Thursday, April 9, 2009

Travel Bench Part 8

Can't really hold a 6' board vertically, so I had to come up with a quick and easy way of cutting the tails for the front laminate. An angled sliding fence was the answer.

To cut the other angle I just moved the jig's stop block to the other end of the fence.

I cut the shoulders on a table saw crosscut sled and finished up with a backsaw.

I rabbeted the tails so I had a nice shoulder for laying out the pins. I used a router with offset base for this.

I clamped the front laminate into position and checked the width of the slot for parallel.

Then marked the end cap to length.

After cutting the end cap to length clamped a scrap the same thickness as the tails between the dog hole strip and the front laminate and positioned everything for marking the pins.

I scribed lightly all around the tails.

I routed out most of the waste.

Then pared the rest.

The fit was decent, but I did have to glue in some thin wedges at the end grain to make it cosmetically attractive.

I laid out the end template on the end cap and marked the center points for the flange screws and clearance hole for the vise screw.

I drilled them out on the drill press.

I mount the screw to the end cap with regular nuts (not the nylon lock nuts that are provided with the vise) for quick removal, and check the rough alignment. I also make sure the sliding plate assembly completely clears the cavity its entire length. Looks good. At this point I removed the end cap and glued the front portion of the tenon, then reinstalled the end cap permanently with lock nuts. I then glued the front laminate in place, gluing the dovetails to the end cap.

Once the top is completely assembled I begin the vise installation. I lay the rails on the bench bottom and check for a little side-to-side play in the plate. I don't want it to bind. I then mark the location of the rails with a sharp pencil. I like to position the rails so the first screw falls in the end cap. This makes for a strong connection. The first screw in the front rail also falls in the dovetail, further locking this joint together.

This is the left hand vise.

I route the mortises for the guide rails. My top is right at 4", so the mortise is 1/4" deep.

I remount the screw and test the action. It's smooth. Sometimes the guides are out of parallel in the horizontal plane if the router didn't cut a consistent depth, or dust or chips get trapped. Cleaning out the mortise is the solution, or adding some thin paper shims.

With the plate about half way down the cavity, I can lift up and slide out the guide rails without having to remove the screw.

Once everything looks good I marked for pilot holes with a center punch directly through the guide rails, then mounted the vise.

The tops are virtually complete.


  1. Jameel,
    You mention when routing the slots for the rails that because your bench is exactly 4" thick you will rout the slot at 1/4" deep. Should the depth of the slots vary in relation to the thickness of the bench?

  2. Yes of course. The templates are sized for a 4" top, but if your top is thicker or thinner you will need to compensate. Don't shift the relationship between the rail placement and the holes for the screw and flange. These must remain the same. Just register the template off the top of your bench and you'll be fine. If your top ends up being less than 3-3/4" you'll have to add some material between the rails and the bottom of the bench. If your bench is over 4" thick, your mortise will be deeper. In other words, the rails are always a fixed distance from the top surface, regardless of top thickness. If you need further help, please drop me an email.

  3. ANy chance of plans for your amazing travel bench For those of us with restricted space it looks ideal. Thanks, G


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