Monday, June 13, 2016

The Big Bench Seat Update

Here's an update on new things we're working on, in particular, our new swinging bench seat. As an aside, the blog has been a bit slow here lately, but it's not for lack of content. We're simply busy with four new products that are demanding much of our attention. If you've not followed our Instagram page, you may want to peek in now and then. We've found it an excellent medium for sharing quick snippets that are just too short for a blog entry.

Development on the bench/swing seat (we don't have an official name yet) is moving forward at a steady pace. We're through with the prototyping and design stages and are in the midst of fabricating and mounting the two patterns for the seat on our foundry match plates, one for the seat's arm, the other for the mounting bracket. After that, we do a small run of castings to check our gating and whether the molten iron is flowing into all the nooks and crannies properly.

Although simple, there are some finer points to this thing that we're going to address. But before we get to that, a few words about cost. These seats were originally used in an industrial or institutional setting. Prisons, cafeterias, schools. In other words, they were made in a rudimentary way to keep costs down and production up, since many of the purchasers were limited by tight budgets. Although we're putting a little more into our version than ones of the past, the philosophy behind the price will remain. We want these to be affordable, and the way we're designing them, they should be. If you decide you want a couple of these for different benches in the shop (or even the house) we're hoping to make that an easy decision to make.

Many of the vintage seats mount via an L-shaped bracket that attaches at a corner. This is fine for general table use, but not for a workbench. We've designed ours to mount on the side of a bench leg, leaving the front plane of the bench uninterrupted. You won't know the seat is even there once you swing it away under the end of the bench.

Another improvement we're incorporating is machined bosses. The bearing surfaces on many vintage seats are simply left sand cast, leaving a less than smooth surface. Machining these areas will guarantee smooth operation and a firmly planted feel while sitting.

Several of you have asked us about an adjustable height feature. This seat will not be adjustable, and there's a couple reasons for this. First is cost. Adding an acme screw, plus joining it to a cast seat base, and then tapping a casting for acme thread are all very expensive processes. Plus, an acme screw will also have a bit of play about the threads. This translates into axial movement, which lends a feeling of instability to the seat. Yes, it's true that threaded seat posts have been made by the thousands in the past, but for a workbench application, we like rigidity.  So, although we could make an adjustable version that would function well, we don't think it's worth the added cost. Plus, we've found in our tests that the vast majority of work done while seated is done from a single height. If you need adjustability, then this isn't the seat for you.

Home use. We've been asked if this seat can be used at a kitchen island, dining table, or bar. The answer is, likely yes. We've designed this for use primarily as a workbench accessory, and have sized it for such. When sitting at a bench you want to be able to get close to your work, so we've sized the arm so the seat position places most people's thighs (and knees) even with or a bit past the mounting bracket, and thus, under the bench top. This also means the seat can be rotated out of the way when not in use. If you want to mount the seat to a table who's top extends beyond the leg (thus pushing the user away from the leg and thus the mounting bracket) a separate mounting bar must be used to, in effect, extend the length of the seat's arm. This can be made of wood. Many vintage seats incorporated a rather wide mounting bracket to serve this purpose. We may offer a separate mounting bracket, in cast iron, for just this purpose.

The hardware used to mount the bracket to your bench will be up to the end user. Since there are a wide array of leg thicknesses, we can't anticipate everyone's needs. We recommend bolts to mount, but in some cases lag screws must be used. We'll have instructions and recommendations for this.

We will not be providing the actual wood seats, at least at the beginning. Like the rest of our bench hardware you'll be expected, as woodworkers, to fashion your own wood components.

If you've got any questions, feel free to ask away in the comments.

Etau/Hi Vise

We still haven't settled on a name for this either. We're about half way through our initial production run. We're still on target for an early fall release.

Planing Stop

We've jumped through some hoops to figure out how to make these reasonably and we think we're there. These are getting the black oxide treatment at the moment. Once they come back from that facility, we'll start machining in the teeth. Yeah, they are going to be two-tone and look really wicked.

Classic Workbench Plans

Hey, you can't rush genius. We're working on them.

Benchcrafted Autonomous Vehicle

We're not making much progress on this since we like to row our own. Since we're on the topic, anyone want to buy a mint, 7600 mile 2013 Honda Fit Sport with manual? Nobody drives sticks anymore...


  1. I love my stick!! Looking forward to the new offerings. Need to finish my "Moxton" vise with my BC Hardware.

  2. I might be interested if its blue!

  3. If the Benchcrafted Autonomous Vehicle could drive down to the lumber yard and pick me up a hundred board feet of lumber, I would pay a king's ransom for it. Instead, you'll continue to separate me from my money at a slow and leisurely pace... Can't wait for all these things.

  4. BlackLocustCraftsmenJune 13, 2016 at 7:40 PM

    Excellent, can't wait to not drag my dumpster found bar seat over to the tail vise to chop dovetails! Now I can save my back while pretending I'm sitting at salvaged industrial cafeteria seating from Urban Remains.

  5. I have read your articles here in Germany quite often but this is my first attempt to write a comment myself. So please excuse my english as this is not my maiden language:

    Your big Bench Seat looks quite interesting and I can well understand your thoughts about an adjustable height feature. But wouldn’t there be an alternative to an acme screw causing instability with its play about the threads?

    How about using inverted U-shaped mounting eyes instead of round mounting holes for the bolts or lag screws. This would provide a possibility to unhook the seat and hook it back on at a second or third set of bolts or screws at different heights? If this mounting method is well enough thought-out, it should even be possible to change the height without the need for tools?

    I would imagine three of those „vertical mounting eyes“ on either side of that vertical mounting bracket. With two vertical columns of five lag screws each on a sufficiently stable workbench-leg you would already get three different mounting heights for the seat.

  6. Exciting stuff, Jameel. Can't wait to pick up a bench seat!

    Contest for names, by the way? Just a thought.

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  8. Any thoughts on possible mounting options for a bench with slanting legs? Thinking the knockdown Moravian bench that I will be building at a class in late July at Roy's school.

    Any way I look at it I plan on ordering one when the come out but I haven't figured out how it would mount to that bench yet. Perhaps a wedge added to the outside of the right front leg to get it plumb if it would not interfere with the wedges.

    1. Yes, you'll have to add a wedge.

    2. Or, another thought is building another block similar to how the vice is attached but thinner in width and mounting there. Question I have there is if that method would be secure enough with the stub tenons to hold the weight of a person sitting at the seat.


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