Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Current projects

I haven't written much here in a while, because life has been crazy.  I'm working again, which is great, but leaves me with very limited shop time.  Add in the fact that I keep scheduling my weekends for travel, and I have even less.

That said, I've made some progress.  I'm just about done with construction of my all-scrap Dutch tool chest:  it was made from the remains of a workbench which really wasn't useful to me (2x3 and 1x12 construction, and it wiggled when I pushed on it with one finger).  I even managed to scrounge enough screws to do most of the assembly.  I'll need to buy a few more screws, some hardwood for the lid-mounted saw rack, and one more board (probably) for the front panel, but it's basically done other than that.

So what's next?  A new bench.  The one I have is great:  it's heavy, it's solid, and I like the way it looks.  Unfortunately, it's in my unheated shop, where I won't be working for the rest of the year.  So I'm going to build a new one.  My intent is to make it portable:  either folding, or just something I can dismantle.

Right now, I have two ideas. 

1) The Roy Underhill "Woodwright's Apprentice" bench. I like the design, he claims it's stable, and removing a couple of screws lets the whole thing fold up.  It'd be pretty cool to be able to fold up my bench and slide it and my toolbox into the back of my car.

2) The Paul Sellers bench.  This would require some extra work:  it's not really designed to be broken down, though just leaving the legs separate and wedging them in place or something would probably work.  It wouldn't fold down into a single package, though.  On the plus side, I've worked at one, and I quite liked it.

Either way I don't feel the need for a tail vise (I may install a wagon vise, if I can find a way to make it not stick out at all on the end), and I'm OK with a limited front vise:  I'm actually considering just going with the frog design from the Underhill bench regardless of what else I do.

Regardless, it should be an interesting challenge.


  1. I really like Paul Sellers' bench. Had I to do build a bench at home with hand tools, that would be it.

  2. Thanks for the comment! I admit I'm leaning that way, and probably just bolting the legs into the body so I can dismantle it if I want.

    I've also just learned that there's a craft center about 15 minutes from my house with a full woodworking shop and really good membership rates, so I may just move to working there for the most part in the winter. Either way, though, it would be nice to have a good bench inside the house.

  3. In Paul's online video series on building a big version of his workbench, he builds it using wedged joints that knock down. That provides the main mechanical stability and portability. The screws then lock things in place. It's just a slight adaptation in the housing dadoes in the aprons.

    I built one of my 4 workbenches of his this way. It takes about 15 minutes to assemble or disassemble, and the top is heavier, so it's not quite as portable or easy to manage as Roy's bench, but it does work very well. There's also the 40lb vise to mount and dismount and drag around. So if you're just going to use it a few hours at a time that may be more trouble than it's worth. But for longer duration, it's worthwhile.

  4. As an update: I made the decision to move my existing small bench into the basement, and not have a portable bench there. Instead, I'm going to build a slightly larger bench for my garage space, which will be nice to have. That will probably be more or less a straight Paul Sellers bench, most likely about five feet long.