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ryandetzel

How to fix(level) a wobbling workbench.

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I threw this together over the past couple of days to replace my old really bad workbench but its not quite level and it wobbles too much for my liking. The legs were all perfect but I'm guessing my joints were not so one leg is about 1/4" too small thus the shims(lower left). In addition if I shake the top the whole table moves so I'm worried when I put the vise on and try to saw or chisel things will be just as bad as before. How can I stabilize this, what's the best way to level the legs now that everything is built? Should I add some more supports to stop the wobble?

The top is damn heavy, it's two pieces of 3/4 ply with a 3/4 MDF center. 7' long by 2' wide.

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Even if the legs are perfect, the floor might not be. I'd say either trim the other legs, or get some adjustable levelers.

As for the wobbling, if you mean 'racking' where the enire thing twists, you need sturdier joinery. If it's something that could be fixed with more weight, then run some long stretchers lengthwise betwen the short stretchers at the bottom of each side, and put a few bags of concrete or some other heavy items on it. Then put some shelving across the (existing) stretchers running along the front and back and put a shelf on it, to cover the weights and give you some storage space.

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Even if the legs are perfect, the floor might not be. I'd say either trim the other legs, or get some adjustable levelers.

As for the wobbling, if you mean 'racking' where the enire thing twists, you need sturdier joinery. If it's something that could be fixed with more weight, then run some long stretchers lengthwise betwen the short stretchers at the bottom of each side, and put a few bags of concrete or some other heavy items on it. Then put some shelving across the (existing) stretchers running along the front and back and put a shelf on it, to cover the weights and give you some storage space.

What's the best way to trim the legs so they are perfect? Should I attach the top to the legs first then tip it on it's side and try to level it that way? Maybe upside down? The table rocks with pushed...not a lot but enough that if I'm planing it will shake.

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Nailing a 2x6 into a notch in the leg is one source of flex in the base. Even if the fit is perfect, the compression of softwood will allow the joint to flex. If you were starting from scratch, I'd suggest either a mortise and tenon (glued) or bench bolts (disassembable) to make this joint. You could salvage the project by removing the nails, gluing the 2x6 into the notch and adding blocks above and below the 2x6 to bear against the legs. Additional stringers at the top of the legs would also stiffen the structure and provide better support to the top.

The 2x4 stringers between the legs at each end should also be M & T joints. There should also be stringers at the top of the legs since 2x4's are not strong enough to prevent flex.

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They are big lag screws now, if I remove those and put bolts in with this be better? I'm going to add top braces tonight very similar to what's on the bottom but 2x4 only. Should I bother notching or just bolt a frame to the top?

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Here is what I have now and here is what I was thinking. That and changing the lag bolts to carriage bolts. Would this stabilize it enough?

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Adding the top stringers will help stabilize the bench but it is hard to tell if it will be sufficient. If it is still wobbly, you could take it apart and reassemble it with all the joints glued as well as bolted.

Mike

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Notching, if done well, can help stiffen things up. Gluing the joints even more so. Lag bolts can hold perfectly well if all the clearance holes are done properly. I would screw a plywood shelf onto the lower stretchers to help prevent twist. The bench top itself can act as the top stretchers if the system of fastening it on is robust enough. You could add some hanging knees or gussets between the lower stretchers and the legs to stiffen things up. You could also build some plywood carcasses with open faces to store planes on or hold clamps and screw those to the frame ends which will limit racking.

The suggestion of weighing it down is well worth it. Box in that lower stretcher and fill it with gravel, sand, whatever.

As for the uneven legs, If they are all the same length, and square on the ends, they should obviously be even. No floor is dead level however so I would add levelers. Lee Valley and Rockler both stock a variety that wrap onto the side and bottom of your leg and work really well. http://www.rockler.c...&filter=leveler

http://www.leevalley...0993,41283&ap=1

Don't be afraid of your first bench looking like Frankenstein. You'll get more out of it by making it stiff and using it a lot. It will greatly inform your decisions for the next bench. I've been putting off building myself a new bench because I'm afraid I'll build it too nice. I'm not afraid to pop a nail or screw into my current one and that comes in real handy. I made a false top for my melamine covered layup bench for that very reason.

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So I added top supports and put carriage bolts in and that made a huge difference. It still has a little wobble when I'm sawing but I'm hoping a shelf will help that. The bench top is warped up but nothing rolls and it's hard to notice unless I point it out but I learned a ton from building this. Took about a week including finishing which is what I wanted, a quick bench to get started on "real" projects. I'm guessing in a few years I'll be ready to build me real workbench once I've had more experience.

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If it weren't for those pipes I'd say take your impact driver and put a few 4" screws through the rear stretchers into the studs in the wall...that'd eliminate any movement. You could still screw in some spacers then screw the bench to those.

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So I added top supports and put carriage bolts in and that made a huge difference. It still has a little wobble when I'm sawing but I'm hoping a shelf will help that. The bench top is warped up but nothing rolls and it's hard to notice unless I point it out but I learned a ton from building this. Took about a week including finishing which is what I wanted, a quick bench to get started on "real" projects. I'm guessing in a few years I'll be ready to build me real workbench once I've had more experience.

Looks good ! I'm also doing this right now and hope it'll look as good. It'll definitely take more than a week though.

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