penultimate bench


I had a very serviceable general-puropose bench built from a solid core door on 4x4 legs and 2x8 skirt and stretchers. It ain't going anywhere! But I wanted a bench better suited to my neandering tendencies. I knew that I was not ready to build the beautiful ultimate benches like some of you guys build. So I started with Bob Key's "good first bench" and modified it to include a trestle base, shoulder vise, and rudimentary tail vise.
For the heck of it, I decided to build it all out of wood. Vices are wood, with knobs to tighten rather than regular vise handles. I still have my iron vise on the utility bench when I need to crush something, and I can apply plenty of pressure to hold a piece while cutting dovetails without being tempted to "crank down" and possibly break my shoulder vise. If I find out that the sliding dovetail on the spacer along with the areas I could glue without cross-grain problems are not enough, I give up on my all-wood idea and use the hole that I predrilled to within 1/2" of the front surface to insert the usual threaded rod to hold the shoulder.
Here are some pictures of a 3D model of the bench I drew for a design exercise. http://www.alibre.com/xpress/forum/viewtopic.php?t (3 Most of the discussion there is about modeling issues rather than the woodworkign issues. At the bottom of the thread, I have shown a picture of the actual bench and a couple of details.
It was a fun project, and I'm happy with the result. The base is built of "premium white wood" studs, dressed and laminated three across. Mortises were just cuts of the center board before gluing. The feet and tops were joined to the legs with wedged tenons (my first experience with them--man is that ever a solid joint!). The break-down joint on the stretchers gave me an initial scare. I assembled the base with the wedges pushed in by hand, then leveled it to make sure the points of support for the top were coplanar. After putting the top (~120lb) on, I was dismayed to find the bench very wobbly. However, a strap clamp pulling the legs tight onto the stretchers followed by solid mallet blows on the wedges gave me a very firm foundation. While the base might not be as easy to break down as if it were bolted, I think I can do it, possibly sacrificing the wedges.
I have a bunch of in-process photos, including some embarrassing "whoops" moments, that I tell myself I will put up on a web page some day, but thought I'd post a pointer to these images for anyone interested.
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Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.

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I do this every chance I get. Build a model, then build the model. A workbench like that makes a great project..... wish I had more time. Nice job. Does Xcad allow views in perspective? Flat views like that bend my brain. *S*
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Yes, but I'm pretty sure I did do a perspective view. I wonder if it switches it back to orthogonal when you export to jpg. I'll check out the program view versus the jpg and let you know.
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So, if this is your next-to-last bench (look up "penultimate"), what is your last one going to be?
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LRod

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Of course, I guess you could argue that this one becomes my penultimate only when I get around to that one. Maybe I should have labeled it my "ultimate-for-now" bench "or "ultimate-so-far" bench.
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Probably fewer than two in ten know the correct usage. My apologies to you as being one of the two.
It could have gone either way...
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On 10/1/2005 12:04 AM LRod mumbled something about the following:

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Odinn
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On 10/1/2005 2:07 AM alexy mumbled something about the following:

Damn, I need to learn to subtract, don't I.
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"superultimate", which of course doesn't make any more sense than saying something is "more unique" than something else.
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If you're gonna have a tool tray you might add a sliding "door" on one end of the bottom. Ramps make cleaning out sawdust, chips and curlies easier but a whole to push/sweep them in is even easier.
What's going to guide the tail vise? By enclosing it you loose one of its functions - to hold a drawer for planing dovetail pins and tails down flush and other front holding functions. Having square dogholes close to the front edge of the bench comes in handy sometimes.
Using splines to align the core of the top to the apron is a good idea. But I have a question about how the left end of the front apron is to be connected to the left end apron. Here's one solution that uses mortise and tenons for alignment and some lateral stability AND a barrel nut and bolt wih a little tip for positioning the barrel nut in the hole while you try and thread the bolt into it (bottom of the page)
http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/CBbench22.html
I'm hoping that you have a piece of all thread that goes through the front arm of the shoulder vise, through the spacer between the arm and the bench apron Without it the force exterted against the front arm WILL not be good on the half blind dovetail on the apron end of the shoulder vise arm.
One of the features of a shoulder vise is that the jaw can swivel on the end of the screw. Comes in handy when holding something that doesn't have parallel faces. How'd you get your wooden screw version to do that?
Spme stick on UMHW strips on the "finger" of the shoulder vise jaw will help prevent it binding or sticking.
What's the thing on the front left end of the left sled leg? If it's a leveler, why only one?
How's the top attached/connected to the base unit? Did you go with Frank Klausz's bullet shaped big pegs in the top of the base and a corresponding hole in the underside of the top?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Did I mention - nice work!
charlie b
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Charlie: Excellent points/questions. Thanks. I'll address them below/

keep that in mind, and look back at how the ramps have functioned for that. So far, so good--just move the shop trash can under the end of the bench, and push junk up the ramp. One think I like about the ramp is that if you smother a hex key, nut, bolt, etc. with shavings, it will tend to fall out of the shavings and back into the tray rather than go through the trap door with the shavings. But that is pure conjecture, not experience.

in the top. If you look at the exploded diagram, you can see that the bottom half of the body is narrower than the top. It is the ledge between these that rests on the pieces of wood in the slot. But right now, it is more accurate to describe this as an adjustable rear dog holder than a vise. One of my "well, duh, what did you expect?" moments was noticing what happens if a vise screw pushes left, 2" below the top, while a dog meets resistance at or slightly above the top of the bench! I'm thinking I will put a piece on the bottom of the vise body extending beyond it to ride against the underside of the bench and prevent the vise body from rotating.
BTW, since the right endcap is glued at the front and back dovetails, but floats against the rest of the body, I found an interesting feature--a very firm blow with the heel of the hand on the front or back of the bench at the endcap tightens or loosens the lateral support of the vise carriage.

make in my ultimate bench.

them closer?

the real think, I used doubled #20 biscuits (floating) spaced as close together as I could. A compromise, but should keep it aligned. About the only way I could see this weaker approach being a problem is if a heavy soon-to-be-former friend were to jump up on the back corner to sit down. Absent that, I think the biscuits should be plenty strong to maintain alignment.

