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I'm planning on building a new workbench in the near future. I've decided to build the top using 4 sheets of 3/4 ply. I think l'll make it 30x60 or 70.

I have two questions

1) What should I make the height bench. I have seen plans for 32", 34" and 38".

2) As for the end vise, which vise should I go with.

Option a) Veritas® Inset Vise http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=66819&cat=1,41659

Option B) Jorgensen® Quick-Release Steel Bench Vises

http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=65572&cat=1,41659

Thanks

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I have asked this question of several people. Being six foot four creates problems for me and my back. The answer that I have received several times is arms down palms flat and comfortable. What is the measurement. That's your height ish. When I said I feel it should be higher the response was you are working on the table, but what is going to be on the table. I took the cryptic, yoda like answer to mean my project will sit proud and then the height will be perfect.

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Hellfish, question... why is it that you are going to use ply for the top? Is it a cost thing or is it a material thing? I think that you would probably be better off usng doug fir or something like that than ply. As the top get beaten up, and it will, with the fir or Southern Yellow Pine (SYP), if you can find it, you will be able to hit it with a plane or something to get a nice new surface again. WIth ply, you are going to go through the veneer and youa re going to have crap plys underneath. If you do use ply, you might want to think about using a surface on the top that you can replace. That is jsut my opinion. Good luck with you bench build. I learned a lot with mine and had quite a bit of fun too.

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....

2) As for the end vise, which vise should I go with.

Option a) Veritas® Inset Vise http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=66819&cat=1,41659

Option B) Jorgensen® Quick-Release Steel Bench Vises

http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=65572&cat=1,41659

Thanks

There is a big difference in the two vises you are looking at. The inset vise is a fairly small unit, good for light holding. It seems far too small for the size bench you are planning. The Jorgensen is more in keeping and would have much more versitility. Will this be the only vise? if so, then that is what I would get. Even better, although a little more, is the Veritas sliding tail vise. But you would also want a front vise with it.

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Sac, one of the main reasons for going with ply is cost. And the second reason is the lack of clamps. I don't have nearly enough clamps to clamp the boards together to build a laminated top. I do realize to cons with going with plywood top. When it comes time to replace the top hopefully I'll have enough clamps and my skills will allow me to build a proper top.

Eric

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Hellfish,

The bench height really depends on what you are using the bench for. Typically power tool users should take the palm method and add and inch or so. Hand tool users can usually run with the results of the palm method and sometimes take an inch off. I built one bench at 32" and have found it a bit tall and built my second bench at 29". I love the 29" for planing and mortising. However, for cutting dovetails even my 32" is too short. I think I am eventually going to build a Moxon screw vise or a mini-bench to sit on the big bench.

I have seen the quick-release style vises used on benches as an end vise and they work really well. Chris used one on his Holtzapffel Workbench.

Hands down though the benchcrafted vise is the best end vise choice on the market today in my opinion. It is pricey, but worth every penny and graces my version of the Holtzapffel bench.

Josh

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If you are not familiar with videos by Keith Cruickshank do yourself a huge favor and check them out.

This one is about workbenches.

This guy produces the highest quality woodworking videos you have ever seen. His editing is so spot on that he stuff is really better than anything on TV.

Edit:

He doesn't say what height he makes his bench. He mentions at 8 min 30 sec that "you can see that the height is perfect for working". The idea is the height has to be tailored to fit. He does go through how to use each of the three vices he has installed and what each is for. That should give you some ideas on what you might want.

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As a quick aside, and a second vote for comfortable height, blacksmiths state that the comfortable angle for the anvil, which happens to be the workbench they most commonly use, is to hold the hammer in your hand, rest it on the face of the anvil, and your knuckles should just lightly kiss the anvil face with your elbow comfortably extended, but not over extend your arm. your wrist, also, needs to be in a "natural" position. Namely, not bent or kinked in any way.

The idea is to let the hammer do the work, not your arm. Do you really want to swing a three pound sledge all day and force it to make metal conform, or do you want it to be nearly effortless?

I'd suggest, for your workbench, you grab a few of the tools you think you'll use most, and set up a "test table" on a stool or some piled up blocks of whatever. Act like you're in the middle of a cut, or planing down a side, or drilling, or whatever. When you find a comfortable height, put the tool away, get out your measuring devices, and find out how high your test table is. Then, remembering you need to take into consideration leveling devices or wheels, or whatever, write this number down and find out exactly how much space some of these levelers will take up. Better still, get a hold of one of the casters or levelers you plan on using, and set it next to your test table. Take a second measurement from the top of the caster plate, or leveler, or whatever, to the table top.

And consider a smaller bench or risers you can set on top of the bench for that close-up work that will not fit the "average" work you will perform on this workbench.

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