Build the Spitz Bench

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  • #49424
    maitai11
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 62
    • Total Posts: 428

    Hi Guys,

    I’ll bet there are a lot of folks who’d like to have their own custom made Spitz Bench out there – and still, maybe not as many as I might think, or Mr. Spitz would like to think! He does seem to have a healthy dose of ego powering most, if not all that he does (interesting story, actually, read his bio if you haven’t already – ) but also some very, very real skills, connections, and let’s just say he doesn’t let his dreams sit and wait for them to happen. He makes them happen! Hell of a watchmaker, too, if I do say so myself. Lead guitarist for Anthrax AND lead complications chief genius for North America for one of the elite watchmaking houses.

    But, who has three grand plus shipping (285 lbs.) to drop on an expertly-made, hand-crafted, artisan piece of amazing watchmaking beauty? If I REALLY wanted one, I could save up, scrape around, maybe beg during Christmas/birthday for “bench money” gifts from those who ordinarily give money (thanks Dad :) ) and just in-general, “make it happen.”

    Or, who would <i>WANT<i> to spend that kind of money? This thing is beautifully crafted, made of American hardwood maple, and is expertly finished and crated for shipping to protect it. I’m not so sure I’d even want to spend $3500 on a bench (although, I know they go for $20,000 – check out that U.K. supplier.)

    So, what if YOU wanted to MAKE your own??? Here’s kind of the beauty of the thing. Time to use bullets:

    – The design is simple (notice, I didn’t say EASY…)
    – It’s easily reverse-engineered. There are some measurements, and one could extrapolate the rest by using some basic shop math.
    – There are NO drawers. That would be a deal-breaker for me. Couldn’t do the dovetailing, etc., confidently enough. Also, I don’t really care for the design of the benches of old. This is so much more modern, streamlined, not cramped, has the armrests, and just appeals to me more aesthetically.
    – There’s NO height to factor in. This is a benchTOP, to be attached to your favorite adjustable “under bench,” which cranks (or, magically levitates) up and down to the comfortable height you need – this may come in handy for various things that need to be done – some while standing.
    – And, many more benefits to the “ability” to just build this on your own.

    Potential Benefits:

    – For myself, I have some good time on my hands that could be used to build this 30-40 hour project. That’s what I’m figuring, because while I have construction experience, I really haven’t had much WOODSHOP experience. But that’s OK, because…
    – I have access to a fully equipped wood shop, and I mean a professional one. To illustrate, people were making their own koa wood rocking chairs, big ones, at this well equipped facility. Koa is the Hawaiian hardwood here in the Islands.
    – There are MENTORS, or helpers there in the woodshop to assist, give advice, and general direction on how to do whatever needs to be done to complete a project. In fact, they are the ones who created the rocking chair project. Folks with all levels of experience were making them. Come to think of it, I’ll be moving in five years…maybe I should make my ow…wait a minute, one thing at a time, and we have PRIORITIES here… :)
    – Cost: I’m no Einstein when it comes to numbers, but it would appear to me that I could maybe build this thing for about 1/4 – 1/3 the retail price…with a LOT of love thrown in.

    Here are some pics and a link:

    http://danspitz.com/spitz-bench/

    I believe you’ve all seen this, mostly. William? Do you have any sage words of advice for me? Is this totally a no-go, or should I just GO FOR IT??? Haha, I guess I’m trying to tilt your opinion into a certain area :)

    Anyone else have experience with building something of this caliber? Anyone? Would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and anything else you might be able to give me in the way of an opinion, one way or another. Thank you, in advance :)

    Best,

    Tim :)</i></i>

    #61534
    peggy332014
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 20
    • Total Posts: 206

    It’s interesting, but I can tell it wouldn’t work for me in my physically limited self. I do like the older models with the drawers and tool organizers. I find that a magnifier lamp along with my loupe would give me the “birds eye view” that I need.

    Thanks Tim for showing this! :D I’d honestly would have to think about how it would work for me at this point. Mike, my hubby plans on building me a clock workbench

    http://www.jewelerstoystore.com/Jewelry_Bench_p/b31-4.htm

    #61535
    chris mabbott
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 119
    • Total Posts: 1525

    Not for me, too much sales spiel about how good it is and ridiculously priced. Can a person have carpel tunnel in the back 😆

    #61536
    maitai11
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 62
    • Total Posts: 428

    Thanks Peggy!

