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View Full Version : The Luthiers Workbench - pics?



sharp21
10-20-2011, 05:03 AM
What kind of workbench do you all use?

I am planning the bench build for my new workshop & have been doing a lot of reading. I'll be building furniture as well as ukes so was planning on a traditional european style bench, but then I got The Workbench Book by Scott Landis which has a section on lutherie in it.

He says that generally the luthiers bench is quite a bit higher due to the nature of the work & often times is cobbled together with plywood & 2x4s, with old cabinet drawers shoehorned in. He figures this is due to the scale at which they work & "are often neophytes when it comes to furniture - & the workbench is essentially a piece of furniture, so they tend to be rough hewn."

The benches at CF Martin are cabinet makers benches with special jigs fitted to the vices.

The book had one excellent example of a purpose built bench. Richard Schneiders bench (http://books.google.ca/books?id=BNGE4D70TyYC&pg=PA193&lpg=PA193&dq=richard+schneider+luthier+workbench&source=bl&ots=HWeHwuJUk6&sig=8-kzO1t9OsF35lbHNbrRo7zg4nI&hl=en&ei=SCigTpLpIMqtiAKy5q1n&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=richard%20schneider%20luthier%20workbench&f=false) (scroll down one page to view) was relatively narrow & had a cut out on one end. He would build his guitars on building boards which he would attach to one of the "outriggers". This was he could access the work from 3 sides & actually keep it off the bench, which was used for holding tools, etc.

I'm thinking of a bench that splits the difference in work height, then makes it up with a box that lives underneath the shelf in order to get elevated for planing large pieces...

What kind of benches are you all using?
S.

ksquine
10-20-2011, 08:35 AM
I can't take a photo of my bench because its covered with junk. I think there's still a bench under there somewhere :D

Pete Howlett
10-20-2011, 08:45 AM
My benches are firedoors on top of kitchen cabinets. Makes everything the right height for me and allows me to replace, build a workshop quickly.

Steve vanPelt
10-20-2011, 08:52 AM
I can't take a photo of my bench because its covered with junk. I think there's still a bench under there somewhere :D
+1. I could post a pic of my benches, but you wouldn't see much bench.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-20-2011, 09:09 AM
Decide how you want to work first. I wanted to make things easy on my back and my eyes so I made all my benches 40" high. Sometimes I work standing, other times I'm sitting on a tall bar chair/stool. Seems ideal for me. An inch or two can make all the difference in the world if you plan of putting in long hours at the bench. You might even consider different heights for different tasks.
Pete's idea is a good one as it is infinitely adjustable. You could play around with different arrangements and heights.

hoosierhiver
10-20-2011, 09:32 AM
These are pretty good.
http://www.harborfreight.com/garage-shop/workbench/60-inch-solid-oak-workbench-93454.html

sharp21
10-20-2011, 09:36 AM
I'll be building furniture as well & definitely have aspirations towards a "proper" bench.

As the bench height is preferred to be lower for planing, or at about wrist height, I thought I would build it +5" from there, then have a full length 5" box that slides under the shelf. That way I'll have the higher bench for uke building while still being able to adjust my planing height!

I was also thinking of adding 4 holes on one end to attach a go bar deck directly to the bench. Its a small space so I am looking at versatility.
S.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-20-2011, 10:00 AM
If space is tight consider using a deep cabinet over part of your bench to act as a go-deck.

PelicanUkuleles
10-20-2011, 10:44 AM
My bench is made from 2 stacked 4x8' sheets of Maple Plywood with a maple hardwood trim around the edge. The legs were from a pile of 2 X 4's I had on hand.
I wanted to be able to walk around the whole table and this gives me several work stations on one bench. It is a very sturdy and heavy bench.

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Localele
10-20-2011, 11:55 AM
My advice is to take your time to plan your bench.Treat it like a new instrument and plan it all out .Don't scrimp on materials and build it strong and accurate.Remember that everything you build after it will be built on your new bench.So flatten and smooth the top to a high degree.Allow a system to lift your bench top height.It doesn't have to be high tech,simple as putting blocks under the legs but it will make your bench work better for you.
2909129092290932909429090

Micheal.

Timbuck
10-20-2011, 12:04 PM
Whatever you start with will soon change...if there is a flat surface something will be placed on it..if the item has a flat top something will be placed on top of that if there is a space anywhere something will be put in it..and so on and so on.. untill you can't find place for anything..so you extend the workshop:)..and it all starts again.:(

erich@muttcrew.net
10-20-2011, 12:40 PM
Ours is a rebuilt old kitchen table, but alas it is likewise covered with work at the moment - although I just cleared it last Sunday :\

finkdaddy
10-20-2011, 12:57 PM
I love my workbench! It's made from a length of salvaged bowling lane. It's maple, heavy as hell, and super thick. Next summer I'm going to build a proper base for it.

