Jack Bench Adjustable Workbench Design
How The Jack Bench Works
The working height of a Jack Bench can easily be adjusted up or down to suit whatever task you are currently working on, and it can be used with a cordless drill or crank handle to operate the up-and-down feature.
Also, using the second jack, the workbench can be lifted up onto the built-in mobile base so that anyone can move it around. Additionally, this feature can also be operated with a cordless drill or crank handle.
Basically, there are three things that make the bench work.
Telescoping Workbench Legs
The legs on the bench base are actually torsion boxes. Torsion boxes add strength and stability with less weight and lower cost than solid materials. Each “leg” is comprised of two torsion boxes. These boxes slide past each other allowing the bench top to raise or lower as needed.
Scissor Jacks For Adjustable Height Benchtop & Mobile Workbench Base
The benchtop is raised and lowered by an ordinary automotive scissor jack, such as the one found in the trunk of your car.
Also, to move the bench around, a second scissor jack lifts the bench off the floor and onto the mobile base. This jack sits on the cart and when the jack is raised up it picks the bench up off of the floor and onto the cart. This allows for the bench to be wheeled around as needed.
Now, when the first Jack Bench was built I used a jack from a Honda Civic for the mobile base. We have found recently that the bench sits more level and is more stable if we use a motorcycle jack for the mobile base.
Pipe Clamps Hold The Workbench In Place Securely
What holds the bench in position while it is lifted up and makes it so solid is a set of ordinary 3/4″ pipe clamps. These pipe clamps extend all the way through the base and clamp the torsion boxes together. This locks the telescoping legs into one solid base unit. To adjust the bench you loosen the clamps by about one turn each, then adjust the scissor jack until the bench is where you want it, then all you do is tighten up the clamps and you’re done!
Versatile, Customizable Workbench Design
The Jack-Bench design, at its heart, is extremely customizable. When I came up with this workbench design, I wanted something that I could change and add to if necessary, and this feature of the Jack-Bench has resulted in no two looking alike. The one I built has the following features:
- 350-400 lbs.
- Minimum height of 29”, Maximum height 43”
- Square bench dogs
- One Veritas Twin Screw Vise and one standard face vise
Of course, you can build your bench however you want. You could install a pattern makers vise or leg vise, put dog holes in in the center of the benchtop or use round bench dogs. You could build your own benchtop or buy a pre-built one from a number of different vendors. The Jack Bench plans call for a benchtop that measures 32” X 62”. But you can build yours to just about whatever size you want. The lower part on the base of the bench is 27” wide, so I would not advise a benchtop less than 27” wide, but you can make it wider than shown in the plans. The top could be 36” or maybe even 40” wide, as well as up to 70” long, without needing to change the dimensions of the base.
Also, the bottom side of the benchtop has been left open to accommodate for access to holdfasts and other accessories, and to allow access to the lifting mechanism. Additionally, a few shallow drawers could be installed, although there really isn’t enough room to store bulky items such as routers.
Another option for storage is to make the bottom part of the base wider. Actually, the bottom part of the base could be the same width as the bench top. If you make the bottom the same as the top, which is 32″ wide, then you will have room to install 5″ wide shelves on each side of the bench. That would look like this:
This bench is truly customizable and I think that’s why there are so many variations of it around. Feel free to look through the photos of what others have built and see if any spark your interest for what you might need. I think you’ll like what this bench has to offer.
DIY Jack-Bench Workbench Material Costs
The basic bench, without vises, runs about $500-$600 to build. Of course, should you have any of the hardware needed, or any lumber that you aren’t using, the bench would run less expensive. Additionally, a discerning shopper, or one who has a good source of lumber, could also save on the price of the build. A new Veritas Twin Screw Vise would increase the price of the bench by about $250 or so, and a standard face vise is about $150, although both could be less bought used. The total to build the first Jack Bench, with both vises mentioned above and show-grade exterior lumber, was about $900-$1000. But again, because this bench is so customizable, that can vary widely depending on how you shop and what you want to add or take away.
Additionally, the tools required include:
- Circular Saw
- Biscuit Joiner
- Jig Saw
- Assorted Hand Tools
Ideally, you will also have:
- Table Saw
- Drill Press
- Jointer and Planer (if you want to mill your own lumber)
Jack Bench Workbench Design Plans
The plans that you will receive for the Jack Bench are professional CAD drawings on 11”x17” ledger-size sheets. They come with:
- Exploded Views
- A Complete Cut List
- A Complete Hardware List
- Paper Templates for Cutting Bench Dog Holes
- Paper Templates for Matching Bench Dogs
Along with the plans, you will also get easy, step-by-step instructions that include:
- Tricks and techniques to make sure everything fits perfectly together
- Illustrations that make it easy to understand
- Recommended Hardware Vendors
- Operating instructions
And to ensure that everyone can use them, all the plans and instructions have been reviewed for accuracy by a mechanical engineer with several patents to his name.