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Bench in a weekend

I decided to take a short break from the chair build - it had been quite intense for a while and it was time to chill out for a couple of weeks. 

The background to this bench is that each year I get invited to demonstrate something at the Perth LN Tool Event - joint making, dovetailing, tool building, whatever. This is a special honour made more so as it is with wonderful people. But each year it is held I wind up with a bench that better suits a power tool user - one small face vice that is often inaccessible, and a large flat bench without dogs. I can use clamps only, and this is not really convenient when planing mouldings, rebates, grooves, sliding dovetails, and so on. I have a Moxon vise for dovetailing, but what I really need is a bench for handtools. And so I decided to build a small bench that I could fit in the car to take along for the Show this year (I have a two-seater so it has to be small). 

I did look at the Milkman's bench design posted by Christopher Schwarz on his blog, but discarded this as I wanted to clamp a board at the edge of the bench, and also have more planing surface, both of which are not strongly featured on his bench.

This is what I came up with with scraps on hand: 28" long, 15" wide, and 2 1/2" thick. Materials were Pine sandwiching a LVL core (ala very thick plywood), and Jarrah for the central dog holes, wagon vise and screw.

I agree with Chris, who recently blogged on cutting full blind dovetails and wrote that the through dovetail is the most difficult of all to get right. This is particularly when the tail is 1 5/8" long as here.

What I love about these brass Veritas dogs is that they are spring-loaded. They compress into the dog hole, and then pop up at a touch of the finger ..

The dogs can be re-sited for traversing ...

... and they may also be used with the Veritas Surface Clamp, which is the only hold down with a leg short enough for this bench ..

The end of the bench has an adjustable planing stop.

The black dots (above) are where I shall drill holes to clamp the bench down on the "table" top.

The screw for the wagon vise was intended to be made with a kit, but it did not work (blunt blade which did not work after I sharpened it), so I turned the threads on a power router and finished with a file ..

Here are the parts ..

.. and together ...

I have not weighed this little bench top. It feels pretty solid and quite heavy. There is enough clamping length using the wagon vise together with the planning stop to hold down a 24" board length. With the side dog holes, there is sufficient support to use a jack plane diagonally to flatten a panel. Importantly, it is possible to hold boards close to the edge to rebate or add a bead.

Regards from Perth


March 2014