|Project by PioneerRob||posted 12-18-2014 05:54 AM||10093 views||30 times favorited||16 comments|
I have found myself often wanting to work in the backyard, or at the cottage, or other place where there is no workbench. So, my solution was to make myself a small portable workbench with the following requirements: small enough to fit in my Mazda 5 with all the family (5 of us, with no luggage… hmmm…), light enough to carry in 1 or 2 trips to or from the car, and simple function. That later requirement translates into no vices, just holdfasts, clamps, bench stop, and a side hook.
1. Fully assembled.
2. Disassembled in car.
3. Assembly: the parts ready.
4. Assembly: first half of the base.
5. Assembly: complete base.
6. In it’s new home, my kitchen. Sometimes used for cooking or woodworking, depending on the day. Yes, I have a very patient wife.
Dimensions: top 35-1/2” x 15-1/2”, 36” high.
As with most of my projects lately, the stuff has been machine jointed and thickness planed, and all other operations were done by hand tools.
A lot of the design and construction techniques were chosen to experiment with testing and practising ideas and dimensions for another much less portable workbench for my main shop.
The top is made of two 2” thick boards of poplar, with a 2” face glued to the top. I chose poplar mostly because I’m cheap, but also I’m curious how it’ll wear. The poplar top is also nice and light (compared to the birch/mable top I’m working on for my main bench). One thing I’ve learned already is that the holdfast holes don’t hold up well in the poplar. The base was by far the difficult part, and if I need to remake a better top in the future I’m okay with that.
The base consists of two legs tied together with two wide stretchers. For easy assembly and disassembly, the stretchers are held in the legs with a wedged tuck tenon. This provides a strong joint that, with the extra width, resists racking. The legs are mortise and tenoned and draw bored together.
The top and base are connected by way of four screws, two on the top and two on the face. The connecting holes are slotted to allow for seasonal movement of the top and face.
For finishing, the top is rubbed with Danish oil and the base is paste wax over milk paint. I tried a weird method for painting the base. I first painted two coats of “federal blue”, followed by two coats of black. The paste wax is to resist water staining, but I’m sure that it is by no means water proof/resistant. The two colour paint scheme came to me in a dream, or maybe it was inspired by the many layers of paint on my 100+ year old house (which haunts me in my nightmares), or something. To be honest I just thought it will be cool to watch the thing age. If I did everything right and it lasts, maybe auctioneers of the future will be left scratching their BrainCaps trying to appraise it.
A note on the size. The top dimensions so far have been fine, although I would love a couple of more feet of length. I realize that this is pretty high for a workbench, but I’m 6’, and so far the height has been perfect for all the work I’ve done on it. However, the height combined with its light weight and short width means that it tends to move around when doing work coplanar to the top, such as sawing and planing. I have found that I have to put a foot on a leg sometimes.
I finished this project early this fall (I’ve been really busy and have been putting off posting it), and have done a few projects (soon to be posted as well) on it. I’m pretty happy with it so far. I still have to add the bench stop and side hook
-- Rob, Ontario