It seems lately there has been some discussion on bench height. Well, at least Paul Sellers has been talking about it a lot. He has also been collecting data from people on their bench height, among other things, to determine the bench height most individuals prefer. (see here)
Why is this topic such a big deal. Well, like myself, I built a workbench according to the wise words of the ancients. Those words or phrases that we all read in books about bench height. Statements like, as tall as your wrist is from the floor, to the height of the joint of your thumb, up to your belt or belly button, just high enough that you can place your hand flat on the surface of the bench with you arm fully extended. There are many formulas out there to determine the proper bench height for you. However, they may not be the best way to choose.
Some of the other determining factors deal with how you will work at your bench. Are you a power tool user? (taller bench), do you only use hand tools? (lower bench), will you be using wooden bench planes?(even lower still), etc etc.... These are important questions, but they may just make things even more complicated for new woodworkers who haven't been working long enough to really know. Or, like my self, it may make things harder for someone who is changing they way they work.
When I built my workbench and started this blog I was switching gears. I have always used hand tools, but I mostly used power tools/machines in the past. I had never spent hours working with hand tools at a bench, just little bits here and there, and that makes a big difference. You can work at a bench that is not the best height for hand tools for short periods of time, but over long periods of time you quickly know something isn't right.
This is with two 2x4's attached to the bottom.
So, let me talk about my bench. I built my bench low, why? , because I was going 100% hand tools. No thickness planer, no jointer machine, no table saw, everything was going to be done by hand. I read many books, listened to many individuals advise, and decided that 33" was right for me. I am 5'11" and it seemed about right, though my measurement from my wrist to the floor is 34". When I first started working on the bench I thought it was fine. At about 9 months I decided it was to low, so I raised it 1 1/2" by attaching a 2x4's to the bottom of each leg. This made the bench 34 1/2". Not a bad height. My back felt better and things were definitely easier to see. I worked on many more projects and still felt the bench was to low.
Current height in relation to my arm and wrist.
So, about 3 weeks ago I glued up two 2x4's and attached those to the bottom of each leg. Now my bench is about 36" tall. Still 2" less than what Paul Sellers prefers, but higher than any of the old methods I have read about for so long.
So, then the question is. Is 36" the right height for me? I have no idea. I will just keep working on the bench and over time the answer will become evident. I can say that at 36" the bench feels even better. Maybe in about 5 years I will know the right height for me and build myself a new bench.
Till next time, get in the shop and have some fun.
Thanks for visiting.