Mini bench

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Wend

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I've had ambitions to make a mini workbench for some time now, to allow me to have work higher up, have a bench with dog holes, and have a vice at 90 degrees to the vice on my bench. I got a vice some time ago, and it and some maple and poplar have been lying around getting in the way for months, so this weekend I finally got around to making a start on it.

The maple started off around 4cm thick, 22cm wide, and 108cm long. 50cm is about the right length for me, so I started off by cutting it in half. However, it also had a significant amount of cupping, twist, and machine marks on it.
DSC_8437.jpg


Even if I could flatten it, 22cm wide would be pushing it. The vice is 18cm wide, and it would need legs either side of that. 2cm legs might be OK, but wider sounds better. So the best plan seemed to be to cut off the most cupped section of each half, and glue them together, for a total width of around 26cm (so 4cm wide legs). However, the drill press can only handle up to about 11cm deep, so if I want to use it to drill the central dog holes then I'll need to make the two pieces different widths, so the center is entirely on one side. So the plan is a 16cm wide piece, and a 10cm wide piece.

I wasn't sure how to make the legs at first, but I played around with it a bit in openscad, and came up with kind of C-shaped pieces (from the poplar), 4cm by 8cm, about 18cm tall, and with a 4x4cm cutout to allow clamping from both the front/back and the side. Something like this:
mini_bench_2.png


I'm not quite sure what dog hole pattern to use, but for now I've gone with 10cm spacing and offsetting the inside and outside holes. This leaves one hole over the vice, so it won't be able to go all the way through; not sure whether I'd regret that or not.
mini_bench_1.png


In any case, I set to work flattening/untwisting/uncupping the first piece. Phew! I think if I use maple again, I will order it PAR in the thickness that I need! But it's pretty much there now. There's still a few rough shallow spots, but I think I will leave that until the final planing once the two pieces are glued together.
DSC_8439.jpg

Unfortunately, I didn't notice a little damage on one edge until after I'd made the cut. I'm not yet sure whether to cut/plane it down to closer to 15cm wide (at which point the dog holes will only be 1cm from the edge) or to just make that the bottom face and live with it.
DSC_8441.jpg


Anyway, I think I'll give my arms a rest before tackling the other piece and the edge jointing!


Take care,
Wend
 

Jameshow

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Looks good!

What are the notches in the legs for?

Cheers James
 
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Wend

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Yep. A lot of mini benches I've seen online have legs something like this, which allow you to clamp in the same area:
legs.png

but I couldn't see how to make that work well with my vice and dimensions.

I'm not sure if I need to worry about my legs racking, but I figure that I can always screw a bit of wood between them if that turns out to be a problem.
 

Cabinetman

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I see those leg notches as being a weak point and your last sentence is to screw a piece of wood between the legs, that would be my preferred option as you can then cramp that down much more easily. If your pillar drill will only stretch that far why not drill the holes before you glue the top together? If you are only using those holes for holdfasts, they don’t need to be 100% square to the surface and can be added later when you know where you want them, I think if they are just for holdfasts you don’t need that many. Ian
 

Jameshow

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Why not run a length of 2x2 back to front? Connecting the legs together to prevent racking and something to camp down onto.

Cheers James
 

Wend

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I see those leg notches as being a weak point
Hmm. I wonder if drilling a hole up from the bottom of the leg, and putting a dowel into it, would make them stronger. Although in that case the dowel would have a different grain direction to the leg (as the leg wants to have the same grain direction as the top), so maybe that wouldn't be wise.

If your pillar drill will only stretch that far why not drill the holes before you glue the top together?
That's what I'll do. I'd just have had 2 equal sized pieces (which might look nicer, and would make de-cupping a little easier) but for the drill reach issue.

This does mean that the final planing/sanding will be after the holes are drilled, but hopefully if I round them over first I won't have any problems with tearout etc.

If you are only using those holes for holdfasts, they don’t need to be 100% square to the surface and can be added later when you know where you want them, I think if they are just for holdfasts you don’t need that many. Ian

I only expect to use them for bench dogs. Especially very shallow wooden dogs, to make it easier to plane thin material.

Why not run a length of 2x2 back to front? Connecting the legs together to prevent racking and something to camp down onto.

You mean something like this? That wouldn't be easy to clamp onto the yellow table.

mini_bench_3.png


Thanks everyone for all the ideas!
 

Dr Al

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Have you got any guide rail clamps or similar? Something like these.

If so, another option would be to drill some holes near the bottom of each foot and slide the (narrow) end of the guide rail clamp into the hole. Something like this:

1615283696030.png


You could obviously also add stretchers to prevent racking if you wanted to.

