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  1. This is a work in progress....my main posts will be formed with the final intention of this becoming more of a permanent article on the main site. Wider user input is encouraged as it would be fantastic to broaden the article scope to include the experiences and knowledge of other PG members. Talk about your work area, please! If any of the thread seems somewhat unformed or unfinished, the chances are it is in the process of being edited :-) This article is being written with the intention of documenting my personal build of a heavy-duty workbench and to explore the subject of productive working areas as a wider subject. Fundamentally my bench will be configured for general woodworking use with certain aspects taking into account the demands of luthiery. Although almost all of the design decisions have been laboured over prior to any of this being written I decided not to present the bench as a simple "build project" and instead to explore the design pressures and describe the wider subject matter of workbenches. The estimated cost for my the project itself is low compared to many off-the-shelf workbenches however it does not skimp on the factors that make it more than an "expensive wood table"! The major factors in keeping cost down are purely related to the choice and availability of materials in the quantities, dimensions and quality required. Although the rationale will be outlined later, it is just as justifiable to use inexpensive constructional Pine as it is to use Hard Maple or other similarly costly woods. Equally relevant, the choice of workholding hardware can affect the final figure more than the wood itself....much the same as an electric guitar build! -------- I realised that I needed my own workbench because my current working environment is not a permanent one and changes depending on daily needs and usage. The quality and consistency of personal projects is definitely affected by this as every time I need to move workpieces and set up my working area it invites accidents with workpieces, stock and tools. Not good! Pretty much all of the requirements a workbench would need were right there in front of me. It can't take up massive amounts of space but needs to be large enough to handle my work confidently whilst maintaining a degree of portability instead of being a permanent edifice. These seem like completely incompatible requirements unless careful consideration is taken into balancing them out correctly. Oh, the fun! My initial introduction to the field of fine woodworking benches was through the publications, writings and musings of one Christopher Schwarz. Researching further into projects Christopher's writings have inspired (or have had reference made to) revealed a polarised set of opinions, some unfairly devaluing his work as overly fundamentalist and dogmatic (isn't this a positive definition for those who preserve valuable traditions?), many who formally copy his work to the letter and others who just vaunt the (largely similar) works of other authors. So anyway. The dogmatically fundamentalist work that Christopher HAS done regardless of overcritical online piddlings produced a fantastic pair of books on the subject with much additional materials in his blog posts and other online resources. The first of the books purely describes the detailed construction of an established and very useful 17th-century design and the second more of the rationale behind workbench design along with many other specific bench configurations. The second book is the one I will refer to more than as not. In "The Workbench Design Book" (Google book preview available that link), Christopher goes to some lengths in underlining how the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many (hah) and how defining pressures are paramount to decisions made in a personal bench design. Are you a hand planer? Do you cut lots of dovetails? Do you need to knock your bench down for mobility? Are you a powertool user? Are you working on something as small as a nut or lighthouse walls? Is the bench going to be shared with other people? If anything, this blows accusations of narrow-minded dogmatism out of water.... Not all of us are gifted with the luxury of an excess of space. Some of us - myself included at present - work in shared space where items are often moved into temporary locations which change as the demands do. I am sure that we would all love the opportunity of having a beautiful 12ft length of beautifully-planed French Oak (or five) sat in the best naturally-lit space(s) in a shop with wooden floors for our sole attention. Perhaps some of us do! In that respect I guess I should point out that I am not intended to identify the "ideal" workbench for all luthiers. Surely such a thing does not exist and any attempt to assert to the contrary is bound to fail. Hopefully by the time this article matures, the broad majority of circumstances and setups amateur and regular luthiers will benefit from will be discussed and explored. The overall point being to describe what works, why and for whom certain ideas will be of the most benefit....not just those for my own bench! I warmly encourage others to fill in the blanks or correct me where my knowledge fails me. So let's sit down with an Irish Coffee and look at where this journey is going to take me, why specific decisions were made (or yet to be made given that at the time of writing the project is yet to make-wood-smaller) and how this can be extended into making or upgrading your own workspace....
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