Michael Smith
10-20-2011, 01:18 PM
29095 80% of my time is spent at this craigslist freebee teachers style desk. In my area in a month or two I could get as many of these for free as I wanted. I have a couple in my office in the house and this one that I have added a vise to and binding set up to this one in my shop. These old desks have deep beautiful oak dovetailed drawers and when screwed to the wall are solid as a rock. If needed another free standing workbench I would put a couple of these back to back, raise the legs 6" and throw a top on. If you use a craigslist notification tool you will be the first to the scene when one comes online.

ukulian
10-20-2011, 01:38 PM
Glad you guys have room to take pictures of your benches!! ;)

ksiegel
10-20-2011, 02:24 PM
My benches are firedoors on top of kitchen cabinets. Makes everything the right height for me and allows me to replace, build a workshop quickly.

That is a perfect description of my Stained Glass workshop bench!

(Of course, I also bought a 24" square Tool Display Stand from a hardware store that was closing, and it is the perfect height (40") for the glass grinder... and has a tall back plane that I've got reflector lights mounted on.)


-Kurt

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-20-2011, 02:25 PM
I have 40' of bench surface. Unfortunately it all pretty much looks like this.

PelicanUkuleles
10-20-2011, 03:07 PM
Whatever you start with will soon change...if there is a flat surface something will be placed on it..if the item has a flat top something will be placed on top of that if there is a space anywhere something will be put in it..and so on and so on.. untill you can't find place for anything..so you extend the workshop:)..and it all starts again.:(
So True! :biglaugh:

thistle3585
10-20-2011, 04:52 PM
I pulled out one workbench and am installing a pedestal stand with a parrot vise in it then I'm going to mount a bunch of tools to work boards that I can in turn mount in the vice. Things like a mini router table, bending forms, buffing wheel etc. I like to be able to walk around a project as I'm working on it. I am looking for one of those rolling carts that school cafeterias use to put trays in but to place the tool boards in.

Liam Ryan
10-20-2011, 05:08 PM
My advice is to take your time to plan your bench.Treat it like a new instrument and plan it all out .Don't scrimp on materials and build it strong and accurate.Remember that everything you build after it will be built on your new bench.So flatten and smooth the top to a high degree.Allow a system to lift your bench top height.It doesn't have to be high tech,simple as putting blocks under the legs but it will make your bench work better for you.
2909129092290932909429090

Micheal.

With benches that good, you can probably take the training wheels off.

resoman
10-20-2011, 06:27 PM
I have 40' of bench surface. Unfortunately it all pretty much looks like this.

I feel a lot better now!!! :)

ukegirl13
10-20-2011, 07:38 PM
My main bench is so small (2' x 4' that a good friend helped me build several years ago) that I have to constantly put things back in their proper spaces to be able to work at all on it. But one good thing is that it makes me very organized. I have since expanded that space but I have to tell you, I just luuuuuve my little work bench! A workshop is like a purse, the bigger it is the more things you put in it!

ukegirl13
10-20-2011, 07:39 PM
Whatever you start with will soon change...if there is a flat surface something will be placed on it..if the item has a flat top something will be placed on top of that if there is a space anywhere something will be put in it..and so on and so on.. untill you can't find place for anything..so you extend the workshop:)..and it all starts again.:(

Ha ha. Spot on Timbuck!

Timbuck
10-21-2011, 06:29 AM
I have about 30 sq foot of bench and I seem to have about 4 foot of it to work with....this is what I had to face this morning..
I have started to tidy up since then..But I still don't know where to put stuff :(
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/PICT0012-4.jpg

Vic D
10-21-2011, 08:08 AM
This is my upstairs bench. All material except the frame around the pegboard was rescued from dumpsters. The drawing shows the shelves I'll be adding, cubby holes for plans and illustration board /art pads on the left, three small drawers in the center and three large drawers on the right. It's 36 inches high and a little over 5 1/2' x 2 1/2'.

I watch craigslist for bamboo flooring when I have the cash. Eventually it'll have a bamboo top, bamboo pole sides and a tiki hut top with lighting. Tiki bench.

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Vic D
10-21-2011, 08:11 AM
And these are the dungeon benches. The Stanley planes are the first thing I look at when I enter the dungeon. They don't know it but that stack of cherry below them is their future home with room for other occupants. I wonder if I'm the only one on the builder's forum with a roll of toilet paper on my bench.
With my carpentry skills and this house being built in 1904, there's not a single flat surface to be found, that's why if you look close you'll see glass plate and 1/2" thick sheets of acrylic here and there... all saved from dumpsters of course.