I'm guessing that @Jameshow was imagining stretchers that were flush with the bottom of the legs and hence could be more easily clamped:

1615283601989.png
 

Wend

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Have you got any guide rail clamps or similar? Something like these.

If so, another option would be to drill some holes near the bottom of each foot and slide the (narrow) end of the guide rail clamp into the hole.

Hmm, I don't have any, but I could get some. That's definitely worth considering, thanks!

I'm guessing that @Jameshow was imagining stretchers that were flush with the bottom of the legs and hence could be more easily clamped:

View attachment 105507
Ah, I see. I suspect that clamps on stretchers at the ends would interfere with the vice, but I'll see if I can mock it up and experiment once the bench top is done.


Thanks
Wend
 

Wend

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I hoped that starting a public project thread would encourage me to make faster progress, but sadly it doesn't seem to have turned out that way. Still, I'm getting there now, as evidenced by the shavings bin. How does so little wood end up taking up so much space?!
DSC_8449.jpg

The two halves now planed, centre holes drilled, and glued up:
DSC_8469.jpg

The edges weren't quite straight, but I thought the clamps had pulled it together; turns out I was wrong!
DSC_8503.jpg

Still, this is only at the back, and I'll probably trim most of it off anyway. Just don't want to go too crazy so there's enough support when using the last dog hole.

Mocking it up with some pine blocks to check the height etc, and it's starting to feel like I'm almost there!
DSC_8517.jpg

Still not quite sure what to do with the legs. I experimented with notches in my temporary pine supports, and it's fine for clamping, but I do worry about strength - especially given the grain direction in the real thing. Perhaps I should drill a hole and insert a dowel to add strength, like this?:
legs2.jpg

But then, if I do that, then won't I have problems with wood movement, as the dowel and leg has perpendicular grain direction?

Or perhaps putting a long screw in from the bottom instead would be better; but it still seems like that would have problems with wood movement in the leg.

Maybe I should just try with plain legs, and if they break then I can cut them off and rethink.


- Wend
 

Wend

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Progress trundles slowly along. Legs shaped and glued, along with a block to lower the vise jaws below the top. The legs are also a little wider than I'd planned; it seemed silly trim them down for no benefit, but the front right one needed a notch cut out for the vice to fit into, to allow the dog to line up with the dog holes.
DSC_5176.jpg

And then this weekend, I bit the bullet, held my breath and attached the vise! Seems like a success: I didn't manage to drill all the way through to the bench top, and no cracking is evident; phew!
DSC_5180.jpg

Nice to finally have the vise out from under my feet.

Still got the vise jaws to go, but I don't have any suitable off-cuts. I'll be putting together a wood order soon, so I'll include a suitable bit of ash or something for that. After that, a quick run round with the 1.5mm roundover bit, and a splash of danish oil ought to see this complete!

I hadn't anticipated quite how front-heavy it would be though. It's almost tempting to put a smaller vice on the other end to balance it out!


Thanks
Wend
 

dannyr

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not the same, but strong family resemblance to my somewhat larger sit-on bench, which all started when I saw a cut-off beam end in the skip for a house extension - a fine bit of 1920s semi, - 5in thick slow growth, dense, redwood of some kind which I simply squared off to 36in x 12in half-lap jointed thick legs from similar and lap jointed diagonal cross bracing, then added an old Parky vice (also 1920s?) and an ancient bench stop and some dog holes. It's dark because heavily treated with old engine oil as preservative (soaks in well - doesn't actually stain trousers or the work, but I wouldn't sit there with whites) .

sitonbench.JPG


photo taken after ferocious 2 hour thunderstorm last night - bench tends to live outside in summer - have made a tarp cover but forgot it yesterday eve - lives under a log shelter in winter

the vice works great but is v heavy and overhangs so have to take care not to sit on that far end or could flip over - no answer to that one - if I add more weight to the other end I'd never move it
 
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Wend

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Got some ash, and cut/planed a piece to wrap around the rear vice jaw:
DSC_8532.jpg

Then attached front and rear jaw liners. It wasn't until I was here, planing the tops flush with the bench top, that I realised that a 2cm thick rear liner was probably overkill, given that although it was wider than the vice, it would still be supported along its entire length, but never mind.
DSC_8541.jpg

Finally everything the right shape!
DSC_8548.jpg

And finished with some danish oil.
DSC_8553.jpg

One final task remaining: Hacksaw off 8-9mm of the dog; this is just asking for trouble!
DSC_8564.jpg

Other than that, glad to have it finished :)

Take care,
Wend
 
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