In Tricks of the Trade

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Having light precisely where you need it at the bench makes it easier to see what you’re doing, especially for jobs such as laying out joinery, cutting dovetails and other detail work. This sliding block holds the stem of my articulating-arm lamp, and it allows me to move the light anywhere I need it along my 7′-long bench. The device works well with any bench that has a recessed tool tray, and could easily be modified to fit other bench styles if necessary.

Size the parts to fit your particular bench and the light you’ll be using. The vertical block should be a tad longer than your bench back rail is wide for a nice, sliding fit. You can rabbet the top and bottom blocks on the table saw, using over-long stock for safety. Or, create the lipped areas by simply gluing and clamping together separate pieces of wood. I don’t join anything permanently, so I can remove the block when necessary, such as when laying large work (for example, a sheet of plywood) over my benchtop. To this end, secure the top block with screws and install 14“-20 hanger bolts in the vertical block and attach the bottom block with 14“-20 lock knobs. To quickly remove the device from your bench, simply unscrew the knobs and lift the block upward.

To keep your new sliding block moving at the speed of light, wax all the bearing surfaces of the block and the bench rail. If you find the block binds a bit, try adding paper or cardboard shims between the bottom and vertical blocks. — Andy Rae 


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