Sat 6 Mar 2010
Please note that there is an earlier post with more details about construction, which can be found here. Thanks!
It’s finished. Last night I put the final touches on the workbench. After a few coats of finish on the vise it was ready to assemble and put to work. I immediately made some bench dogs. It was a true revelation to have a real vise and a relatively stable surface. It’s not a massive, stationary bench, but it’s so much more than I had. It was made with hand tools, with the exception of the use of a drill for the many, many holes.
Here it is with the vise handle removed and ready to break down. The gray discs on top are what I call “bench slippers.” They are short bench dogs with nylon furniture glides attached. When the legs are removed, and the surface is flipped over, the slippers are inserted and the bench can be slid around on wood floors without damaging them. More on that later.
My design is literally full of holes. I made a large array of dog holes in the surface. It may seem like overkill, but I expect to use random things like the Veritas “surface vise,” as well as using dogs to box in various rectangles on the surface. With only 1 vice to handle all tasks, flexibility is key.
The vise works quite well. It feels very stable and predictable. My only complaint is that it screeches a bit, even after extensive waxing. Without a drill press, the angles on the screw and the 2 guide rods are not perfect, so there are various slightly opposing forces involved. It works great though, being both smooth and steady. The external garter works like a charm. The sapele face/chop is working great and looks amazing. There are more details on its construction here and here.
If I did not have soft wood floors (bamboo) I would have bought a metal vise and been done with it. Sometimes things work out for the better, because I really like this vise (so far). If you have the means to make the bench but not the vise, buying a metal one is definitely an option. The vise is by far the most complicated part of this project.
In the end, I had purchased about $40 worth of wood for the bench itself ($30 for the poplar top, $10 for the 2x). The vise is scrap, other than the face. If you have scrap around you could use that and make adjustments to the design. I bought knobs and long carriage bolts for temporarily joining the leg assemblies to the top, but don’t think I’ll need them. I used about $4 worth of the huge sapele board that I bought for this and other projects. Add $20 for the hickory dowel and we come in at around $64 for materials.
Here’s a link to a SketchUp file of the final build. There is no joinery in the Sketchup. Dog holes are represented by black cylinders so they can be rearranged. Please keep in mind that I am left-handed. If you are not, you might want to consider the orientation of the vise. If you build it, please let me know, as I’d love to see it out in the wild. Please note that it does flex in the short direction due to the lack of stretchers there. I may add some supports that can be temporarily bolted in, but I want to use it a bit first. It’s quite solid in the long direction due to the existing stretchers.
Now I can actually build some stuff… Next comes the tool cabinet!