    Chris, you may have misunderstood…I’m thinking of MAKING this bench, or some sort of clone…not buying it :)

    I know, I know, the pitch is spiel-ly – but I really like the open design, channeling, varied height (with the addition of “underbench,) etc.

    I’ll let everyone know what I decide. Pricing out the raw materials now :)

    William, would you biscuit something like this? It’s 8/4, and 2″ thick, butcher block construction. Any ideas/suggestions would be much appreciated from the master cabinetmaker :)

    Best,

    Tim

    #61537
    willofiam
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 75
    • Total Posts: 1437

    Hi Tim…. @maitai11 wrote:

    I guess I’m trying to tilt your opinion into a certain area

    I have noticed that ;)
    Go for it!!!!! BUT….If you do not have any knowledge of using some of the equipment, it would behoove you to get familiar with the machinery first, this top is large and heavy being 2″ thick maple and possibly 5′ long, having the machinery and knowledge to handle those sizes would be important. A friend of mine who is not a cabinetmaker was simply trying to cut a board and cut off his fingers. You have to realize BEFORE it happens that when fingers get cut off its rather difficult to put them back on, dont know about you guys but I like my fingers. :)
    40 hours? your first project? 😆 I am laughing with you Tim,,,, plan on alot longer than that. Price out the materials and labor costs then take a look at buying a new or used butcher-block countertop, most likely 1 1/2″ thick, may be cheaper in the end and be plenty strong for your needs, you can shape it any way you like…. If your going to build it from scratch no, you dont use biscuits (you could if you wanted but not necessary) the boards are laminated together with plain old wood glue (unless your building a kitchen countertop) then you would use a water resistant glue.
    @Chris Mabbott wrote:

    it is and ridiculously priced

    That may be true Chris, I dont know what he is charging, BUT, it does look like a well made piece, I guess if you were doing a comparison on tools and consider the watchmakers bench a important tool….like anything else, its up to the buyer, his or her needs and bank account….will be interesting to see what Tim comes up with on material costs over there….Here, just for the top material cost would be approximately 500 dollars (multiply by 4 and add for finish) I would build it for around $2500… I am guessing Tims area material costs would be double that.

    Tim, you dont have to use 8/4 either, 4/4 would be what most tops are made out of. Plan on AT LEAST 20% waste, add thickness and length for machining flat and square.
    Someone else had brought up watchmakers benches, I think if your going to set the bench up in the middle of the room then sturdiness is critical, if your putting it up to a wall then you can screw it to the wall and it will be plenty sturdy for watchmaking. William

    #61538
    chris mabbott
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 119
    • Total Posts: 1525

    @maitai11 wrote:

    Chris, you may have misunderstood…I’m thinking of MAKING this bench, or some sort of clone…not buying it :)
    Tim

    I read you 5 by 5 there good buddy, read below please..

    @willofiam wrote:

    @Chris Mabbott wrote:

    it is and ridiculously priced

    That may be true Chris, I dont know what he is charging, BUT, it does look like a well made piece

    William, it’s $2300 That is just the TOP no base, no padding, and no shipping included for the 285lb piece. Oh, no tools either 😥

    @willofiam wrote:

    I guess if you were doing a comparison on tools and consider the watchmakers bench a important tool….like anything else, its up to the buyer, his or her needs and bank account….

    True, but there is also unreasonable costs. Like buying a good set of micro HSS taps and dies ( a good set, not the crap cheapie I got 😆 As opposed to the unreasonable price of the 1800 uk pound Bergeon set.. In fact, those Bergeon taps cost more than this top 🙄 but I’m not buying those either ;)

    When I was reading the sales pitch on the web site, speaking of needs, it was all about the sellers needs that he wants to pass on to the consumer. Lets face it, in todays world, my needs should be everyone’s needs, voss ist loss mit das 🙄

    @willofiam wrote:

    will be interesting to see what Tim comes up with on material costs over there….Here, just for the top material cost would be approximately 500 dollars (multiply by 4 and add for finish) I would build it for around $2500… I am guessing Tims area material costs would be double that.

