|Project by stefang||posted 06-25-2014 08:00 PM||3241 views||19 times favorited||40 comments|
I’ve been wanting to replace the Sjoeberg bench I bought about 30 years ago for some time now. It was a cabinet makers bench, but quite small and not steady enough for hand planing. I did find a way to fasten it against the wall to prevent racking, and that worked well, but it was still very narrow with a working surface of only 10” wide with a tool tray running along the back. The bench was way to small for me and the tool tray was very useful for collecting detris and sawdust, but nothing else. I will be taking this bench to my son in Sweden, so I’ll still be using it occasionally when we are visiting him there. Here’s a photo of it.
A new workbench the easy way.
There is a thrift type store in our little town run by some of our local church members. They sell mainly furniture and it is a pretty sizeable store too. My wife and I have donated a lot of stuff there over the years, but we had never actually looked through the store. Curiosity finally got us to stop by one day to have a look.
We were pretty amazed at the range and quality of used furniture they had, mostly donated from estates. Even the upholstered goods looked fresh and new and there were lots of cabinets, dining room furniture and occasional tables too, all in very good condition.
While making the rounds we found a beautiful old trestle table probably new in 1980. It seemed extremely solid and heavily built. I got the notion that it would make a fine woodworking bench with very little effort, so I bought it for about $100 including free delivery. I stored it in my garage for a couple of months and I forgot to take a photo of it before I chopped off about 6” from each end, but here it is after the chop job.
I finally got free from yard work long enough to get it into the shop. Here’s the base in place. The legs are 3” thick and the top is held with 4 lag bolts. Before mounting the top I put it upside down on the base to mount two new 9” quick release vises. They are Record clones, probably from China. I bought them from Axminster tools in the UK. I like them a lot. I raised the bench height to about 34-1/2” with laminated fir risers at each end which I glued onto the top of the leg pieces.
Next I hand planed the top. Pretty easy since its pine, and knot free too. After that I drilled dog holes in the bench top and also on the wooden vise jaws I installed. I use white oak for the dogs. Long ones from top to bottom on the vises jaws and 2” long for the ones in the top. They are just a friction fit for the time being.
I put the holes in line with the vise jaw dogs to get the one row close to front edge of the bench. I have to use bridges when I use the vise’s own dogs as shown below.
The row of holes nearest the wall are intended for holdfasts and/or clamps. My Bosch sliding mite saw has a great little quick release clamp that fits into my benches 3/4” dog holes, another stroke of luck.
I also wanted to be able to plane stuff like cabinet doors and large panels, so this worked out pretty good too.
Then I decided I wanted a bench jack to work the edges of doors and large panels. This jack is locked onto the bench in any one of the dog holes running along the front edge.
I also needed two anti vise racking spacers, one for each vise. I found a nice idea for this one from PaBull’s project post here Thanks for sharing PaBull!
I needed a good way to plane thin stock both edgewise and also the faces. I got this idea from ‘The Workbench Book’ by Scott Landis. I bought the book just for an interesting read quite a few years ago, and I have been enjoying it since. Here is the jig:
this wedge jig works really well. I love it already. I will probably make two more of them, one thicker for larger stock and a thinner one for ultra thin workpieces. If you decide to make one of these holding jigs, make sure you put a hook on the end of the wedge like I did, That way you can just bang the end of the workpiece and it tightens the wedge at the same time.
My last jig is this simple bench hook.
All of these accessories wouldn’t be very useful if they weren’t close at hand when needed, but out of the way when not in use, so I put strings through the holes in the smaller jigs and just hung on screws at the ends of the bench. The bench jack is also stored next to the end vise where I drilled an extra hole in the bench top so it could be locked in place for storage. There is also a small box in one of the drawers to hold the bench dogs when they’re not in use.
Lastly, I was able to use the drawers and carcase from my old bench. I will probably make some nicer ones when I get around to it. The overall dimensions of the bench top is 2” thick, 33” wide and 67” long. It doesn’t move at all while hand planing or any other type of work. That is mainly due to the very robust base, but the thick top is very heavy too and probably lends some extra stability.
This bench has really boosted my enthusiasm. I know it’s not beautiful like so many of the fantastic workbenches posted on LJ and the top is soft wood, but I’m over the moon about it because of the many holding options it gives me for using my hand tools.
Any comments positive or negative are welcomed. I hope you like it and thanks for having a look.
-- Mike, an American living in Norway.