I've always thought the English bench offered the best combination of no muss no fuss work holding vs. complication. The only thing I do not like about the English bench is the lightness of construction. Anyway I've been thinking that a nice thick, heavy apron on my French bench might be the answer instead of the bench jack but thinking about it and doing it are two different things.
Bottom line it has been on the back burner, just a hummm thought every once in a while until a couple of days ago. The wood store's wood of the month is Walnut, I'm out of Walnut so I went by to look at what they had. I didn't like any of the 8/4 Walnut in their stacks so I looked around to see if there was anything else of interest.
Hidden at the bottom of the 8/4 Beech stack was an 8' almost 400mm wide hunk of timber which would be perfect for an apron. A little over one hundred USDs later I'm tying it down in the back of my truck, still not sure if I'm going to do it but I sure as hell wasn't going to let that board get away.
Today I had time to wrestle it in place and look at what it would be like.....I'm still not 100% but I expect I'll attach it with Spax screws and see what it is like to live with. If it doesn't work I'll have one big hunk of firewood to burn before winter's over.
Clamped in place:
The only down sides I can think of off hand are it will limit the use of dogs to ones that have a lip and it will restrict easy reaching from the front of the bench for the planes and bench appliances storied under the bench. The dogs are not a real problem because I seldom use dogs, I mostly use holdfasts and battens.
Anyway if I'm about to screw the pooch pipe up.