    I’ll be curious too, to see what’s available. Maybe not that difficult though, whereas maple butcher block is expensive to start with, there are plenty of other alternatives, and there are some nice indigenous woods from Hawaii that are cheap ,there. I had my “work” bench made by a carpenter, they installed it, used 3′ solid pine for the top and pine for the base and that cost me just a bit more than the top material price you mentioned first. That is supporting about 300 kilos of stuff already, including the lathe.

    The main thing that I don’t agree with on the “sales hype” from the guys web site is that this top is meant to be used to repair WATCHES, i.e. you sit at it and disassemble/re-assemble tiny pieces using tiny tools, the largest being a staking set or a watchmakers lathe, all 3 pounds of it.
    This is not a heavy hammering, mount your vice on, or cut holes in it to feed your lathe foot pedal belt through, kinda work bench 😆 Imagine, taking a drill and jig saw and cutting some holes in your new $2500 + shipping bench top 😮 So with this important fact in mind, 3 inches of solid butchers block maple is a tad overkill, you will never exert that much force on this type of bench, ever. So Maple is not needed, strike 3..

    I mean, you could hammer on it, but who would with anything other than our peanut breakers 😆 This is a show piece, a table, not a “work” top per se. Even the shape/design, is meant for sitting in one spot, the irregular shape makes it impractical to utilize the whole length.
    Most “usable benches” are straight for streamlined, unobstructured work flow, I have wheels on my chair and I wheel from one end to the other using all the space, like a crab 😆

    Tim, I know you like this top, and although it might seem like I’m trying to put you off it, I’m really not, honestly :) Hell, I know all about having that want bug knawing at my brain. Just take some time to decide.

    I do feel that if you look around and find some good local wood, get it cut out to YOUR body/work style & needs, and not buddies from Anthrax’ style, Then I’m sure you’ll have something you’ll be happy with for a long time.. and you’ll still have some mullah for watches 8-)

    #61539
    stevefitzwater
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 48
    • Total Posts: 385

    but Chris, this top will double as a chopping block 😆 , just make sure it is close to the kitchen.. and chop to your hearts desire, then sit down and work on watches… LOL

    In the very near future, I will be adding on to my current office/shop desk, it is currently an L shaped desk, 30 inches deep and a 8 ft run, connected to a 11’6″ run, I plan on adding another 8 ft run to the other end of the 11’6″ run, this will be at 39″ to 40″ height, this will be my watchmakers desk.

    My total cost is expected to be around $75, pretty simple construction, a 3/4″ finished plywood top covered with VYCO (soft rubber covering used on drafting tables), at one end, for the base I will use a “printers cabinet” used for storing plates and masters (small thin drawers that I acquired several years ago at work) for storage of tools, watches etc.

    When I build it, I will try to remember to post images.

    My point being, you can build a very nice desk top to your own specs for very little, then buy cabinets for either end to form the base, you get the storage you want in the form you want, and a solid surface for a very affordable price. Also if you do not have the saws, and other special tools, if you plan out your project and then go to a Home Store (Home Depot, Lowes, etc) they will cut your wood to dimensions for about a dollar a cut! While I have to tools already, I will have them cut the plywood top for me, ripping a 8 ft piece of plywood on a table saw can be a pain by yourself and besides it is a lot less work for me! and no clean up!

    #61540
    randy
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 39
    • Total Posts: 594

    Tim,
    I too drooled over that bench for quite some time..even started looking at materials, armrests I could modify, etc.
    After some time, I realized as others here did,..that it would be costly just to buy what you needed, and then there’s the other good point that Steve brought up about only being able to use the center “island” for addressing work, due the armrests, and remaining curve to the face of the bench. I realized that I wanted ( needed ) the full face length of it to support my lathe, as well as being able to mount a vise wherever I wanted. Many of the famous watchmakers have more than one bench, so they can just move to another one as they need.
    I think you’ve seen mine. I built it from an older mahogany desk. I build some boxes to set the desk into to bring the height up. Then in the current version, I bought a used blonde colored maple dining table, and modified the top to sit on the desk. I cut it to the depth / width I wanted, build a backsplash from a piece I trimmed off, Drilled some circular holes for lamp / ultrasonic cleaner wires, ( which I filled with the plastic caps like you seen on computer desks- bought them at Home Depot ). and screwed it into the desk to from the bottom.
    I now have a good sized bench, with a 1″ solid maple top, for under $100.00.

