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I am planning on building my first woodworking bench based on Rex Kreuger's Quick-stack design. This is a knock-down Roubo style bench where the base is stiffened with wide stretchers instead of mortising the legs into the benchtop. Kreuger's design is for an 84" long bench with a 14.5" overhang on each end to accommodate the vises.

I want to construct a bench that is only 60" long and 34" high. If I maintain the 14.5" overhang then the outside separation between the legs is only about 31". This design looks considerably less stable to me than the original 84" design with its 55" leg spacing. On the other hand there is a lot of mass in both the 3.5" thick top and the legs (I plan to make thicker legs than the original plans) so the center of gravity should be low enough.

What leg spacing is needed to have a sturdy and functional workbench of this type? I intend to use the bench for primarily hand-tool woodworking.

Are there disadvantages to moving my 10" face vise to the right of the leg and eliminating the overhang? I could also reduce the overhang to as little as 11" but this would reduce the jaw grip on the left side.

I have been reading Christopher Schwarz's Workbenches and while there is plenty of discussion about bench length and mass, there is no mention of optimal leg spacing.

Here is a sketch of my proposed 60" bench design:

My Bench

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  • Your bench might be able to carry a greater weight - more significant for metalwork - with closer legs as shown. It will be more stable the closer the legs are to the corners. Which matters more to you? Aug 29, 2022 at 23:00
  • Mike, I think this got one key point sort of got buried: "What leg spacing is needed to have a sturdy and functional workbench of this type?" What is the purpose of this bench? Is it for hand-tool work mostly or exclusively, do you intend to be a hybrid woodworker or is this the bench for a dedicated power-tool guy? Your answer very much factors into what is sturdy and functional enough — pure hand-tool benches have to withstands much more racking forces and pounding than otherwise, and should be built accordingly if they're to work well initially, and to hold up over time. [contd]
    – Graphus
    Sep 2, 2022 at 14:01
  • This also affects the decision on the ideal height/height range, at least as much as your height (sometimes given, falsely IMHO, as the sole determinant) as well as your arm length and overall build.... long legs/short back or the opposite.
    – Graphus
    Sep 2, 2022 at 14:04
  • @Graphus I intend to use this primarily for hand-tool woodworking. I am planning to work on small furniture and decorative items initially. Probably also some cabinetry, but I do use power tools for sheet goods. I am about 6ft tall, and I cut my existing bench down to 34" to try it. The height feels comfortable for handplaning, but I am relatively new to this.
    – Mike
    Sep 3, 2022 at 1:48
  • If you intend to use this bench for hand dimensioning, i.e. the plan is to do most or all of your thicknessing by hand, trust me, you want the bench to be as low as you can comfortably tolerate. This is way below 34" for most six-footers. Heavy planing is the most physically demanding task the bench typically supports, so build around this so you can take advantage of leaning over at the waist and bearing down on the plane with your torso weight, rather than be forced to push down using your muscles (way more punishing, and this is what it's like to plane on a too-high surface). [continued]
    – Graphus
    Sep 3, 2022 at 19:18

2 Answers 2

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Your design should work as designed. Extending the bench beyond the legs is fine at 14.5". The overall weight and length of top should be adequate to prevent any tipping forces at the ends of the top. There are a few other details in your design to consider.

  • Your side vice is positioned at the end of the front face. This limits the length of bench face to the left of the vice to support your work pieces if they are positioned on the left. Instead of a standard vice I used a leg vice to keep the vice further from the end.
  • I made a wagon vice for the end vice and placed a series of dog holes along the front length of the top aligned with the center line of the vise. This allows me to place long boards flat on the top and clamp it at the ends for planing work.
  • I used similar sized legs with morticed ends fitting into the top as well, but never glued them into the top. My bench is currently in my basement, and I wanted to be able to move it in separate pieces in the future. The weight of the top is more than adequate to keep the legs and top together (snug fit) when working and moving it around the shop.
  • I made my legs 5 1/2" x 6" consisting of 4) 2x6 pieces glued together. The two inner pieces create the tenon and I notched the corresponding top 2x4's as the mortice to receive the tenon. This significantly simplified the work necessary to create the joint.
  • You may want to consider a shelf between the legs down low for storage. I used loose pieces of wood for the shelf so that they could easily be removed for cleaning or changing storage needs.
  • You might also consider a flush front apron or sliding panel with intermittent holes to accommodate hold fast clamps to secure longer wood pieces to the side face of the bench.
  • BTW you cannot use mortice and tenon joints at the rear legs as designed in the sketch because of the well.

Good Luck.

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  • I am glad to hear that this design should be stable. I already have the 10" front vise so hope to keep it as close to the leg as possible to maximize work holding on the left edge. This is why I really didn't want to decrease the overhang. I think this is what you were referring to.
    – Mike
    Aug 28, 2022 at 23:46
  • I love the idea of a wagon vise. I may hold off on installing a tail vise and see if I get up the courage to integrate one. I'll probably build some square dog holes into the top when I laminate it.
    – Mike
    Aug 28, 2022 at 23:49
  • Maybe I will use the unglued tenons for the front legs into the top. I had not considered this because it can't work for the back with the tool well. Maybe still worth doing but I have to keep the boards between the legs to hold the top (what are these called?). I'm so used to clamping to my bench top that I'm afraid to go with a wide apron, I think I'll stick with dog holes in the legs.
    – Mike
    Aug 28, 2022 at 23:53
  • @Mike, I don't feel like re-watching the relevant video ATM and the diagram is too small to see this detail clearly, is the top held by dowel joints? I was just about to suggest this as an easier alternative to M&Ts, a la this.
    – Graphus
    Aug 29, 2022 at 18:56
  • @Graphus The benchtop is not secured with dowels but with blocking screwed in after the benchtop is in place. This simple solution looks nearly as good to me as the M&T and stronger than dowels. The tool tray is held by dowels and can be flipped over as a bench extension.
    – Mike
    Aug 30, 2022 at 2:29
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I want construct a bench that is only 60" long and 34" high.

34" very tall for hand tool workbench (3-4" taller than some). Are you 3-4" taller than average?

What leg spacing is needed to have a sturdy and functional workbench of this type?

Impossible to say without actual weight. Type of work that the bench will be used for is also v important element. If you look for images online you will see many workbenches weighing less than yours, with thinner legs and thinner top having leg spacing approx 30-32".

But if you build your bench and discover it sometimes moves it does not matter. This problem can be fixed.

Are there disadvantages to moving my 10" face vise to the right of the leg and eliminating the overhang?

Yes or no. Ask many woodworkers get many answers!

I would recommend you keep some overhang for clamping opportunities on left side. Perhaps 3" (75mm) is optimum but only 1" is acceptible.

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