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dustartist
10-21-2011, 07:07 PM
29153
This is an older model Festool table I have been using. Good for some stuff, but I need a higher bench as well.

sharp21
10-22-2011, 05:03 AM
29153
This is an older model Festool table I have been using. Good for some stuff, but I need a higher bench as well.

What kind of vice is attached to your bench? Is it specific for instrument building?
S.

saltytri
10-22-2011, 05:15 AM
What kind of vice is attached to your bench? Is it specific for instrument building?
S.

It's a Parrot vise:

http://www.lmii.com/CartTwo/thirdproducts.asp?NameProdHeader=Shop+Fox%99++Parr ot+Vise

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-22-2011, 07:06 AM
It's a Parrot vise:

http://www.lmii.com/CartTwo/thirdproducts.asp?NameProdHeader=Shop+Fox%99++Parr ot+Vise

Make sure you get the cork lined jaws for it too. I got mine cheaper at Grizzly.

Gmoney
10-22-2011, 07:29 AM
Make sure you get the cork lined jaws for it too. I got mine cheaper at Grizzly.

I got mine off of Amazon for about the same price as Grizzly's & "free shipping" since I use Amazon Prime. It was one of the tools that Kathy Matsushita mentions:

http://home.comcast.net/~kathymatsushita/amateurluthier/htmlpages/toolshtmlpages/versavise.html

And Frank Ford talks about here at frets.com:

http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Luthier/ProductReviews/Tools/ParrotVise/parrotvise.html

Gradually building up a set of tools & loving this workbench thread.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-22-2011, 07:52 AM
These vises work so well for the price I bought two of them.

Pete Howlett
10-22-2011, 08:17 AM
I have two Zyliss vices - latest video shows the last incarnation before they were discontinued from their line. Parrot vice is great; however these, for me, work better.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-22-2011, 08:49 AM
I have two Zyliss vices - latest video shows the last incarnation before they were discontinued from their line. Parrot vice is great; however these, for me, work better.
I bought a Zyliss based on the recommendations I read here. I hated it and dumped it after a couple of months. Good for some things I suppose, but not for me.

erich@muttcrew.net
10-22-2011, 09:25 AM
Make sure you get the cork lined jaws for it too. I got mine cheaper at Grizzly.

I just cut out strips of 3 mm cork plate to fit our vise and stuck em on with double-sided tape. They're starting to wear out now, after a few months, but cheap and easy to replace - all for a few cents.

Timbuck
10-22-2011, 09:31 AM
Here is a bargain..But it's too far for me to collect.
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ZYLISS-MULTI-VICE-/220875266626?pt=UK_Hand_Tools_Equipment&hash=item336d311a42

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-22-2011, 09:47 AM
Here is a bargain..But it's too far for me to collect.
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ZYLISS-MULTI-VICE-/220875266626?pt=UK_Hand_Tools_Equipment&hash=item336d311a42

Watch out. I bought mine "brand new in the box" from ebay and could never get the jaws to line up properly.
The nice thing about the Parrot vise is it's unique swivel locking mechanism. Plus the ability to quickly change the jaws to a horizontal position (which I never use.) You can also adjust the jaws to line up perfectly. A Lot of vice for the bucks.

Pete Howlett
10-22-2011, 10:21 AM
My Swiss made zyliss are precision made, faultless. That eBay auction is expensive but they did cost the 200 he claims and all the bits are there. I got my original for 120 in 2000, my vintage for 30 and a spare for 45 both on eBay. Horses for courses as they say. I used to have a pattern makers vice whenn I worked in Ohio - useless!

ukulian
10-22-2011, 11:58 AM
29163I don't know about workbenches, this is my entire workshop! ;)

Vic D
10-22-2011, 02:37 PM
29163I don't know about workbenches, this is my entire workshop! ;)

What type of wood is that?

sharp21
10-22-2011, 05:11 PM
What other vices are you guys using? I was just planning on a regular face vice
S.

dustartist
10-22-2011, 06:15 PM
I really like the Parrot vise. It is very reasonably priced from Grizzly. Although not shown in the vise in the picture of my bench, the jaw liners are laying there on the bench top. I was probably using the vise for something where I wanted the metal surfaces. The great thing about the cork lined jaws are that they are self-aligning, so they work well on tapered pieces, like necks. I think they are a must for this vise, but you could make a pair.

ukulian
10-22-2011, 10:49 PM
What type of wood is that?

It's Walnut, grown about 100 yards from where you see it!

