The Perfect Bench Height | what height should your Woodworking Bench

The Perfect Bench Height | what height should your Woodworking Bench

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What is the perfect bench height? when building your first bench this can be a hard one to answer. there are a lot of questions that come with choosing the correct bench height. there are a few things to think about when choosing the height of your first bench.

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  1. Richard Wright on September 27, 2022 at 2:07 am

    Good topic. I’m feeling better with my decision on 41”. I’m 6’4”

  2. marvin ostman on September 27, 2022 at 2:08 am

    I watched your video and read some of the comments. My personal opinion is that there is no cardinal rule unless you are going to do the same thing all the time. Myself I did all different types of work. Sometimes I built cabinets and sometimes I did flat work or gluing. My bench hieght was the same hieght as my table saw because I had limited shop space my bench was also my out feed table. It worked or at least I learned to live with it.

  3. Cerberus on September 27, 2022 at 2:09 am

    I’m 6′ and 37.5" inches high works so far. The Moxon vice will be around 6 inches higher yet, once I finish it.

  4. Ernest Vocell on September 27, 2022 at 2:11 am

    I have 2 adjustable benches
    At 5′-2" I almost need Lil tykes ones.
    My wood bench I used metal adjustable staging wheels

    On my metal bench
    I used trailer adjustable jack wheels on each corner
    Both work well

  5. Steve Saunders on September 27, 2022 at 2:13 am

    just built my first proper ww bench. I am 5’9" and made it 35".

  6. Wood By Wright How 2 on September 27, 2022 at 2:14 am

  7. G5Flyr on September 27, 2022 at 2:16 am

    Let me start by saying that James produced (yet again) another outstanding video with very good advice for all of us.

    Not to add more confusion to this topic but…
    Jim Tolpin advocates bench height based on task and span of the hand (fingers extended measured thumb to pinky). Tolpin states his thesis in a YouTube video. You can view it here:

    FYI-I’m 6’1" (73 in) and my bench is 34 inches tall. It is about 3 inches above the pinky knuckle and dead on my wrist joint. That height works for me whether I am planing, mortising, paring-you name it. When dovetailing or some other form of precision sawing I sit on one of my saw benches with the work piece clamped in the bench’s wooden twin screw vise. The saw bench is sized to the height of my tibia just below the knee cap. This produces a perfect sitting height for me. As James has said so many times you have to experiment and do what is best for you. Sorry if this comment was too long winded.

  8. Ryan J. Leonhart on September 27, 2022 at 2:16 am

    Im 6’4" and i prefer my bench around 42"- 43" inches tall so that i dont feel like my back is always hunched over! I used to wok at a cabint and flooring shop and they were always around 36" and it used to kill my back!

  9. Adriaan Flikweert on September 27, 2022 at 2:17 am

    How come that you ware wooden shoes?
    I am Dutch and do like to ware wooden shoes from time to time, but seing an American wear them surprised me a lot.
    I live in the Zaanstreek, which is very near to Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Nederland in Dutch).
    Just north of it.
    That’s where we have the “Zaanse Schans”, an open air museum like a park with about six or seven big windmills and a lot of ancient wooden houses which are lived in by people who can affort it.
    I like your video’s, although your usual entree’s are not my style.
    But that’s probably because I am over the hill (73).
    I love working with wood and believe one is never too old to learn more than he already knows.
    Sometimes I see people on YouTube who do not know their ass from their elbow, but still think they can teach others how to do things better.
    You, on the other hand, seem to know what you are talking about, which is nice to see.
    Good luck with your video making.
    I hope you’ll make a lot more of them, because I think lots of people enjoy them.
    I certainly do.

  10. Mark LePage on September 27, 2022 at 2:17 am

    I’m 6 ft my beck h is 36 inches

  11. Old Farmer on September 27, 2022 at 2:22 am

    At 71, I don’t think I will be building too many more benches. This video is excellent. But remember, the older you are the shorter you will become. I started at 5’11.5" and am now 5’7". One idea is to build the bench low and use spacers between the frame and the top of the bench. Maybe use a couple of 4X4 bolted to the top of the frame with the top bolted to these beams. As you lose height, if need be, you can shave down the 4X4 beams to fit your height. I find I am fairly flexible with bench height, anything from 28" to 38" I can handle. Currently my main bench is at 34 and I have a bench matching the height of my table saw, I believe 35". I also have a Franklin work station, I love the vise, that is quite a bit lower. If I get tired at one height I move to a different height. At my age working on the floor is not going to happen.

