Tricks For Working at the Right Height
Optimize the elevation of your workbench for the task at hand
Everybody has an optimum height for their workbench. Standard benches are usually 36 in. tall, but some folks prefer one that’s a bit shorter or taller, depending on their own size. The rule of thumb is that the bench should come up to about your wrist. That’s great for 90% of all bench work, but it’s not perfect for every operation. For example, planing requires more upper body strength, so a lower bench is better. Jobs like carving or sawing dovetails are both easier on your back if the bench is higher.
I have two methods for making my bench higher or lower, and as a result more user-friendly. With a little up-front work, both are quick to implement. I have a platform that lives under the bench that I can pull out and stand on in a minute. I also have an auxiliary bench that I keep close at hand; when I want to do some high work I simply lift it up, clamp it in place, and get to it.
Both add-ons to my main bench have made me a more comfortable and efficient woodworker.
My workbench is 39 in. tall, which is great for the vast majority of my work, even a lot of planing tasks. However, when I need to plane or flatten an entire panel or when I want to sand or plane tabletops or large panels held vertically in the vise, a lower bench surface would really help. Since I can’t make my bench lower, I keep a 2-3⁄4-in. platform under it, fitted between the legs. I pull it out and stand on it, giving me a work surface that’s effectively 36-1⁄4 in. high. If that’s still too high, the platform has two hinged 3-in.-wide boards underneath that I can brace open with…