This question seems as though ot is going to be most helpful on a global scale. I would like to hear from our Aussie friends and our Austrian friends. This in Slovakia and Greece, Croatia, Israel, Latvia, Poland, Belgium and just about everywhere on the globe. I would like to start a collection of notes from people working on workbenches to help us better assess what the real issues are. For far too long I have been concerned that we give some arbitrary height and make it fit our personal criteria. I think it was 20 years ago when I had to start considering my students. Up until then, benches were more generally sized. Because most western men generally grow to an average height of 5‘ 10” and the vast majority of woodworkers are adult men, most, not all, benches can be made to a fairly generic size. It also seems from the responses we have received that other ingredients factor into the equation that we might not have considered or been aware of before. Physical abilities vary markedly between one woodworker and another. I have known this for many years because I deal with som many students in my classes. The backgrounds are as diverse as can be also. Muscle only increases through pressure caused by exercise. This then multiplies the dilema, as what we assess of worth in the beginning may well change through exercise at the bench (workbench not bench presses). Amazingly, some very muscular and strong looking men and women have great difficulty under the stresses of a real woodworking workout at the workbench. Greg, in my class last week, said that at the end of nine days his bad hip improved to the point that he thought he might not need surgery for a replacement. Stamina too is a key issue and of course it therefore means building up otherwise unused muscle in bench work. Cycling and swimming exercises do almost nothing for planing and sawing, even though they all require stretching and strokes.
Bench work is of course a whole upper body workout that does not exclude the lower limbs, and torso. Bench work engages the whole being of anyone working wood in a way that no machine methods do. Because machine methods demand constant safety consciousness and is prevalently dominated by safety alone, it is very different to the realms of hand work where the senses are used very differently. With handwork the concern becomes focussed on other elements and results in a tremendous sense of wellbeing and mental connection to the work in a very different way than we do with machines. It’s great to understand why we feel so well when we exercise in the woodshop, sweat and muscle the small and the big stuff. The exercise is exactly what we cannot get on a tablesaw and computer keyboard and so we feel totally aware, stimulated and engaged when we work with our hands for the main part. Everyone who ever attended my workshops says the same thing. The bench therefor becomes the pivotal anchor to that wellbeing and the bench height custom fitted through an evolving process of trial and error is perfect for everyone.
My goal is still 100 responses. We are 1/20 of the way there. Please contribute and we will have your contributions analyzed and processed for the betterment of woodworking worldwide.
Here are the definitive questions we feel will help establish factual considerations. The more contributors we have engaged in this, the more accurate the evaluation.
Your physical height
Occupation (Present or former)
General health (Scaled 1-5, 5 being excellent)
Current bench height
Satisfaction level (Scaled 1-5, 5 being perfect)
Country living in*
Other information that will help the survey determine more specific issues we might be missing.
*Optional. These questions will help us determine if there is cultural influence on height.
Thank you for your help with this everyone. You are helping your fellow woodworkers with this very confusing issue.