Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Change of Plans

English Bench
Before Woodworking in America I was working on a new French style bench for my shop.  Now, after seeing at least 10 different styles of workbench in use and on display in the sessions and in the marketplace I've scrapped my French aspirations for something a little more English. Enter the bench that Nicholson describes in his book, The Mechanic's Companion. I saw a couple of them at the conference and was impressed not only with the stoutness of the bench but also the versatility, the ease of construction, and the low cost.

I had been looking for a top solution for my French bench for a while but the cost or labor or both were giving me an issue. I had begun a base for the French bench but had no idea what I was going to do for the top. I had seen pictures and read of the English bench but had never seen one in person until WIA. What I saw really changed my perspective.

If you're supposed to source your workbench from what is cheap and readily available this suits that idea to a tee. What's cheaper in wood and more available than construction lumber.  Also if you're just getting into woodworking it's easy to make one of these, just a few tools and some glue and screws and you have a stout workbench that can use a variety of work holding options.

Hold fasts are indispensable
For work holding, I'll be keeping the hold fasts of course, as they are super versatile. None of the vises from the previous bench will be installed on the new one. Instead I'm going to put a leg vise on the left, along with a planing stop. On the right end I'm going to put a quick action end vise. It's not really necessary for hand work but sometimes with machines it's nice to be able to hold stuff between dogs. A split top will allow for a bench length stop that can be raised for traversing boards.

Now for the real news, I'm going to make this a 2 sided bench so when looking from the other side there will be a planing stop and crochet on the left side as well. This will give the option of a variety of work holding options as well as the option to work with someone else as a partner bench.

"Moxon" vise reclaimed from old bench tail vise
Bench top length will be 8 ft. I decided that I'm going to go as long as I can fit in the space. The twin screw tail vise from my old bench is going to be re purposed into a Moxon style vise to raise some operations up above the bench top. A lot of the wood from my current bench will be scavenged into the new bench for various parts. I guess I'll turn the oak I started working for the other bench into something else.

I'm really going to try to remember to document this build with photos so stay tuned for more.

No comments:

Post a Comment