Vic D
10-22-2011, 11:04 PM
It's Walnut, grown about 100 yards from where you see it!

Ah. I love the tan to smokey brown color transition in those pieces and I love working with walnut, one of my favorites. And although I slightly overbuilt my first walnut uke I really liked the sound coming from it. Are you making instruments out of those pieces?

Liam Ryan
10-22-2011, 11:32 PM
Here it is. Walk around bench. nice and high so I don't get a sore back. You'll notice the super high tech bender. Why people get carried away with flash hot pipe gizmos and contraptions is beyond me.

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Timbuck
10-22-2011, 11:54 PM
I have 40' of bench surface. Unfortunately it all pretty much looks like this.
I've been studying Chucks bench photo again..it seems he has something at the back of his bench that I don't have..It looks like a "Box of money"????:D

Rob-C
10-23-2011, 12:30 AM
Here's mine:
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ukulian
10-23-2011, 12:41 AM
Ah. I love the tan to smokey brown color transition in those pieces and I love working with walnut, one of my favorites. And although I slightly overbuilt my first walnut uke I really liked the sound coming from it. Are you making instruments out of those pieces?
Yep. Reckon on getting 2-3 Guitars and around 15 - 20 Ukes out of that one. It is one of four from the same tree, all 4" thick and near 7' long. :)
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sharp21
10-23-2011, 03:41 AM
I like you shop Liam, seems well organized. Is that a spray booth in the background of the 4th picture? I've been considering putting one in but its going to be a pretty small space... Not sure what the best way to approach that will be.
S.

Flyfish57
10-23-2011, 04:36 AM
Here's my main bench...after looking at the photo, I now realize why I can't find anything. Time for the great Sunday morning clean up!
I like the Grizzly vice as well. The quality isn't anything near as good as the Snap-On Bench vice I bought 25 years ago(i'll snap aphoto after I clean up that bench later today!). The handle feels and sounds cheap. I might feel better if I change it out with a hardwood dowel.
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bluesuke
10-23-2011, 05:38 AM
This is some of my work space. I love my Zyliss vise

Vic D
10-23-2011, 07:31 AM
Yep. Reckon on getting 2-3 Guitars and around 15 - 20 Ukes out of that one. It is one of four from the same tree, all 4" thick and near 7' long. :)
29199

Even prettier now. You're lucky, I have to travel almost an hour one way in any direction to find wood like that. These city folks look at me and scratch their heads when I ask about tonewoods. Although people around here are always giving away trees as long as you cut it down and haul it out, my back can't do that anymore. That's a nice stack.

Of course there is walnut to be had around here but not in large sizes and not at good prices.

Ken W
11-09-2011, 06:36 PM
It's interesting to see your benches and how you all arrange your work areas. Would that my bedroom looked as nice as boydellinii's work space. Pictured below is what works for me. My shop is tiny, so the tool cabinet is the only way I can keep my tools from taking over the space. The oak for the bench came from some old barn beams and my workhorse vice is a sturdy Columbian 7-CD. I mounted the Parrot vice and a utility vice on separate bases that easily and quickly clamp into the Columbian when needed. I'd love to have space to have all of these mounted permanantly, but that is not the case. The only other flat surface is an old countertop that covers my compressor and some storage. The Zyllis mounts nicely to this space and gives me a little more room to plane scarf joints, carve necks etc.

sharp21
11-18-2011, 10:54 PM
Thats a nice looking little shop Ken
S.

Mark Roberts Ukuleles
01-05-2012, 06:54 PM
I have three benches, but my newest is by far my favorite. My Salon Bench. Check it out. You can do everything on it in less space.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=205661699464123&set=a.158182737545353.35004.158169180880042&type=3&theater
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PhilUSAFRet
01-06-2012, 12:09 PM
These are pretty good.
http://www.harborfreight.com/garage-shop/workbench/60-inch-solid-oak-workbench-93454.html

:agree: My son just bought one of these as we plan on doing some some basic lutherie work, cigar box instruments, upgrades, etc. A quality bench for this kind of money. Shipping kinda pricey, but if you have a Harbor Freight nearby, no problem.

sharp21
01-06-2012, 12:13 PM
Those are pretty nice, but a bench like that should be scratch built!
S.

Pete Howlett
01-06-2012, 12:50 PM
I never have tools over the workbench...

tattwo
01-06-2012, 01:01 PM
I never have tools over the workbench...

The risk of them falling bothers me

Ken W
01-06-2012, 01:31 PM
I never have tools over the workbench...

It's working for me, but he cabinet is also on a french cleat and could be easily moved if needed. The problem in this space is that there is no other wall space available. What do you prefer, Pete?