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Old 02-05-2012, 06:01 PM
derekcohen's Avatar
derekcohen derekcohen is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Perth, Australia
Posts: 446
Default Building a Bench in Perth

There was not meant to be thread on building a bench. I asked a few questions on a couple of forums, and it snowballed. Below is an attempt to pull these together for you.

My existing bench is 18 years old, has been modified many times over the years to keep pace with my changing approach to woodwork, and is showing its years. It is small - about 4'10" long. It is too wide - about 26". The top has been planed down so many times that the dowels I used to orientate the boards all those years ago are now showing half their thickness. Although the legs are spindly, the bench is really rigid as it is bolted to the wall (the new bench will be placed about 2 ft from the wall). The Record 52 1/2 vises are now hopeless. The front vise racks and the tail vise does not open unless you hold down the release lever while you turn the handle. And it is too dark. The Karri top may look exotic in pictures, but it does not reflect light well.

The bench has been a good friend but I still find it amazing that I managed to do so much work on it. I procrastinated and avoided building another as I generally dislike building shop furniture. Or using good wood that would better be used on furniture for the home. But now it is time for a new bench, a better bench.

I like the simplicity of a Roubo. I thank Chris Schwarz for his research and the information he disseminated. It has been educational.

Since building a Moxon vise (for dovetailing) a year ago I have come to recognise that my face vise needs (for planing edges) would now be best met by a leg vise. I plan to build one with a wooden screw (a most kind gift of Wilbur Pan), while the tail vise is a Benchcrafted wagon vise.

Generally I try and build as much as I can from recycled timber. I find a lot of old Jarrah roof trusses. These are dry and hard. They will be turned into the base.

Today I dug out the rafters that I thought would work best. These are 3"- 3 1/2" x 4"- 4 1/2" and around 80" long. I should be able to get four legs at 3" x 5". I am aiming for a 34" high bench.

The top is to be 4" thick, 21-22" wide and 6 ft long, built from European Oak (which means it likely originated from Eastern Europe). One of the members of my local ww club bought a shipment imported by a failed business, and was selling it at a cheaper price than the local Tasmanian Oak, which lacks its stability and texture. This was jointed and thicknessed for me, and has been "acclimatizing" (aka lying around) for several months. There has been minimal movement.

Two boxes at the top ... BenchCrafted tail vise and woodscrew ...

My intention is to build a wooden replica of the steel screw leg vise designed by BenchCrafted. The key feature here are the wheel guides.
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