Saturday, December 08, 2018

"...Never Try to Outfox the Dead..."

The full quote from The anarchist's Tool Chest by Christopher Schwarz* is: "Most importantly, never try to outfox the dead when it comes to design. It's like a zombie movie; it almost never works out for the living."

The quote was about building tool chests but it has been my guide for almost everything I've done in woodworking for almost as long as I can remember. If you can figure out how the dead did it that is likely the best way to do the job. Be it tool chests, workbenches, boxes, chairs, whatever you are trying to design or build.

What brought this to mind were some of the comments, not on this blog but a forum where I posted a thread on building Moravian workbenches.

One was: "I'm a touch surprised that someone went to the trouble of building a bench with slanted legs and then mounted the leg vise dead vertical..." Then goes on to explain why a slanted leg vise was better. With no understanding of design decisions or even in reality the relative holding power of slanted vs. vertical chops. I'm not into intertubes pissing matches so I declined to answer but there were two logical questions the first being; how many workbenches have you build and/or used? The second; have you used a slanted leg vise and/or a vertical leg vise?

Another when on to explain to me why my placement and size of the long stretchers was totally wrong and that the only way to hold small pieces for planning was to pinch the work between a dog and a vise. Needless to say I left that one setting there like a turd in the punch bowl as well.

Bottom line the net allows everyone to be an expert and even better can be a great hoot. Just stay out of pissing matches and don't take it personal.


*Page 365 The Anarchist's Tool Chest. Copyright 2011.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Like When I Was Young

And had a new car. I've found myself in the shop just sitting with coffee in hand looking at the new bench and occasionally running my hand over it. I know it will pass but damn she sure is pretty.

I put the bench to use yesterday getting a seat blank true. The seat blank is now true and the bench worked with no problems other than figuring out how to hold the blank. It took a minute or two to work out the needed dogs, doe foot and holdfast placement. Once that bit of butt scratching passed the bench passed its first test with no problems.

She's a keeper.


Thursday, December 06, 2018

The Bench Really Is Finished

This time I mean it, the bench is finished, in place and ready to work. The small Moravian has been broken down and loaded in the truck so I can take it to Houston for our Winter Solstice celebration with the kids and have it available to repair the damage to the shipped changing table.

I'm not sure if the new bench will stay in the secondary bench position or if it will swap positions with the French/English bench.

I added ledgers to the long stretchers yesterday in case I decide on installing a lower shelf. I expect I will and it was easy to install the ledgers while the bench was apart for cleaning up the build marks.

Anyway here are some photos:

I don't know who is happier about it being finished MsBubba or me.


Tuesday, December 04, 2018

If You Haven't Noticed

I'm a fanboy of the Moravian style workbench with a Lake Erie Toolworks vise screw.

Several years ago I started searching for a useable portable workbench.  With true retirement, none of this silly semi-retirement of the last twelve years where it has been short on the retirement and long on the semi. Over this period I've worked more than I ever did before but that is another story.

I knew I needed something to keep me from boredom while driving MsBubba around the country. I figured a portable workbench would be the real deal. Sounds easy, just make or buy something that is light, will fit into or break down easily to fit into the bins of the motorhome. Done deal, not so fast diesel breath.

Every design I came up with to build or buy all had a "yes but" factor. It seems with every workbench you could have some of the needed small footprint for transportation, light components, ease of assembly and disassembly, and a strong solid workbench. You could have two or three of the needed factors but never all four.

I toyed with the idea for several years and always ran into yes but until I stumbled across Will Myers' video building a Moravian style workbench. I could see at first viewing that the Moravian bench would satisfy the first three criteria with no problem and should do an ok job with the fourth. What I didn't realize was just how good a job it would do with the fourth factor of being a strong, solid workbench.

After viewing Will's video I build my first Moravian bench out of Home Depot DF and took it on our annual PNW trip. It worked a treat so much so I decided to build another this time with a Poplar base and a Beech slab and to replace my sharpening bench with the proof of concept Moravian bench.

Pretty much the same story, the second bench worked even better than the first. It was such a nice to work on bench I moved an older Roubo bench out of the secondary bench position and replaced it with the Moravian. The little bench worked so well and was such a pleasure to use I found myself doing at least 70% of my work on it instead of my massive French/English primary bench.

Nothing left to do but build a third Moravian. This time forgetting portably but building a bench with the mass and size needed for a shop bench. I completed that bench yesterday and in the little I've worked on it it does not disappoint.

After working on and building  several Moravian style benches as well as working on and building several Roubo style benches I can say with confidence the Moravian has every benefit of the French bench with non of the drawbacks. It uses less wood for the same sized bench, while lighter the finished bench is just as solid, the joinery is easier and more tolerant, and most important it can be broken down to move and/or modify as needed. The French bench once build is almost impossible to move and can be very difficult to modify.

As I said at the beginning I'm a fanboy. If you are thinking about building a bench, not just a portable bench but any bench, you should check out Will's video.


Monday, December 03, 2018

The Fat Lady Has Sung, Fini

Done, time to sweep up and put tools away. I'll leave the portable up and in the way for a bit. As I clean up the build the slab may, will, need to come off a few times and the portable bench makes it easier.

Over the next few days I'll add some dog holes, clean up the slab end grain and the tool tray. A couple of stops need to be made and fitted. And somewhere in there I'll need to take it apart to clean up the stretchers and bases.

Future bench appliances will be ledgers and a lower shelf and maybe a deadman. The deadman I've used before were more in the way than helpful, I think I may have figured out how to make one work, we will see.

Some photos of the bench:

And last the Glamour shot:

What a great bench, all the advantages of a Roubo with none of the drawbacks.


Sunday, December 02, 2018

Trouble With Unplugged Shop

For some reason Unplugged Shop is not refreshing. The last new post was Will Myers on 12/1. I've tried rebooting, Clearing my cache and history. Anyone else having a problem? Is it my computer or is the site just not working?

The new bench is all but finished. The vise is installed, all that is left is making a tool tray and cleaning up all the marks on the base plus I need to install the brass garder and trim the wedges on the chop as well as trim the top of the chop.

Still a bit of fiddling but it is functional. I'll leave the portable bench up for a few more days because I expect the slab will need removing several more times during the clean up

Later I may add ledgers and a bottom shelf and there is some though of a deadman, not likely but the English style apron is really handy and a dead man could almost do the same job.

During the clean up I'll trim the end grain on the slab and make bigger wedges for the tusk tenons and put some dog holes and a stop near the left end


I'm looking forward to putting this sucker to work.


Saturday, December 01, 2018

The Fat Lady Is In The Building

No singing yet but damn close.

The vise backer is installed. All that is left is making and fitting the chop and making a tool tray.

I figure the chop is a couple or three hours (which means at least 6) and the tool tray a couple more.  After those jobs the bench will be functional, just needing a little clean up. You may see joinery markings for months, clean up is usually pretty low on my list. I'd lot rather be making things.

The vise backer with the vise hole and the parallel guide hole:

My back is telling me it is whisky time in Tucson.


Fitting The Vise Backer Board

I've spend most of the day fitting the vise backer board. Next up one last M/T to chop in the slab and the vise backer. Then drilling the hole for the vise screw, and cutting the channel for the parallel guide. If things go faster than expected and my back isn't kvetching too much I may start on the chop before whisky time.

Whoops Bubba you are getting too far over your skis. I forgot about the M/T in the chop to hold the parallel guide. Whatever they are both small and quick M/Ts.

I'm not counting on it but I may finish this sucker before the weekend is over.