I have a 3’ x 8’ steel work table and I have another work table (Allan Little style), but neither lend themselves to mounting a traditional vise for hand tool work so I decided to build another work surface. This time a simple and practical split top work bench. I want the bench to be practical with no frivolous joinery and to be able to disassemble it into component parts.
I started, of course, by buying a Wilton wood vise:
I decided, pretty arbitrarily, on about 5’ length mostly due to the Maple I used for the top coming in 10’-11’ lengths. This think this should be plenty long and heavy enough for my purposes.
The well board will be set into two 1.5” rabbits in the slabs and fixed with big screws about 6” on center. There will be two leg assemblies that will be mortise and tenoned together and glued and pegged. Two long stretchers will run between the leg assemblies and will be mortise and tenoned and bolted in place. These design and construction rules will mean I can disassemble the bench and also tighten up the stretchers with the bolts. The slabs will be fixed to the leg assemblies with lag screws. The leg assemblies and stretchers will be made from 8/4 poplar. Here’s a couple of sketchup screen shots to set the tone:
I bought skip planed 8/4 Maple for the top slabs and cut strips and then face glued them into 3” x 12” slabs which I then power planed until both sides were flat and both slabs the same thickness:
I laminated a 12” wide strip of 3/4” baltic birch with white high pressure laminate and then trimmed it down to 9” wide for the well board. I figured this would look pretty good and be easy to keep clean.
To finish the top I will need to cut the slabs to length and finish the exposed edge of the baltic birch plywood with some left over Maple.