When I first set out to solve all of my problems (refer to previous post) I couldn't help but think of MacGyver. MacGyver could fix everything, all he needed was some duct tape and the ultimate swiss army knife. I think of the workbench as my swiss army knife, and yes I do actually carry a Swiss Army knife and have done so since I was a kid, still the same knife too. You need to have one if you are to get anything done, but if you have to many accessories it will cause more problems than it will fix.
So, what does this mean for my workbench design. Well... I am starting with the basic Roubo design. Which I think is pretty much the basis for almost every bench made because it is broken down to the simplest of parts. 1 top, 4 legs, and 4 stretchers. If you took away even one part, it would stand, but would not be standing for long as a workbench. Every part serves a function.
After the 1 top, 4 legs and 4 stretchers, everything else is some sort of accessory. The vise, holdfast, bench hook, etc... they are all added for personal preference in work holding.
The fist deviation that I am going to make is to split the top in half. I am doing this for several reasons. 1. when the tops expand and contract over time they will do so toward the middle. 2. I can use the center divider as a planing stop. This is very handy. 3. The split will accept clamps for all kinds of clamping nonsense. 4. The center divider can be used as a tool rack while I am working on things, this is especially nice when doing fine joinery and needing saws, chisels, squares, and marking gauges constantly. and 5. With the top split in half, each half is easier for me to work on and get put together. 5" thick tops are heavy stuff.
But, with a split top also comes one more bench component. Upper bearing stretchers for each leg assembly. These are used first to hold the top up from folding in on itself in the middle, but they also give another location to attach the top to the undercarriage.
Now the second accessory that I am going to add is a leg vise. This one is kind of obvious, you do need a way of clamping pieces to work on them. As a side note I will say, besides some similarity to the twin screw vice, the leg vise is the only vise that uses racking(normally a bad thing) in its own favor. Normally when a vise racks it has a negative effect on it ability to clamp a work piece, but with a parallel guide on bottom, a screw in the middle, the top closes and uses the racking of the vise to clamp the work piece. It seems so very simple, but it is the only vise that I know of that uses this fault as its greatest asset.
The screw that I will be using comes from Lake Erie Toolworks. I did opt to make my own garter and handle, you can buy them from them, but I just needed to save some money. Building a bench can be as expensive as you want it to be.
The next accessory will be the Veritas Inset Vise and a row of dogs that will be about 2" or less from the front edge of the bench. No, this is not something that you have to have, but it is really nice and something that makes your life easier. Specially for working with a plow plane, rabbet plane, fillister plane, planing boards, and tons of other jobs.
I really like the Veritas Inset Vise because it is cheaper than a full fledged wagon vise, much easier to install, keeps the work fully supported on the bench, works great, and can be added to almost any bench.
A third Vise???? Really, REALLY. Who needs three vises?
Think about this for a minute. Many woodworkers today have a face vise and a tail vise of some sort. And now, everyone is building Moxon twin screw vises, WHY? Well, because there is nothing better for doing dovetails or case joinery than using a twin screw with 24" between the screws. But, keeping with the fact that my shop is small , and the last thing I need is another thing laying under or around my bench. I would rather add it to the back of my bench then have something else to keep track of. My bench isn't against the wall all the time, so it will be easy to get to, and it just makes the most sense to me. It will be a little bit of a trick to add this vise to the back, but I am not the only one who has done it before, so I know it can be done.
Outside of the three vises, I will also be installing a planing stop. This works will with the center divider or even a batten, specially for rough work and/or large pieces.
Now I come to the most controversial part of the new bench build. The possibility of tool storage.
Yes, I love my tool chest, yes it was a lot of work, but it does take up floor space and I have also put a decent amount of tools up on racks and hooks in my shop. My chest is about half empty most days and the little that is in the chest could easily fit into a few small drawers. Plus, the convenience of just opening a drawer at the bench and pulling out marking and measuring gear, chisels, files, and even planes is very appealing to me.
Now, obviously I am not going to just jump right into this decision. I need to finish the bench first and then maybe build a small bank of drawers. It will really come down to how things look and feel in the shop with the new bench. If I still feel the need for more space, the tool chest will go in the house for now, and I will build a bank of drawers for the tools I still store in the chest. I have thought about a tool cabinet, but the name of the game here is conserve space. I can think of no better way than use the space under my bench for additional storage, convenience, and weight.
Stay tuned because the bench build has already started and I will have pictures and video to go along with it.
Thanks for visiting and stay an touch.