One of the biggest obstacles to beginning woodworkers is carving out a space to work in, and building a bench to work on.
Recently, I built a pair of portable workbenches that are closely based on a now-disappeared commercial bench from the 20th century. These small-scale benches clamp to almost any surface, from a kitchen island to a dining table, and provide a lot of workholding.
• There’s a twin-screw vise that can hold an entire case side for dovetailing.
• A wagon vise and dog system that holds work up to 23” long for planing.
• A work surface for chopping and paring.
• The wagon vise’s jaws also hold tenons for sawing and planing.
All you need to hold the bench to a surface is a pair of F-style clamps.
The plans for this bench will be published in the next issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. But if you have a generous heart and would like to get a jump on this project, read on.
Recently, I’ve been in touch with a serviceman – an Air Force aircraft maintainer – who is trying very hard to get into hand-tool woodworking but doesn’t have the space or workbench for the craft. He sent me an e-mail asking if I could make one of these benches for him to purchase. Unfortunately, my shop schedule is booked up until the fall, and I don’t want him to have to wait that long.
If you have the time or interest in making one of these benches for one of the hardworking members of our active military, I’d like to talk to you about it. I can provide the full plans for the project, plus I’d be happy to loan you my thread-cutting kit from Beall Tools to make the screws. All you’d have to provide is about $25 worth of maple and a couple days in your shop.
If you are seriously interested, please send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update: We’ve had several dozen woodworkers volunteer to help. Thanks to everyone, and I’ll post a follow-up to this story in the coming weeks.
— Christopher Schwarz