Thursday, July 03, 2014

Bench Curmudgeon

The base of the new bench will be Beech, the local wood store has a 25% off sale on Beech add in another 15% for buying more than 100 BF and it gets pretty reasonable. In fact cheaper than any of the usable domestics, so a little over 100BF of 8/4 Beech followed me home this morning. I broke it down off the bed of the truck so I only had to move four 10' boards from the truck to the wood rack. Still by the time I started breaking the Beech down the temp was in the mid 90s with a mid 20% RH. By the time I finished it had kicked my ass.

I've a helper scheduled for tomorrow to true and dimension the slab, the guy I had helping me last Sunday went into tachycardia that evening. Hope this bench build doesn't end up killing someone.

The design of the bench has been pretty well set from the get go, the only real questions were split top or not and what wood for the base but the voyeur in me can't help looking at what others are doing. Maybe I don't understand folks reasons and yes I know different things blow different people's skirts but damn it seems most of the benches are not being built to work wood but to see how many gadgets the builder can add to his/her bench.

I admit to trying many of the "must haves"....leg vises, wagon vises, sliding deadmen.  You name it, with the exception of the classic Scandinavian tail vise, I've tried it. Most just add clutter to the bench and get in the way of working wood.

The new bench will have a Paramo #52 face vise, some dog holes, an asymmetrical split top, and I will make a bench jack for the few occasions a jack or sliding deadman is handy. There will be no tail vise, wagon, or otherwise. With the face vise, a few different bench stops, some battens and holdfasts I can hold just about anything I want to work on easier, quicker and with less monkey motion than I would be able to on almost any of the benches I see being built.

Damn I'm becoming a bench curmudgeon...Hey you kids get off my rocks, back in the day we didn't need no stinking vises, we held our work with our toes, let me tell you...........

Back on my meds, the leg blanks rough cut, waiting to be rough dimensioned, trued and glued:


  1. I'm with you on the deadman. I've thought of adding it or making a new bench with it. I've been using a standing jack for over 20 years. The only problem I have with it is finding it when I need it.

  2. Ralph,

    Like you I had always used a jack, I thought on the current bench I would try a deadman, not a major mistake but the deadman is always in the way and I have to pull the dogs to move it. Too much effort for little advantage. It is the same story with the wagon vise, costly and a lot of work to install, again too much effort and cost for too little advantage. A leg vise much the same story, expensive, a PITA to install and works much slower than the English quick release vises and in my experience doesn't hold work any better.

    The new bench will just be a slab with a few 3/4" round dog holes and a Record/Paramo face vise. Simple to build, easy to use, and nothing to get in the way. When finished I will have a tad over $1000 USD in it, not too bad considering it will have a little over 200 BF of 8/4 European Beech in the base and top.