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PortaBench

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Project by james3one posted 07-07-2013 08:24 PM 7900 views 45 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

1757 posts in 2419 days


#1 posted 07-07-2013 08:57 PM

Great little bench. Looks very handy.

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

View Sergio's profile

Sergio

424 posts in 1693 days


#2 posted 07-07-2013 09:51 PM

very good small bench indeed!

-- - Greetings from Brazil - --

View aussiedave's profile

aussiedave

3090 posts in 825 days


#3 posted 07-07-2013 11:23 PM

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

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

View Dakkar's profile

Dakkar

298 posts in 928 days


#4 posted 07-08-2013 02:42 AM

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

1815 posts in 1193 days


#5 posted 07-08-2013 03:12 AM

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

194 posts in 1995 days


#6 posted 07-08-2013 03:36 AM

nice!

View docholladay's profile

docholladay

1287 posts in 2060 days


#7 posted 07-08-2013 04:32 AM

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

486 posts in 1410 days


#8 posted 07-08-2013 06:36 AM

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

5218 posts in 1008 days


#9 posted 07-08-2013 10:17 AM

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

176 posts in 1125 days


#10 posted 07-08-2013 12:40 PM

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

46 posts in 1773 days


#11 posted 07-08-2013 01:18 PM

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

174 posts in 1417 days


#12 posted 07-08-2013 02:20 PM

good idea I really like it you got me thinking

-- Punk in PA

View CL810's profile

CL810

2912 posts in 1989 days


#13 posted 07-08-2013 02:31 PM

Clever idea and it looks very functional – great job.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View Porcupine's profile

Porcupine

31 posts in 910 days


#14 posted 07-08-2013 05:08 PM

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

7053 posts in 2152 days


#15 posted 07-08-2013 05:37 PM

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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