Our's look very similar--not that there is a lot of variance in the way shoulder vises are constructed. One clarification--my front board is not an apron, per se; the front 5 boards are all the same dimensions. My "spacer block" for lack of a better term is attached to the front board and the shoulder with tapered sliding dovetail, glued for the 2" nearest the left end cap, and glued to the left end cap. So that is part of the attachment of the front board to the left endcap. I also glued the doubled biscuits there (only), and if I remember, used two pairs of biscuits, spaced equal distances from the top and bottom.
I got a "been there, done that" chuckle from reading your account of deciding to double your shoulder and end, and the implications of doing so. In my case, I had already decided to double the shoulder and had cut it to length, and cut the dovetail joint with the single endcap. Then when I came in posession of another piece of properly dimensioned and dressed lumber (remember the "shovetails you and I corresponded privately about?), I decided that doubling the endcaps made hef-blind dovetails easy in the back (cut through dovetail sockets on the inside board before laminating). But since the tail socket had been cut on the shoulder, I couldn't do a through dovetail. So if you look closely at the model you will see that I have a weird half-blind dovetail, where the "wrong half" is blind. But that's okay--this big dovetail was my first, and while structurally tight, was certainly no thing of beauty!

I'm hoping that the tapered sliding dovetail and areas that are glued will prevent any problems in that regard. So far, cranking down as hard as I generally want to gives me a visible opening between the shoulder and spacer (maybe 1/64-1/32?). But my making it of wood alone was a fun challenge that does not rise to the level of obsession. All pieces were drilled with a 5/8" hole before assembly, and that hole in the shoulder comes to within 1/2 to 3/4" of the front surface. On the bottom of the shoulder I have a line scribed in line with the center of that hole, and a note to myself that says "through hole for threaded rod 2 7/16" above this line". So if I do start getting too much play, I'll just get a forstner bit the size of the washer I want to use, and drill at the appropriate point to complete my through hole for a through-the bench rod a la Klausz. The hole on the back side of the main body is already open to the tool tray.

At this point, both of my vises are "one-way" in the sense that the screw closes but doesn't open the jaw. To open, I unscrew, the manually move the jaw. I've thought a bit about how to attache the jaws to the screws, but thought I'd go ahead and use it this way for a while to see if I cared. Since the screw is not supporting the jaw face, I suspect that the piece fitting between the spacer and the top of the base is a little tighter than it would otherwise need to be. But I still get enough swivel to hold things a little unparallel vertically, and with significant angel horizontally. I guess I could bevel the top and bottom of the tang if I found more swivel in that dimension desirable. BTW, I have found that swiveling to be a trade-off. My shoulder vise (and I suspect others) is not very good at holding very narrow stock--if it is not wide enough to extend to a point in line with the screw, the face starts rotating around the bottom of the stock being held. Scrap the same thickness as the piece being held solves this, but is not always readily available or convenient.

Because I don't care about level--only coplanar or equal support (not rocking) Feet are 3/4" stock glued to the bottom of the sled, rather than having the middle of the sled foot carved away. The left front is about 1/2" thick. The visible part of the foot is a shell in which the main 1/2" thick foot can move up or down as determined by the screw. Thus this corner can be 1/4" shorter to 1/4" longer than the other three corners, depending on the vagaries of my shop floor. I don't expect to be moving it often. This screw is VERY tight in its hole--thus the 1/2" hole for a convincer rod to turn it.

the base is the same size as the recess where the back slab is thinner than the front 5 boards and the back board. This prevents front to back movement. Intent is to glue stop blocks on the underside of the bench at either side of the base top to prevent side to side movement, which I expect with heavy planing, but have not yet experienced.

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[...]

Won't work. If you want to separate small metal objects from shavings throw the whole mess into a bucket of water, stir well and gather the shavings off the top. The metal parts are freshly washed at the bottom of the bucket. (I did this recently when I dropped an open pack of little brass nails into the heap of shavings on the floor, separating them by wind (letting the stuff fall down on a windy day in the hope that the nails fall ratehr straight into a bucket, while the shavings get blown away worked very badly, many shavings clumped together and got into the bucket, and and slakening of the wind meant also many shaving with the nails, so one would have to use impractically many passes.) didn's work)
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Dr. Juergen Hannappel http://lisa2.physik.uni-bonn.de/~hannappe
mailto: snipped-for-privacy@physik.uni-bonn.de Phone: +49 228 73 2447 FAX ... 7869
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On Sat, 01 Oct 2005 18:50:00 +0200, Juergen Hannappel

Thanks for the water bucket idea, I'll try to remember it next time I dump a bunch of small metal objects in a pile of sawdust and shavings.
However, the wind idea could work if you use a shopvac, with the hose connected to the "blow" hole rather than the vacuum of course. I used mine successfully that way to separate wild blueberries my wife had picked from the stems and leaves. Nevertheless, the water bucket is probably faster and easier.
Luigi Replace "nonet" with "yukonomics" for real email address www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/humour.html www.yukonomics.ca/wooddorking/antifaq.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Woodworking
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