    Look for “My Simple Bench” in the search window, and you will see a pic of the 1st one I topped with plywood and green architects matting, and then a few posts later, you’ll see the most recent shot

    Might work for you ??

    #61541
    maitai11
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 62
    • Total Posts: 428

    Guys,

    Thank you, one and all. Some very good points there. Here’s the perspective I was approaching this from.

    At present, I have a small “portable” watchmaker’s bench – if you haven’t seen it, you can see a picture of it over on the Workshop thread where everyone posts pics of what their shops look like. Here are some of my issues:

    Vantage Point #1 – My size – First of all, I stand 6′ 2″ tall and around 200 lbs. (just lost 20 😯 ) – sorry, I don’t know the centimeter/stone calc’s on that one – but I can tell you that my arms’ span turns out to be pretty wide. Elbows everywhere.

    Vantage Point #2 – Bench size – Being as small as IT is, and with all the tools now crowding me out, I find that, as I rest my forearms on the bench to inch up to the work surface, that I am beginning to get permanent 3/4″ channels on the underside of my arms – not the best of circumstances. The “memory foam” slanted armrests Mr. Spitz has optioned into his bench became very, VERY appealing to me.

    Vantage Point #3 – Rip Off – As I mentioned, I never wanted to buy one of these doggies from Spitz – only to steal the idea, which I know may not work for all body types or work economy styles – but it seemed to be suitable for me. In other words, as small an operation as I am, I actually DO spent hours on end at that very spot. Some of the other appealing things were the extra space, unique channel for catching parts (I know Chris, you’re groaning over there,) and just the overall beauty of the design. Sure, we could all pick up a used door and form something up with “L” brackets and some cinder blocks, but for me, aesthetics is part of it – not the MOST important part, but a part. In other words, if I’m going to buy or make a bench, why not buy or make one I like?

    So, that’s it really, for me in a nutshell. I need more space, something that’s going to give my arms a rest, and something I also like to look at. I can see, Chris, why yours really IS a WORK bench – using pine, for instance, is guaranteed to get dinged up, probably on the first usage. But there’s one fundamental difference. Heck, for all I know, you like pine because it holds pieces better because it’s slightly impressionable. Whatever the case, it works for you. And, because I’m shooting high on this one, I put several of these ideas out for a vote – boy, we sure got a lot of great ideas out there!!! But I gotta agree Chris, the pitch it pretty pitchy.

    So, William, the area I have to work in is a fully staffed, fully equipped woodshop where the people who work there are in that job to assist whomever needs the help. I pay a basic $3/hr, and another $15 per 15 min of direct assistance. All questions are free. It’s only when they put their hands on the project and actually assist a person (which I know I WILL need, probably several times.) Thanks for all the great info and tips you gave regarding the construction, etc. I had already decided that 3″ was way, way too thick, and more for Mr. Spitz ego than anything else.

    And Randy, I drooled over it, too, but more for the DESIGN elements that I wanted to pick out of it. I want this thing to be specifically tweaked to my body frame size and comfort. I don’t think it could be any different for anyone else. We all need something that works for us. Within the first five minutes of using my new baby bench, I could tell watchmaking would be OK for me because the neck and back pain vanished. Sometimes, I’ll forget the time and just tick, tick, tick away at my job there on the bench.

    So, fella’s, yes, I will keep you up to date. I need to attend classes on how to do things safely first, before I ever get started. I think a 1 1/2″ – 2″ bench will be plenty.