  12. YesterdaysVillage on September 27, 2022 at 2:23 am

    I’m 5’7", 5’8" with shoes. My bench is 33-1/2" and the height works very well for me.

  13. Alex Ynema on September 27, 2022 at 2:23 am

    After figuring out the conversion from metric at 6’3" my bench height is 1.1m (sorry 43") and that height came from a comfortable kitchen bench height and prior to me really doing any wood working but I haven’t found it to be too tall for any hand tool woodwork I do.
    Hello from Perth, Australia

  14. James Anthony on September 27, 2022 at 2:23 am

    6:39 Is there any reason why you shouldn’t just start with a tall bench and give yourself a good 6 inches of removeable space at the bottom of the legs? Start tall and remove a couple inches if it isn’t comfortable?

  15. Darcy Hourd on September 27, 2022 at 2:28 am

    Hi James, great topic! I’m 6’1" with a 36" bench, which I’ve found over the past 25 years to be the best compromise for most hand tool tasks at the bench. For sawing I have a dedicated sawyer’s bench made specially for my knee height.

    As for anyone making a bench the second consideration is bench mass, no matter what the height, if the bench moves, sways, or shakes, its not a bench.

    Your comment on the English benches being lower is because the wooden planes will add 3" to the height for planing unlike a metal plane, so a 34" bench is really a 37" bench, so the 36" I use is a good compromise for using metal and wooden bench planes.

  16. Larry Wiltse on September 27, 2022 at 2:30 am

    Or build your bench with a pneumatic height adjustment if you intend to do more than planing and sawing, such as gluing, assembling, finishing, … I hope I did not create a new product with this comment.

  17. Heavy Metal Life on September 27, 2022 at 2:30 am

    All My benches are 35", I’m 6’2", all based on my table saw height, if I was to build all again I would go 38"

  18. JeanMi on September 27, 2022 at 2:32 am

    My "bench" is fixed on a wall so changing it’s height is not really possible going up or down. That’s said I kinda did what you suggest running around the house and thus I’m pretty with its height as is. In order to try a higher bench what is possible is to I have a 4cm thick piece of MDF (with dog holes that line up with the bench holes) and with dowels underneath that allows to locate it securely on the bench top. Kinda like what you did to make your sticking board but wider if that makes sense. The main problem is that it does not raise the vice, but to plane surfaces with plane stops it works great. Its primary use was to have a surface that I can put on saw horses to have another working surface but I build it so that it can also go on the bench and be secure way to raise the work. That’s at least a way to raise your bench. If with use you find out you never remove this top surface then its probably the right time to build a higher bench.

  19. Kevin Kelly on September 27, 2022 at 2:32 am

    I’m 5′-10", I built mine at 36" which was the height of a cabinet I used first out of necessity. It felt comfortable so I went with that number figuring I could cut it down if I had to. It’s fine so far!
    James, your survey is a great idea! I find your videos interesting and engaging, THX brother!

  20. Daniel Bohrer on September 27, 2022 at 2:36 am

    I’m currently working on an improvised bench on sawhorses, and I noticed that when I joint edges, I always tilt the plane to the far end of the board, out of 90 degrees. Of course it’s not a problem if I edge-joint two bookmatched boards at the same time before gluing them, but I wondered if this could be fixed by raising the bench higher…

  21. Keith Garcia on September 27, 2022 at 2:38 am

    I don’t know buy the low bench being so you can lean in to avoid sharpening. The low "ideal" height for (English) planing works with the technique of bending the knees to dip/lunge into the cut, to recruit the larger muscle groups for power, endurance, and better control compared to mostly using the upper body. It depends what work you do most though since it isn’t the ideal height for sawing though. If you’re not sitting to chisel or adding a moxon to saw, it might not be YOUR ideal height. Eg. If you do mostly sawing at the work bench vs a saw bench, especially if you use machines for most milling, a higher bench might be YOUR ideal most of the time. Jim Tolpin’s got a great article on ideals for the main types of work based on bio mechanics and strategies to take advantage.

