|Project by JonasB||posted 08-27-2015 06:30 PM||11784 views||28 times favorited||12 comments|
I decided I needed a good workbench for my “new to me” space and decided to customize some traditional designs. It has some features I have not seen before, so I thought I would share my “thinking and doing” in a forthcoming blog. My workspace is small. I could not fit a long bench. A short bench (51” x 27” x 35.5”) means planning forces have a bigger impact, so I decided to use canted legs. This also helps with clearance under the table for an end vise. I don’t like the way a vertical face vise looks on a canted leg, so my vise is also canted. Besides aesthetics, I felt this would give me a little more clearance underneath for clamping long items vertically. Another goal was that the bench be easy to disassemble and the component pieces light enough so that one person can manage them. If I ever move I don’t want this bench stuck in my old workroom.
The component assemblies are: legs, top and lower shelf. After I built it, I realized that these components are dimensionally amorphous. The legs and shelf can be any size you want and any relationship between them is a design decision. I chose to make the shelf size the same as the top to create clamping opportunities. The leg footprint is also the same size for stability. The shelf could be narrower or shorter to give you an overhang. Even the two leg assemblies could be different dimensionally if you need a trapezoidal table for some reason. (i.e. back legs wider then front legs). Want the legs canting front to back as well? Only the half-laps in the legs for the shelf need to change to the desired angle. The shelf is attached with carriage bolts secured from twisting by torque washers on the face side and a nut and lock washer on the back. I ground the rounded head of the bolts flat (look a little like elevator bolts when done) and buried them in a recess in the front of the leg. A wooden plug hides this hardware. The top has two parts made from 4 quarter sheets of plywood with thick edge trim and is secured to the legs with lag bolts making it a key part of the structural integrity of the bench.
I made my own face vise screw hardware from my junk pile and Ebay acquisitions. Probably the most unusual feature is that I combined a linear bearing system with a chain system. I originally intended to use the linear bearing as a pinless racking parallel lock, but I did not like the way my preliminary tests at using it for this worked, so I added the chain mechanism. I think the chain is a great way of keeping the face vise parallel and the linear bearing in conjunction with the screw keeps everything level and runs smoothly. By accident I came up with a nice keeper combination. The hardware adds a little cost, but the ease of install is really nice. No mortises, tenons, or slots, just 3 holes for the linear bearing and 3 holes for the chain (+1 if under the shelf).
The screw is DIY and, instead of using a bearing to keep things level like some of the commercial units, I went with an overlong 1” screw riding in a 1” pipe that spans the distance between the front and back leg. This gives me a huge clamping distance, but mainly the pipe keeps the screw from sagging. The face vise works just like I intended and I am very happy with the resulting operation.
I added a quick release Ebay end vise and some ornamentation and am ready for my next project.
Future todos: deadman and maybe some mobility enhancements.