Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 4, Issue 2
   November 2009
   What Is It?

What Is It?

If you ask two woodworkers the ideal height of their workbenches, you are probably going to get four to seven answers. There are so many variables and interpretations of correct working positions that there likely never will be a standard that is accepted by everyone. However, as a rule, the following heights have been accepted by most commercial manufacturers and copied by the vast array of homemade workstations produced by craftspeople. For heavy workloads, 28-36" is recommended. This measurement depends on the height of the user and his or her individual wishes, but takes into account that the user applies his or her entire body mass for work such as planing long boards.

For moderate and lighter handwork, 34-37" is recommended and for precision assembly, 37-48" is preferred. As with any situation, there are exceptions, defined by particular trades. For example, benches used for furniture assembly are often only 24" high.

Shown here are two wooden vises of unusual construction. They became part of the Lee Valley Tools collection more than 18 years apart. European (probably French) in origin, this type of vise was marketed as "Étau parallèle de sculpteurs" and was used by sculptors and other craftspeople who needed to elevate a workpiece higher than the normal bench height for fine detailing.

Vise mounted in bench vise   Vise mounted through dog hole
Vise mounted in bench vise.   Vise mounted through dog hole.
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