Monday, 16 March 2015
Ideal Workbench Height
I know this is an emotive subject, if you talk to Chris Schwarz or Richard McGuire they will advocate a low bench height of around 33". But most everyone else I know prefers a higher bench and that includes me. I've made benches from 37" - 39" high over the years and have settled on 37" as my ideal height, I can hand plane comfortably as well as cut dovetails and I can sit at the bench with my knees under like a desk. Interestingly an article comparing benches in Fine Woodworking a while back also found the most comfortable working height was 37", I think this was on a Lie Nielsen bench.
I was reading Alan Peters great book the other night when I came across his views on the ideal work bench.
In his words, 'The illustration shows what I consider to be the ideal cabinetmakers bench, European in pattern. If you decide to make your own, do research the best height for you - all purchased benches appear to have been designed for midgets, or rather they are based on traditional patterns for chopping mortises and for hours of heavy hand planing. My four purchased benches sit more or less permanently on 6" blocks to eliminate backache'.
By my reckoning this meant all the benches in his shop were about 38" high and Alan was by no means a tall man.
So with my hat thrown into the ring in favour of higher benches, I'll leave you with some shots from his great book. Although written in 1984 it is still mostly very relevant and still in print 31 years later. If you don't have a copy in your woodworking collection, get one!