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Thread: Building a metal work bench - what dimensions?

  1. #1
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    Building a metal work bench - what dimensions?

    I was gifted a 1800x1800x950 metal welding / work bench, and I plan to make it a more manageable size for my modestly sized, iron-clad oven shed.
    A customer of mine working a contract job 'whacked it together' then needed it gone when the job was complete. Score!

    It's rather well made - All in all, it weighs about 150kg. It has a 3mm plate steel top, 3mm plate steel middle storage layer, all tied together with 50x50x5mm angle. It even has a stainless steel angle 'gutter' and a home-brew vice on it for the pressure pipe welding which it was originally used for. ...Also pretty handy to catch those rolling bits and pieces that inevitably fall on the floor.

    I've purchased the steel to make 1 big bench 2 rectangular ones- 4 leg sections, and a number of braces that will stiffen the plate steel top up a little more. I also have some heavy plate that will make a good anvil surface / vise mount point, if I wish. I will also put some angle on the back to stop things rolling off the back, and make an attachment point for a back-board if required.


    As for the modification, I was originally just going to lop it in half, but I do have the ability to make it narrower, taller or even shorter.
    Ideally I want to have it as an assembly bench, I'm just working out the details on what people have found to 'work' for them.

    I googled 'ideal work bench dimensions' and 'work bench ergonomics' but quickly got baffled with lots of BS.


    So, what have you got, what would you change?



    -Mitch
    'El Burro' 2012 Defender 90.

  2. #2
    Homestar's Avatar
    Homestar is offline Super Moderator & CA manager Gold Subscriber
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    Donít make it too low! With a vice mounted on it, the jaws should be level with your forearm when it is horizontal - was taught this in the training annex when I did my apprenticeship and it is spot on IMO. If itís too low, you back will ache when using it to build something on.

    Nice place to start, sounds like a ripper deal. 👍


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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homestar View Post
    Donít make it too low! With a vice mounted on it, the jaws should be level with your forearm when it is horizontal - was taught this in the training annex when I did my apprenticeship and it is spot on IMO. If itís too low, you back will ache when using it to build something on.

    Nice place to start, sounds like a ripper deal. 👍
    X2
    cheers chris


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    X3, with another vote for not to low.
    PaulT

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    Forgot to mention, I've got some HT 3/4" bolts and nuts to make levelling feet for it, which will add a little to the height, but I can always cut the legs down if required.
    I'm an average height person, so I'll suss out how it sits and evaluate from there.

    Also scored a record #3 vise a year or so back, but need to give this a bit of love before it goes into service. It doesnt open up when unscrewed, might need grease, a new washer, or a trip to the bin
    Thinking I'll tap some threads to bolt this vise to the plate I have to go on top. 20mm, baby. Gonna get me a hernia.
    -Mitch
    'El Burro' 2012 Defender 90.

  6. #6
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    Another vote on the height!
    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toxic_Avenger View Post
    Forgot to mention, I've got some HT 3/4" bolts and nuts to make levelling feet for it, which will add a little to the height, but I can always cut the legs down if required.
    I'm an average height person, so I'll suss out how it sits and evaluate from there.

    Also scored a record #3 vise a year or so back, but need to give this a bit of love before it goes into service. It doesnt open up when unscrewed, might need grease, a new washer, or a trip to the bin
    Thinking I'll tap some threads to bolt this vise to the plate I have to go on top. 20mm, baby. Gonna get me a hernia.
    Drop your vice into a drum of diesel and leave it for a few weeks. Have used this to free up a few things in the past.
    PaulT

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  8. #8
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    Gav has a very good point regarding vice jaw tops being level with elbow hight. That will stop you rocking a file too much.
    The best bench I've worked on was just below waist hight, which was great for my back. However if you have to reach to far back on the bench it becomes bad for your back.
    I'd be happy to have your problem if you can't solve it.
    Cheers, Billy.
    Keeping it simple is complicated.

  9. #9
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    Started the job by tacking a brace onto either side of the future cut. I just lopped it in half with a handfull of 1mm cutoff wheels.


    This is the vise that was made for the table. the table is handy for building itself!


    Had to add some angle to the bottom shelf- it is an overall smaller surface than the bench top... so needed to extend it out to get it to match up to the legs.


    Sometimes I even surprise myself with an absolute corker of a weld.
    This was some 6013 GP rods, run at about 140A on the machine... but on the end of a 30m lead. Tried to do what I could in the flat position, but did have some various success in the vertical position too.


    Also added some 50x50x5 angle under the top plate to stiffen it up, and to stop it being so drummy.


    First bench almost finished. It's a much more manageable size now.


    I just have to cut some steel for the rear 'splashback' which will tie into the angle iron under the bench top.
    Also lop the legs down to a uniform size and fab up a levelling mechanism with some simple plate drilled and nuts welded to it.

    Did it all under the shady tree out front in the dirt, so the latter is easier to do when on somewhat level concrete.

    I'll grab some dimensions when it is on a flat surface.
    -Mitch
    'El Burro' 2012 Defender 90.

  10. #10
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    I had a light duties kind of day today, refurbing the record #3 vice that will go on the bench, after pulling something in my back skull-dragging the benches around yesterday.

    The vice itself has had a very hard life- from what I was told, it was salvaged from a school or TAFE clearing sale, and has all the sins that only 20 years of student abuse could offer it.
    I disassembled and removed a broken bolt from one of the jaws.
    Fell off my chair when I ebay price-checked what new jaws cost... Might stick with the old ones for the kind of use I'll be giving it...
    -Mitch
    'El Burro' 2012 Defender 90.

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