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Adjustable dead-man

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Steve Maskery

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I've often wished that I had incorporated a sliding deadman into the design of my bench. They are an excellent way of supporting panels for edge work, such as shooting a door edge. But I didn't. I've made do with a motley collection of blocks, stacked toolboxes and pieces of scrap for far too long. It's time for something better.

Although this does not slide, I can position it pretty much anywhere I want it along my bench, as I have dog holes every 150mm. The foot support can be in any one of an array of 25mm holes, on roughly 50mm centres, drilled into a front board which is the same height as my bench. It is attached to the bench by a top piece, which houses a peg which fits into any one of my dog-holes along the front.

My vice sits proud of the front edge of my bench. That was deliberate. At the time, I had a few jigs that slid over the vice jaws, in particular a pretty decent router mortising jig. But I have better ways at my disposal nowadays, and I would not install a vice like that again. However, that is what I have, so I have to engineer things so that the front board is flush with the face of the rear jaw.

I started with the front board, 210mm wide and as high as the bench, in my case 900mm. I had a piece of MDF of just the right length so I used that. I don't buy MDF these days, I prefer MRMDF. It's a far superior material for very little extra money, but as I had this to hand it seemed like a good use for it.

I laid out the holes in a diagonal array, four in a line, 50mm vertical separation and drilled them out at 25mm.

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Then I eased all the edges with a small roundover bit.

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In order to get that front board flush with the rear jaw, I made a spacer to sit between it and the front edge of the bench and glued the two together.

There are two turning jobs to be done on the lathe, a peg to fit the dog-holes, and one to fit the front board. I'm no turner, but even I can manage that. They are a snug fit in the top and the foot, but slightly tapered so that they are easy to install in the bench and front board.

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The top is 210 x 100mm and is drilled to take the peg in line with the dog-holes, leaving a mm or so overhang over the front board. After gluing in the peg and and screwing it to the spacer, I could trim it all nice and flush.

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Steve Maskery

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The foot is a block of oak 60 x 50 x 30mm with a 25mm blind hole into which the peg is glued and the job is complete.

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In use, one end of the workpiece is held in the vice, whilst the back end rests on the foot, positioned at the appropriate height.

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It works superbly well and I have no idea why I did not make this years ago.

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Bodgers

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Good idea.

Just waiting for your tutorial on edge jointing MDF now ;)

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xy mosian

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That is a smashing adjustable dead-man Steve, and a great write up.
On deadmen? In general I wonder if there is a place for a fixed , matching, deadman about a hands width to the long side of the vice. My thinking is that where a number of boards of the same width, requiring similar edge work, are concerned then some time would be gained in the loading of the panel to the vice. As an extra benefit perhaps less grip from the fingers would be needed as well. A rear face to the vice proud of the bench apron has, perhaps, little ability to trap fingers whereas a flush face could well do that.
I have not tried this out but still I wonder. Comments anyone?
Again well done Steve.

xy
 
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