A BIG AND HEARTY BENCH-HEIGHT THANK YOU ALL!!!
I can’t believe the response to the bench height survey and i hope that it is not yet over. There are some very conclusive proofs in this and I am working toward the conclusion that will save many backs and eyes and necks and head aches (two words). This is just a quick THANK YOU to everyone for the effort they put forth. I have been working on many other key factors and will publish soon so people can evaluate for themselves and now make some educated decisions based on what you and others are saying. Of course I have my own take on this too so please be patient. My drawings are taking some time to pull together as I strongly dislike digital drawings, charts and pie graphics for art work.
Also, if you would like to still participate we’ll take it. Here are the details we require. We want as many people to participate to increase the accuracy of our findings. YOU matter!
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.
Or go here for original posts and requests.
Actually, I feel vindicated. The old school of course was the lower bench and when I made mine, it was 36″ tall and I caught some grief over it. To the point, I was advised to cut the legs down. For some reason, the 36″ felt good to me and I never changed it. This was prior to the time I knew of Paul Sellers and now I feel vindicated and that I wasn’t off my rocker. I’m going to build a new one, and if anything, will raise it an inch or so – Thank you.
I’m a bit late to the game, but I’m really glad you brought this up, as my back has been hurting for years from using my bench. I actually added blocks to it earlier this week as a result of your blog.
Current bench height: 38
Prior to adding blocks, the bench was 34″, with a satisfaction of 2. I think I will add an extra 2″. My back is better, but still has room to improve. It sounds like its hard to go too high, based on your experience with shorter folks finding a 38-40″ bench comfortable. For what its worth, I built it from plans from a magazine. Interestingly they recommended a higher bench for power tool use, but lower for hand tools. They also had the face vise located on the far left end. I’m about to move it to the inside of the leg. I like that your bench has more room to the left of the vise.
There you go. Most magazine editors sell advertising and are not woodworkers really. Therein is the whole problem.
I’m getting ready to build a wooden woodworking bench. Based on advice from a woodworking guru, I planned to make the bench top level with my palm with my arm down by my side. I think the theory is that when you plane, you need your body weight to press the sole of the plane onto the wood, and you need to be above the saw when you are sawing, so you can see both faces. What I am finding is that when I am chiseling, paring, or cutting dovetails on my Workmate, I get a backache, because I need to bend over to do those operations. Some advocate the use of a Moxon vise, which raises the work, for those operations. Please tell me what you think about those ideas.
Personally, I think they are just about all wrong.My bench would indeed be about 34 1/2″, way too low for all planing, 95% of sawing, chiseling, scraping and so on. On a broader base, our R&D shows consistently that almost all woodworkers regardless of height find 34″ way to low for real woodworking. We will be publishing our findings soon and so you can evaluate for yourself what to do. In the mean time, make your bench higher or raise the one you have and wait until we publish our findings.
I look forward to reading your results. My wife and I both have lower back problems (I’ve had 2 spinal surgeries and she has chronic muscle spasms). The little Workmate portable workbench is way too short for both of us so I’m trying to figure out a way to raise it up without losing stability. I’m going to try using a folding table that has adjustable heights and see what works best for both of us. I think if you must be in a position to need your work lower, it would be easier to make some shorter sawhorses. However, I would say most day to day projects are probably about waist height.
I work in healthcare and when we transfer patients from bed to gurney we always make sure they are raised up to hip level to avoid back strain. Yes it’s a different body movement but nothing makes sense to be below your pivot points.
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