    Kind regards,

    Tim :)

    #61542
    chris mabbott
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 119
    • Total Posts: 1525

    @maitai11 wrote:

    Vantage Point #1 – My size – First of all, I stand 6′ 2″ tall and around 200 lbs. (just lost 20 😯 ) – sorry, I don’t know the centimeter/stone calc’s on that one – but I can tell you that my arms’ span turns out to be pretty wide. Elbows everywhere.
    Tim :)

    HELL BOY, y’all just toooo darn big to be a tinkerin and havin a mind to be a fixin these liddle ole thangs! Most on us gud ole boys in this here bitnis, well, shucks, weez only tiny, knee high to a grasshopper kinda fellas 😆

    #61543
    stevefitzwater
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 48
    • Total Posts: 385

    @Chris Mabbott wrote:

    @maitai11 wrote:

    Vantage Point #1 – My size – First of all, I stand 6′ 2″ tall and around 200 lbs. (just lost 20 😯 ) – sorry, I don’t know the centimeter/stone calc’s on that one – but I can tell you that my arms’ span turns out to be pretty wide. Elbows everywhere.
    Tim :)

    HELL BOY, y’all just toooo darn big to be a tinkerin and havin a mind to be a fixin these liddle ole thangs! Most on us gud ole boys in this here bitnis, well, shucks, weez only tiny, knee high to a grasshopper kinda fellas 😆

    WOW.. ok I am 6’4″, and too much is the answer for the weight (side effect from the tumor), :o, back when dirt was still young I played college football (American Football), middle linebacker, ran a 4.48 in the 40 yard dash. You want comedy.. watch me work with these little screw drivers.. LOL looks like a toothpick in my hands 😆 .

    So your saying your a Lilypuecian? Ya know the Lolly Pop Guild?

    #61544
    chris mabbott
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 119
    • Total Posts: 1525

    Well HELL BOY, y’all too darn big too, yous extra large, what’n tarnation they feedin you boys out yonder over the pond. CORN 😆
    Y’all be a needin ta git ya’sens out in the field an be a helpin Cletus with that thar bailin :D

    #61545
    stevefitzwater
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 48
    • Total Posts: 385

    @Chris Mabbott wrote:

    Well HELL BOY, y’all too darn big too, yous extra large, what’n tarnation they feedin you boys out yonder over the pond. CORN 😆
    Y’all be a needin ta git ya’sens out in the field an be a helpin Cletus with that thar bailin :D

    Hmm that’s not how the Lolly Pop Guid talks in the Wizard of Oz??? Must be one of them hillbilly ones… ;)

    Corn? you mean corn fed beef? Bailin, yeah been there, done that… 🙄

    #61546
    maitai11
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 62
    • Total Posts: 428

    You guys are killin’ me hahahaha

    #61547
    sbonder
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 1
    • Total Posts: 6

    Hey, a question in my wheelhouse!! Who would have thought . . .
    There are several ways to tackle this project. First, go to Ikea or a used furniture store and buy the maple top. You can then use a big jig saw, or a bandsaw with support tables (you mentioned fully staffed workshop) to cut the rough shape close to what you want. A combo of sanders are likely the easiest for the non-woodworker to use to get the shape to finl dimensions. You would then use a router for the end treatments and with an edge guide for the well around the inside edge. You could use brackets to hold the padded portions or a plung router to make a mortise in the bench to fit a tenon in the padded portion. I favor the bracket for ease and stability.

    This would actually be an easy project for a woodworker. I would put it in the novice category. Fingers are in danger only a bit since jigsaws, bandsaws and sanders are all pretty safe. The router needs some attention and guidance before you hog wood, but do-able.

    If you want to get fancy, you can build this from scratch, but the tabletop requires a lot more work than you might think. You would need to joint and plane the pieces to be laminated, glue them up (always a pain), then cut the table to dimensions. You then have what you could have gotten at a cheap furniture store or possibly IKEA. Just be careful not to buy a hollow core product. Even MDF would be okay (though even heavier than solid wood).

    One thing to consider is that this model seems to be based on a traditional woodworker’s bench. Google that and you will see how to build the base and the methods for ensuriing the top surface is flat. But, these benches are meant for heavy work, pounding of mallets, benchdogs holding pieces while handplaning, cutting dovetails, etc. I have yet to crack a watch while I wind up the latest project, but there is nothing in a watch or clock that could possibly need that heft. If you are building grandfather clock cases you might, but that is about it. I am all for overkill unless it leads to regrets and a bench of that size and weight is difficul to manuever. I have a 6′ 300 lb woodworkers bench sets on height adjustable legs and casters and it is still a beast.

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