My Dad made this bench in about my last year of school, or perhaps shortly thereafter. It’s made of some scrap pine that he got from somewhere. He made the vice too, complete.
It is an interesting design. We didn’t have enough wood for the full width of the top. So the bench has a recessed section at the back intended to place your tools out of the way allowing you to move the project over them while working. It can be quite useful actually, even if it is a bit more difficult to clean. That said, if I were to make myself a new bench, I’m sure there are a few things that I would change, but it is a bench, I’m lucky to have it and I like its history – so it’s not going anywhere.
The one thing that I have always battled with on this bench has been holding wood flat on the top to work with. Okay, a general shortage of clamps is a significant contributing factor, but beyond that the apron at the front means that big clamps are required so mosty clamping only happens on the sides. I’ve though a few times about drilling holes for bench dogs, but the one thing that I’ve wanted to do for some time is fit a bench stop allowing some jobs to be done without clamps at all. Call me slow if you like, but after all these years I finally worked out a simple way to do it.
In the picture below, you will see that there is a piece of wood along the left edge of the top. It’s needed at the back to stop tools rolling off the bench, but it serves no real purpose towards the front.
So I cut it and removed the front section. Then I found a piece of scrap pine that is a little wider than the piece I took out, and I cut to the same length.
Cut a couple of slots in the new wood, screw some bolts into the end of the top and what do you know?
An instant bench stop!
But wait, there’s more (where have you heard that before?). I also finally worked out how to make that recess at the back work for me. All it takes is a few more bolts, some pieces of wood shaped to allow them to swivel up and down (don’t ask why two holes – I was fixated on symmetry with no real reason for it) and some wing nuts. Suddenly I can have bench stops at the back as well.
But it’s a long bench so I couldn’t just stop at two, could I now?
And finally we have the demonstration photo of how it should be used
The best thing about the photo above is the wood. It was given to me by a local cabinet maker from his scrap shelf. It’s a 90cm (36”) long and 30cm (12”) wide oak varnished shelf recycled from a local University. He gave me three of those plus another beautiful piece of wood and I should get another chance to talk to him again next week about some more!
And for those who love a good shave, I’ve included one final photo below. Yes, the plane needs some attention to make it shine, but the blade is sharp – just look at those wood shavings. Isn’t it just what it’s all about?
So there you have it, an afternoon well spent after all these years.
-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking