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Lay Out a 60" Split-Top Workbench

I had someone ask how I would lay out the top of a smaller workbench recently. They had ordered plans for a bench but it was 84" rather than the 60" length that would fit in their shop. I keep story poles of all my workbench layouts, so I thought it would be an easy question to answer.


After digging through all the places I could hide a five foot long story pole, I COULD NOT find it. Then I looked back through my bench builds and now I'm pretty sure I've never built one. I guess now is as good a time as any to figure it out. I've also just finished reading "The Anarchist's Workbench" so I thought I might look at it through that lens since I'm starting from scratch. More on that in another post.



I spent 2 years as a field engineer working from both good and bad architectural drawings, so maybe I should mention the measurement scheme on this image. It doesn't look as elegant in print, but pulling all your measurements from the same edge is an excellent way to avoid errors. When you simply list the distance between points of interest you can introduce error in one of two ways:


1. You screw up the math when converting the dimensions to the format in the drawing above.

2. You make a lot of small marking errors as you work from measurement to measurement across your work.


The measurements along the top of the drawing refer to the locations of dog holes, while the measurements along the bottom refer to the locations of structural elements of the design.


My customers almost always specify Benchcrafted vises. The tail vise cavity shown here is the shortest length you can make it without having to trim the length of their screw. You do, however, have to trim the length of the guides on the underside of the bench if you don't want them to interfere with the tops of your legs. If you want less overhang on the vise side you can get it by trimming the screw as well, but I don't think I would add more overhang.


If you think you can get by without a tail vise (hint: you can), I'll show how I would do that tomorrow.


If you have any comments or you discover an error, please let me know.

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