  22. Mr Mowbody on September 27, 2022 at 2:39 am

    I’m 6′ tall and I work will all sorts of material. Mainly wood. My main vice is a wood working vice level with my benchtop. All my benches are at 40"

  23. Art Steadman on September 27, 2022 at 2:39 am

    To each their own

  24. Alex Johnston on September 27, 2022 at 2:40 am


  25. Michael Clark on September 27, 2022 at 2:41 am

    I built my bench to be 36" because I need it to double as an outfeed table for my table saw. I’m 5′ 9" and the height of the bench is totally fine.

  26. Danny Brand on September 27, 2022 at 2:43 am

    Great Info: thank you.

  27. Graham Cranston on September 27, 2022 at 2:43 am

    Am I not allowed to have a 42 in. bench? I’m 6 ft 4 in., and sits about mid-forearm. I think I’d like to cut about 3.5 in. off it. Coincidentally, there are 4×4 "feet" on the bottom of my legs that will come off as soon as nothing else is on the bench so I can flip it over and do it. So maybe in another year.

  28. Levi Lam on September 27, 2022 at 2:44 am

    Build high… trim it down to whatever comfortable

  29. michael norris on September 27, 2022 at 2:44 am

    I’m 5’ 7” and my work bench is 18 1/2” high. I sit on it.

  30. Cass Selwood on September 27, 2022 at 2:46 am

    I’m 6′, my bench is 32" high. I needed it to work for my wooden jointer plane, as well as for my metal Stanleys, not to mention all the other tools.

  31. Jim Carter on September 27, 2022 at 2:46 am

    Wow, tried standing on 1 1/4 inch board, made planing much easier. Always have to put excessive pressure to start plane and end up with hollow, even with sharp plane. Guiding saw was off, but would most likely corrected with body geometry. Paring hurt my back right away, but might just take getting used too. Now I have to figure out whether to lower some. Dam, what a dilemma.. 67 inch ht.- 35 inch bench.

  32. David Hull on September 27, 2022 at 2:47 am

    I got lucky and found my perfect bench height by chance…..I bought a festool MFT3, and the 900mm (35. 1/2" ) top is fine for about 95% of my work. I’m a whisker under six feet tall.

  33. Jason Price on September 27, 2022 at 2:49 am

    It is an excellent topic, and yeah, first workbench is not THE work bench. My Rex Kruger Joiners bench is quite low, great for trueing out rough stock and getting started. A bend in the knee and weight behind the foreplane can clean up a board quickly, and get the heart pumping. I am finding it too low for sawing, marking out and chiselling.
    In the process of making a Shannon Rodgers Joinery bench much higher, and will probably do a third at some point. Probably a Roubo or anarchist. After that? Probably something else but that will be for whatever need I have. (given I went from Japanese saw horses, to low Roman bench ,to London style joiners bench, I should probably make something besides additional work holding at some point)
    I really like this Jim Tolpin video as a guide, but then I like the by hand and eye design philosophy.

  34. Normand Leblanc on September 27, 2022 at 2:52 am

    I’ve built my bench 15-17 years ago. At first it was 34" (I’m 5’8") and my sharpening technique wasn’t great, a lot of downforce was required. As I got better at sharpening I raised the bench to 35" for a few years, then I raise it again to 36" and it stayed there for a long time. Two years ago I began fabricating my own wooden planes and this raises your hands by ~ 2". At the time I tought that I should lower my bench again but didn’t do it. Today I’m very happy to work on a 36" tall bench with wooden planes.

  35. Lane SynKer on September 27, 2022 at 2:52 am

    I am five 10 and my bench is 31.5 inches.

  36. Boone Co Woodwerks on September 27, 2022 at 2:52 am

    5’9" with a 33" bench height. I had been planing atop a piece of 3/4" ply resting on my table saw for several years. I found it to be exhausting at 37" tall. New bench allows me to plane for much longer with less fatigue.

