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How Long Should I Make My Workbench?

This is a question I hear a lot.  My answer, as long as your shop can accommodate.  Longer even.  You will thank me later when you are in the excited throes of a project and you have 9 different things going on at once.  You know what I’m talking about.  Those multitasking moments when you are gluing up panels and cutting joinery while waiting for the panels to dry.  The moments when you are too impatient to wait until all the joints are cut and you partially dry fit your project while still cutting the dovetails on that 3rd drawer.

Here is a shot of my bench last night while I was fitting drawer bottom panels into drawers.

long workbenches allow multitasking in the work shop

On the lefts I have my large panel shooting board set up and I’m shooting the edge of a panel fresh from the clamps.  In the middle on the near side I have a smaller panel clamped with holdfasts and I’m cutting rabbets to fit the panel into the drawer grooves.  In the middle on the far side I have a paring hook set up where I’m smooth planing a completed drawer bottom to remove marks and get is finish ready.  On the right side in the leg vise is another large panel part where I’m jointing the edge to ready it for the glue up.  Finally on the back right of the bench are some assembled drawers with bottoms already fit and ready for fitting in the case.

Let’s see I think I have some space open on the upper left corner where I could begin cutting the tongue and groove into the back panels…

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