Finding just the right work height for your bench and your power tools can make your time in the shop even more enjoyable. A recent post in WoodNet – The optimum height of a woodworker – got me hard at work copying and pasting smart ideas and methods from WoodNetters.
I found six formulas there, plus one about optimal workbench height from a woodworking tips site. I feel sure there’s more stuff out there on this, maybe from OSHA or something. Anyone have any ideas about the methodologies or science behind finding the best height for tools? I don’t think I know the right terms to search for.
1) Three Tool Height Zones
“The are at least three working height zones: Low (waist?) for power (e.g. TS, jointer, raising panels on RT (hence I also have RT on TS).
Middle (elbow height) for in-between power control and fine motor control, lathe, most table routing, etc.
High (chest) for fine control, e.g., some hand and table routing,”
2) 6’4″ Formula
“I’m 6’4″ and have some back issues having been broadsided by a truck so bending is an issue at times. Here’s my formula.
Lathe – headstock centerline is even with your bent elbow when standing straight.
RAS & TS – table is 4″ to 5″ below the bent elbow.
BS – One I have at 43″ and the other at 48″.
My Stationary Planer and Molding machine I raised up about 6″.”
3) Hands Flat at 45 Degrees
“I have found that if it involves a bench, such as work bench, table saw, band saw, router table, etc. I like the surface at a height that when standing straight up, I have to bend my elbows so that my forearm at 45 degree allows me to place my hands flat on the surface. This seems to negate the back pain issue.”
4) 6’3″ = 41″
“I’m 6’3″ with back problems, and have all my tools at 41”. “
5) 6’2″ = 36-39″
“I’m 6’2″ and find 36-39″ a good working height. More delicate work should be higher.”
6) Keep Everything High
“My drill press table is right at shoulder height. Works well for me.
Good reasons for high tools, tables & benches:
1.) Close to eyes
2.) Less bending
3.) More storage underneath (Whether you need it or not)
1.) Lifting everything up a bit higher”
7) Measure to Your Wrist Crease
“We’ve used a lot of methods to determine the best height for a bench. But one simple method seems to give the best results. Just measure the distance from the floor to the crease on the inside of your wrist.”