  37. Wouter Engels on September 27, 2022 at 2:53 am

    6’1", bench is 40". You could have added a power tool dimension (the more power tool, the lower the bench, I’d guess). Curious to see if you’d be able to map the data to specific schools of thought regarding height.

  38. Danny Hale on September 27, 2022 at 2:53 am

    Does anyone with low back problems have advice for me, for when I build mine? I’m 6’2". I’m also a line of duty disabled paramedic. Spine injury. They had to cut me out of my ambulance after an old lady hit us and we overturned. I had lumbar fusion & laminectomy surgery. I’ve got a lot of soft tissue and nerve damage, because it took me 20 years to find a doc who could diagnose and fix my spine. Bending at the waist gets really painful really quickly. Just wondering if anyone with a similar injury has already done the trial and error thing to figure out their height. If so, any advice you have would be appreciated. I know I’m going to have to find my happy spot myself, but maybe you guys can tell me things to avoid, or things to try in the process.

  39. Chris Holmes on September 27, 2022 at 2:53 am

    Jim Tolpin video, 4 of your hands.

  40. Jesse Terpstra on September 27, 2022 at 2:53 am

    Apparently by the results, I’m short and my bench is exceedingly average 🙃

  41. Ian Pearse on September 27, 2022 at 2:55 am

    Hi James. I am 5’8” and my benches are both35 1/2 inches. My saw horse is the perfect height for an olde timey woodworker like me at 19 1/2”. LOL

  42. Mr Robs Cleaning Service on September 27, 2022 at 2:56 am

    I am 6ft 4 and my work table is 36in

  43. David Gee on September 27, 2022 at 2:59 am

    You can always experiment by sliding a board under the legs at each end to raise the bench, or stand on a plank to lower it, once you know what suits you best either cut a bit off or glue and screw some blocks under each leg, or if you prefer different heights for different tasks make a nice looking piece to easily achieve the changes. No need to build a whole new bench, fun as it will be.

  44. Kenneth Speed on September 27, 2022 at 3:02 am

    I’m just under 6’0" tall and my bench top is 34.5 inches above the floor. The best I can say is that it’s a good compromise. I’d like it a bit lower for hand planing and higher for dovetailing, but overall it works well. There is or was a workbench at Hancock Shaker village that was very low , about mid-thigh which was great for a lot of hand tool work because that’s how they did everything when it was made. I think it would leave me in terrible pain if I used it for a few hours.

  45. Dermot Balaam on September 27, 2022 at 3:03 am

    In my ideal world I’d like a bench with adjustable height. That would enable the height to match the task.

  46. Don Williams on September 27, 2022 at 3:05 am


    One of the most thoughtful discussions of the topic I have come across. Thanks for your synthesizing of so many disparate considerations into a cogent and flexible whole. I also note as my back gets older and my eyes get dimmer, I do even more work at an elevated level provided by an auxiliary bench-ette.

  47. Jesse Terpstra on September 27, 2022 at 3:05 am

    Unfortunately I’m 8 days late in adding my info to the survey. I just built my bench, still putting some final touches on it. I built it from plans, not very concerned about the proper height. I figured if it was different by an inch or two from my bench at work it wouldn’t matter because I knew I would adapt to it and not really notice after a while. Coincidentally it ended up being the same.

  48. rotex on September 27, 2022 at 3:05 am

    For a wood carver, take your fist, put it under your chin and your bench should come up to your elbow.

  49. James Williams on September 27, 2022 at 3:05 am

    “As soon as you’re done, you’re going to start to think about things you could do differently to make it a better bench.” Yep. Truer words were never spoken!! 🤣

  50. mystang 89 on September 27, 2022 at 3:06 am

    So bottom line… The side of bench – it doesn’t matter.

    Whether it’s hand tools or power tools – it doesn’t matter.

    Whether something is hand planed or sanded – it doesn’t matter.

    So what does matter? IT DOESN’T MATTER! =D
    Thanks for the great videos seriously though. Enjoy watching them.