There are lots of ways to get around not having a sliding deadman – sometimes called a “board jack” – on your workbench. For the last 15 months I have been working on a bench without a deadman or a tail vise, so I am always looking out for novel solutions.
This weekend a woodworker named Adrian from Toronto sent me some photos of a clever bench accessory he spotted while on holiday. Adrian was in the Basque region of France and came upon this bench built by a woodworker named Herve.
The bench is a typical French model with beefy components, the legs are co-planar to the front edge of the benchtop and there is no tail vise.
What caught my eye was the planing support to the left of the face vise. It works like a horizontal planing stop. It is friction-fit and moves in and out. The tongue of the planing support helps support work from below when boards are clamped in the quick-release face vise.
While this might not seem like a big deal, if you have ever tried to clamp a long board to plane its edge without a bench slave or deadman, the board will tend to pivot like a see-saw when you start planing. Even a simple support like this can work wonders in keeping the board in place.
I cannot recall seeing this feature on any workbench before, so cheers to Herve and Adrian for bringing it to my attention.
— Christopher Schwarz