFT or of putting an MFT top on to a Kreg universal bench frame with casters, but I don’t know how well either option would work for this. Anyone have thoughts or suggestions?

Since the bench will be small, how to make it withstand the forces of hand planing and chisels is a priority. It will not have mass to aid here. Therefore it is recommended that the top is screwed/bolted to the wall. It is amazing how much strength this creates.

A face vise is needed, and a bench stop would be a great aid. An end vise would be a bonus.

This style of mini bench, but on legs, and screwed to wall, would be one option ...



Link:  http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ShopMadeTools/BenchInAWeekend.html

Regards from Perth

Derek
Visit www.inthewoodshop.com for tutorials on joinery, hand tools, and my trials and tribulations with furniture builds.

Offline RussellS

  • Posts: 308
Re: Small space workbench/table for hand tool use?
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2020, 09:56 PM »
What exactly do you mean when you write "hand tool use"?  Do you mean traditional hand tools that use your muscles to power?  Such as saws, chisels, planes, spokeshaves?  Or do you mean smaller portable power tools such as circular saws, drills?  If the first, then what others have said about mass, bolting it to walls for stability, and vices is right.  But if the latter, then just being able to clamp the work might be all you really need.

From my use of planes and spokeshaves on my big heavy oak workbench, you need big, heavy, massive.  Little and light and movable (wheels) is not going to work.

Offline mkasdin

  • Posts: 283
Re: Small space workbench/table for hand tool use?
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2020, 10:38 PM »
What exactly do you mean when you write "hand tool use"?  Do you mean traditional hand tools.. From my use of planes and spokeshaves on my big heavy oak workbench, you need big, heavy, massive.  Little and light and movable (wheels) is not going to work.
retractable wheels and add weight, which doubles as storage, 3 #90lb bags of cement or boxes and boxes of nails an screws would help. Not sure what you’re making or the frequency, but a good start is a thick laminated top, then sturdy legs. Roubo or Moravian are good workbenches. The above poster said Rob Cossman had plans so does Paul Sellers. I also think the young Brit Guy Matt Estlea might have done a work bench build. If your just cutting dovetails and using small planes a sjoberg style smart vice could work on top of a MFT style table. Don’t expect miracles!

Offline demographic

  • Posts: 609
Re: Small space workbench/table for hand tool use?
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2020, 06:02 PM »
Pretty sure I'd be going for the Morovian style bench as shown on Youtube.
Portable, heavy, resists planing forces and easy to dismantle.

I have a bench top that I plan to build a Morovian style base for when I get the time, I've got enough hardwood to do it.