Thursday, 13 March 2014
In between making tools (I thought it would quieten down after Christmas!) I have finally finished the work bench. I've honed this design over the years and for my way of working it's just right.
The frame is flush with the top as well as flush with the front edge, this makes clamping long boards easy. The distance between the top and bottom rail is just right for working sitting down with your feet on the bottom rail and your knees tucked under the bench, a bit like sitting at a desk. It's amazing how much work I do sitting down, with everything comfortable and relaxed you can concentrate fully on the work. There is a removable shelf, I'm surprised how many expensive commercial benches don't include one.
The frame is made of 4" square pine and has both top and bottom rails all the way round. It's as solid as a rock with absolutely no movement and is surprisingly heavy. The paint job is General Milk Paint in buttermilk which I think goes well with the beech and covers up the inevitable knots, having first primed them with shellac to prevent bleed through.
The bench is knock down, which is just as well as this one now resides in a loft in Cornwall!
The stop system for hand planing is quick and versatile and I would strongly recommend getting a hold fast. I've had benches with tail vices in the past but found them of little use. The top is 65 mm thick and has no aprons or end caps, another advantage with not having a tail vice!
The heart of the bench is the leg vice and this one has a 2 1/2" diameter screw which I make myself. A wooden screw has a nice range so the peg needs to be adjusted less than you may think. It also has a very nice feel to it and grips like a tiger!
I position my screw lower than others recommend, I find an 8" clearance is not enough and position the centre of my screw at 12" giving a clearance of 10 3/4", much more useful.
The peg board will take quite a bit of pressure as it's used, so I always do a through tenon with a flared mortice and wedges, it also looks nice! The customer has reported he is very pleased with his new bench (it obviously went through the loft hatch) and I'm happy to have a bit more space in the shop.