Building a guitar repair bench. Looking for tips on how to do it right the first time.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by straightblues, Jan 3, 2018.


  1. straightblues

    straightblues Member

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    I have been repairing and assembling my guitars on the kitchen table for too long. I am going to build a workbench just for guitar stuff. Any and all tips would be appreciated. Here are a few questions:

    How tall should the work surface be? Do you work standing or sitting in a low chair or high chair?
    What are good dimensions for a guitar workbench?
    How many shelves to hold tools?
    Should parts be stored on the workbench? Do you have a good solution to holding parts?
    Is pegboard a good way to go?
    Do recommend adding a vice?

    Thanks
     
  2. AceBSpankin

    AceBSpankin Prince of Ales Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    1. depends on how tall you are, make it right for you!
    Kitchen counter is around 3' off the floor for reference, does your back hurt when you do dishes:D make it higher!!
    I stand at my bench.

    2. mine is in my garage so... 38in high, 28in deep, and 8' wide.

    3. the more shelves you put up the more cool guitar tools you can buy:aok

    4. mine gets cluttered all the time, I use everything from little tupperware to beer glasses for storage
    clear storage lets you see contents!!
    Your Wife and Kids will add stuff to be fixed all the time.
    So... bigger is better and the more storage rocks!!

    5. I have the wall covered with pegboard behind my bench,
    great stuff mine is a newer product from Amazon, all metal with lots of different hooks, shelves and storage solutions.

    6. I have a vice on mine and it is well worth the space it takes up, definitely:dude

    I added a set of big deep drawers on the right end to make an L shape out of the whole thing
    it works great.

    Most importantly...
    Don't forget lighting!!!
    You can't fix **** if you can't see it:beer
    The lighted visor magnifier thing from StewMac is the best tool I have bought!!
     
  3. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Member

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    I wish I had room somewhere to build a guitar workbench. I'm real interested in seeing what you come up with. Please update the thread when you get it figured out. :)
     
  4. Jack Daniels

    Jack Daniels Supporting Member

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    My last dedicated bench for this was 28” deep and 6 ft wide. This allows you to work on a 17” wide arch top and still have room behind it for tools you are using. 24” deep is ok, if you are only working on solid body electrics. I had upper cabinets on the left and right sides with peg board in between for my most used tools. I stand while working on guitars, so my bench is 38” tall and a tall bar stool works fine for sitting (I’m 5’9”).

    That said, I also had a dedicated fretting station set up for pressing frets in that was 24”x32”. It also had peg board behind it with those tools needed to fret guitars.
     
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  5. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too much bench space.

    I prefer to have bench heights set for standing work. It's too tall for a chair, but you can always build/buy bar stools, which will seem like a good idea but will generally just use up real estate and give you something to trip over or get in the way of sweeping/vacuuming or other activities. You wanna be standing because you're gonna be constantly reaching for tools that are just out of reach, and getting up and down will wear you out. Plus, you wanna have some leverage on a lotta things or be able to put a little weight into an operation, and it's better if you're standing for those things.

    How high depends on how tall you are, but figure half your height. So, if you're 6', then 36".

    Leave room to the sides of a generous area that'll hold a whole guitar for fixture-type tools like a drill press, fret press, nut sander, a rotary vise, etc. 8' is a good length at first. You'll eventually want 16' in an L shape.

    Also, don't discount the utility and convenience of portable benches like Black & Decker's "Workmate" units. Buck and a quarter gets you a whole lotta bench that you can beat the snot out of, plus they can be folded up and stashed, or moved to wherever it's convenient for you to work. I have 3 of them, and don't know what I'd do without them. Very handy.
     
  6. straightblues

    straightblues Member

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    Thanks for the input guys. You got me thinking.
     
  7. Ayrton

    Ayrton Member

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    I started with one from Harbor Freight, and have expanded around it. Eventually, I would like to purchase a second one and have them back to back.

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. massacre

    massacre Silver Supporting Member

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    This guy builds a lot of guitars, I watched the videos and I might not build mine exactly like his but he has a lot of good ideas for sure. I found the videos informative

     
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  9. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    One thing I might add is this: You have to be absolutely ruthless about keeping your bench top clear. Even a small bench is a Good Thing if its area isn't consumed with the detritus of "other things". It's very easy to let things accumulate on there since it's an open flat surface, but you have to fight that like a bull terrier. If you're married or have kids/pets, you have to seriously threaten them. Tell them you will beat them within an inch of their life it they ever set anything on your bench. Otherwise, it'll be useless so fast you'll be all sorts of pissed off and you'll have nobody but yourself to blame.
     
  10. Ayrton

    Ayrton Member

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    Preach brother!

    I make a point to clean off everything and vacuum the carpet at least two or three times a week. Nothing brings calm to my world like a clean work surface
     
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  11. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    absolutely!

    my own curse is to be naturally inclined towards a cluttered messy bench, so i'm fighting that in myself all the time. i'll grab a tool, use it, and then it seems to disappear out of my hand in a puff of smoke while i'm reaching for the next tool, and soon they're in a pile all around me.

    i long ago figured out that my best defense was to make a raised body rest as well as a neck rest, a 20" or so piece of about 1x3" wood with thick padded leather on top sitting to my right on the bench, so that the guitars never had to actually rest on the benchtop itself at all.
     
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  12. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    Absolutely. What if you brought your guitar someplace for whatever reason and they guy wasn't diligent about his workspace? Pick it up later and it has new scratches on its back that didn't come from Robert Palmer's backup singer chicks?
     
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  13. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    I wouldn't call that a curse; it's just the natural flow of work. Different thing altogether. You have to keep your tools close at hand when you're working on something. It's not only nothing to be ashamed of, it's the sign of an efficient worker. Why would anyone put a screwdriver back in its resting place when you're going to use it 25 times in the next hour?

    Ever watch Saturday Night Live back when they were funny? I'm talking about 100 years ago, when Phil Hartman was still alive. You don't wanna be the "Anal Retentive Luthier" <grin>
     
  14. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    "and after each use the screwdriver gets wiped down with an alcohol pad, slipped back into its own little screwdriver cozy with a drawstring tie and placed back in its designated foam cutout in the screwdriver drawer..."
     
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  15. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    LMAO! Yeah, that's him. Too funny.
     
  16. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    phil hartman was indeed the man.

    love his "what if?" reagan:
     
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  17. John Thigpen

    John Thigpen Member

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    I was going to recommend this, but you beat me to it. I got mine for $128 and could have gotten it for $115 if I had wanted to wait for a Black Friday sales. Also, I was watching a StewMac video filmed at Dan Erlewine's shop and saw that he had one as well.
     
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  18. tonyhay

    tonyhay Supporting Member

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    Don’t know if this helps but I found it interesting....

     
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  19. burningyen

    burningyen Gold Supporting Member

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    "While I'm emotionally attached to this thing, I'm glad it's dead."

    lol, Evan's awesome.
     
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  20. tonyhay

    tonyhay Supporting Member

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    Yeah, I’ve never met him but from that vid I’d trust him with any of my guitars.
     

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