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My old, cheap, easy bench

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AndyT

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A few weeks ago, in a discussion about German planes, Charles Stanford saw this picture of a plane in use on my bench and said he liked the bench and wanted to see more pictures of it.



At the time, the workshop was too full to take pictures in, but after a big tidy up, here are some more pictures as requested. My workshop is in the basement, which has a funny shaped end wall (underneath a bay window) with a big step in the floor.



The space in the bay, behind the bench, is filled with the frame of an old settee. This was intended to be a re-upholstery project, but instead it has been a very useful place to store oddments of wood. To the right is an old kitchen unit with a lathe on top. To the left are shelves to hold tools.

The bench itself is very simple - that is the point of posting it on here. I built it from scrap when we first moved in and have upgraded it a little bit over the last 25 years.

The top was originally chipboard (as seen in many of my older posts) but is now built up from lengths of 3x2 from the builder's merchant, glued together as ably demonstrated by Paul Sellers. The underneath frame is nothing much - at one end it's a bit of chipboard, at the other a bit of blockboard and in the middle are some frames halved together from softwood.







The bench is rock solid simply because these supports are themselves resting on a solid floor - to which they are screwed - and to the higher level where the floor goes up the step. A shelf is screwed onto battens screwed onto the frames. The method of construction was simply to put the ends in, put the top on and add infilling bits to fit the hole.

I've also added a few drawers, from old furniture, hung on ordinary metal runners.

Behind the thick part of the top is a tool well, made from some high grade 18mm ply, rebated into the front so that it's flush across the bottom. At the back of the ply are two strips of softwood with a gap between so that there is an accessible rack for tools in use at the bench.



The first upgrade to the bench was to put a proper vice on - a Record 52 1/2:



I like it with the back flush to the front of the bench.

For planing, I mostly use a simple wooden bench stop (Record No 169).



This can be supplemented with some of Richard T's wonderful holdfasts:



or if I feel the need to grip from the end, a Veritas surface mounted clamp



I do feel quite well sorted for workholding options now. For metalworking, I have mounted my metalwork vice on a board so it can be quickly clamped in the woodwork vice:



and if I get round to do any carving, I have this lovely Parrot vice (thanks to my Secret Santa in 2012!)



while for dovetails I have an original Coates brand Moxon vice!


Overall, it suits my ways of working and gives me enough space for the sort of work I do. To summarise a few tips:

- A bench does not need exotic timber.
- Fixing to the floor brings rigidity.
- Don't be shy of modifying it as you need to.
 

Sheffield Tony

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Never mind the bench, I want to see your vacuum cleaner ! Where's all the sawdust and shavings ? I can never get rid of them all :lol:
 

Pete Maddex

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Nice.

I have a metal vice mounted the same way, but my board had a lip round the edges to stop the swarf from getting out!

Pete
 

AndyT

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Sheffield Tony":3jpm6fu8 said:
Never mind the bench, I want to see your vacuum cleaner ! Where's all the sawdust and shavings ? I can never get rid of them all :lol:

I'm glad you liked it Tony! I have spent much of the day tidying and cleaning before taking these. Just for you, here's one from the archives showing a more commonly seen state of play:

 

AndyT

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Pete Maddex":3a8siaa4 said:
Nice.

I have a metal vice mounted the same way, but my board had a lip round the edges to stop the swarf from getting out!

Pete
Thanks Pete, that's another good idea I shall borrow!
 

AndyT

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bugbear":2s993rab said:
Do I spy a lovely Record Imp Vise too?

BugBear
Well spotted!

Indeed yes, mounted on yet another offcut of board with a batten on the back. I forgot to exhibit that one and had to go back and check the photos myself. I remember that my dad had one on his bench (minus a bit snapped off by my older brother) so I was especially pleased to get this one, in very good condition. It's an excellent design.
 

JJ1

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Thanks for sharing the pictures of your bench. The tool rack along the back of the bench sounds like an excellent idea.
 
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