A Proper Bench for Bob-Answers and Revisions - Popular Woodworking Magazine

A Proper Bench for Bob-Answers and Revisions

 In Letters, Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs, Workbenches

Because my last post generated a lot of response, I’m posting some more pictures of the bench I’m planning to build, and I’ll answer some of the questions raised. A lot of the changes in the drawing below were in my head, but hadn’t appeared in the drawing. The original post was a spur of the moment thing, motivated by Christopher Schwarz’s response to a question on WoodCentral. My original plan was to build a near copy of a Nicholson bench, but as I thought about it, and saw the version that Chris built, I started making some changes.

The dog holes and quick-release vise have been moved closer to the front edge. I still need to work out the hole locations for the face vise. I’ve added a shelf between both sets of rails-simply adding cleats along the inside bottom edges of the rails and running planks across them. I think they’ll work for keeping parts, clamps and other stuff handy without hiding them away, or interfering with the holdfasts. The tool trays are simple boxes that rest on another set of cleats along the bottom edge of the two top slabs. I’m planning on some stubby dowels in the cleats-holes in the top and bottom edges of the boxes will fit over the dowels to keep the boxes in place.

The bench is designed to be disassembled. The top pieces bolt down to two end assemblies, the upper rails with the half lap dovetails will bolt to the legs, and the lower rails are a wedged dovetail that I saw on a drawing of an older Nicholson bench. If (or when) the rail to leg connections loosen, I can reach down and smack the wedge in to tighten things up. I’m curious to see often this will need to be done. With the wedge removed, the end of the rail lifts up and out of the leg. The top rail’s face is flush with the leg, an important part of the “clamp to the front” scheme.

This view from below shows the “round thing”. It’s actually a cam screwed into the leg and turning it will raise or lower the planing stop. This is another detail I lifted from an old drawing, and I’m curious to see if it works. I expect there will be some fiddling with it to get it to work the way I think it should.

Thanks for all the comments and questions, it’s nice to get feedback from readers before a project as well as after.

–Bob Lang

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Showing 2 comments
  • Alan


    I’m building a modified version of the Holtzapffel myself, and added an additional rail also, set 6" below the bottom of the top so I could get clamps between also. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, and will be mounting my end vise today (I’m declaring this snow day in California, but we have no snow;-).

    I like the looks of your bench, although the breakdown aspect to me seems overrated as most people rarely move their workbench. I’ll be waiting to see some real live pics of it after you start working on it, it has nice lines to it.

  • Paul Kierstead

    That is shaping up to be interesting, even though I am not a lover of center tool wells (I have one, I don’t like it). I like the planing stop.

    But what is also interesting is this sort-of online collaborative project and build. Very interesting.

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