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PortaBench

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Project by james3one posted 368 days ago 4499 views 44 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I try to maintain a professional attitude but have to admit to the occasion giggle with this in my workroom.

This started as a way to use a bench top, temporarily. I had a large piece of 8/4 Beech that I had milled up by hand, that was going to be used to make a medieval period workbench. I decided that I wanted to use that slab in my workroom so I would’nt have to go out to the garage to use my main workbench. The idea was supposed to be as simple as possible and would allow me to use this bench top on another piece. I designed a small bench, based on the framing I use for all of my other worktables(which I saw on Finewoodworking.com). The ideas just grew from there…

Contrary to my usual engineering method, this design became more and more complex. From a simple flat top, to a large face for hold fasts, to a large simple vise with runners held with bar clamps, to a complete bench with a two-screw vise(thanks to Roy and Chris on the Woodwright’s Shop), including raised framing to act as planing stop. Oddly enough, each of the simpler versions still remained a viable option, giving me lots of ways to use this thing.

The top and vise are 8/4 Beech and the face is 8/4 Maple. Those pieces are very easy to remove(1st pic below) and make the bench very portable. The framing is out of Douglas Fir 2×4s planed down in both directions to sharpen up and square the faces and reduce weight. The whole thing is held together with 2-1/2” Deckmate Screws. I’ll add glue to the legs when I’m sure the design works.

46-5/8” long, 12-1/8” wide(20-3/4” at base), Top is at 34” above the floor and the legs are canted out at 15 degrees(from Roy Underhills French workbench). I used 1-1/2” dowel stock for the vise screws and 1-1/4” dowel stock for the vise runners. I made a total of 5 screws to get 2 that worked(Hint: cut off the first inch or two of the dowel before cutting the threads, its likely to be too dry). Also spent a little time just to fit the vise so it would move with relative ease. i used scrap poplar for the screw handles. I damaged one of the handles and left it that way to remind myself of how not to use the sliding compound miter saw.

CHANGES: I’ve added several holes, 3/4” each for bench dogs(made from 3/4” maple dowels), and for my holdfasts. The last few pics show them being used. A small triangle of wood helps hold small parts and larger parts with canted ends. Still need to add leather to the interior face of the vise.

-- James, Tulsa OK,





18 comments so far

View MShort's profile

MShort

1720 posts in 2002 days


#1 posted 368 days ago

Great little bench. Looks very handy.

-- Mike, Missouri --- “A positive life can not happen with a negative mind.” ---

View Sergio's profile

Sergio

399 posts in 1276 days


#2 posted 368 days ago

very good small bench indeed!

-- - Greetings from Brazil - --

View aussiedave's profile

aussiedave

3014 posts in 408 days


#3 posted 368 days ago

Great little bench….looks very solid and a great idea….well done.

-- Dave.......Keep calm and make more sawdust....

View Dakkar's profile

Dakkar

297 posts in 511 days


#4 posted 368 days ago

I like it. It has the functionality of a full sized workbench with a footprint not much more than that of a sawhorse. You obviously put a lot of thought into it and it’s got some good ideas.

View Tugboater78's profile

Tugboater78

939 posts in 776 days


#5 posted 368 days ago

very nice

-- Justin - the tugboat woodworker - " nothing changed me like the first shnick from a well sharpened, decent hand plane"

View Jeff82780's profile

Jeff82780

172 posts in 1578 days


#6 posted 368 days ago

nice!

View docholladay's profile

docholladay

1284 posts in 1643 days


#7 posted 368 days ago

That is a very cool idea. I would have to make a second one because it always seems that things like that work best in pairs. Also, have you thought of adding holes in the tops for using your hold fasts on the top. Very handy when using as a saw bench.

Doc

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View planeBill's profile

planeBill

465 posts in 993 days


#8 posted 368 days ago

Way to go!!! A superfine endeavor.

-- I was born at a very young age, as I grew up, I got older.

View JoeinGa's profile

JoeinGa

3047 posts in 591 days


#9 posted 368 days ago

No doubt this will be copied many times over. Neat little bench!

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View gepatino's profile

gepatino

152 posts in 708 days


#10 posted 368 days ago

I was thinking on making a mini Paulk bench, but this one is tempting me.
Maybe I’m taking some ideas from this one in the future.

Nice work!

-- http://about.me/gepatino

View james3one's profile

james3one

41 posts in 1356 days


#11 posted 368 days ago

Doc – I’ve been debating the holes in the top for hold fasts, etc. but given how narrow the top is, I should be able to use clamps for most situations. I’m planning to make a few jigs that store in the bench. Will make and adjust things as the need arises.

-- James, Tulsa OK,

View punk's profile

punk

141 posts in 1000 days


#12 posted 367 days ago

good idea I really like it you got me thinking

-- Punk in PA

View CL810's profile

CL810

1868 posts in 1572 days


#13 posted 367 days ago

Clever idea and it looks very functional – great job.

-- "It's amazing how much can go wrong when you think you know what you're doing."

View Porcupine's profile

Porcupine

31 posts in 493 days


#14 posted 367 days ago

Man, I love it! I always think “I wish I had a bench in here”. With this, I could

-- Joe, South Carolina

View Mauricio's profile

Mauricio

6732 posts in 1735 days


#15 posted 367 days ago

I love it! Great idea!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

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