Friday, July 31, 2009

The Benchcrafted Bench plans

We've been getting lots of requests for a full set of plans and construction notes for both our travel bench and our latest bench.

Apart from our own vises and a couple small details, this bench can be built using several sources, all of which are readily available, and in some cases, free.

If you're interested in building a version of our "split-top" bench, please follow along here as we outline the resources for building this bench, along with our own construction details over the next few blog posts.


1. Workbenches by Christopher Schwarz $34

If you're about to build a bench, this is the one book you shouldn't be without. It's the best book out there for designing and building benches, hands down. You don't necessarily need this book to build our bench, but it will help you decide on many aspects of your build.

2. Issue 8 of Woodworking Magazine $6 download

This issue features Schwarz's Holtzapffel workbench, which served as a basis for building the base of our own workbench. Chris has chosen very robust dimensions and construction methods for the undercarriage of his bench. Both vises on this bench simply bolt on, so it's easy to build the bench and disregard the vise elements of the plan. This bench features a 3" thick top, but we recommend a 4" top for easier installation of our vises, although tops less than 4" thick will work fine.

3. Holtzapffel bench extras. Free

Info and drawings about building a knockdown version of the base, plus other links to construction notes and info from a class Schwarz held on building the bench.

4. Travel bench blog posts. Free

Follow along as I built our travel bench. This is simply a smaller version of our latest bench with a couple small changes.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

Next we'll post construction details and dimensions for the 7' version of the bench.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Roubo Bench--For Sale

We've just completed a massive bench to display our vises at the Woodworking In America Conference in St. Charles, IL next month.

This bench will be used lightly over the course of the weekend, and Sunday afternoon when the conference ends, the bench will be available for pick up (or possible local delivery--drop us an email if you're interested).

The top sections, base and shelf are of soft maple. The top measures 7' 3" long x 24" wide and is 4" thick. The height is 35". The top joins to the base on 1" tenons at the top of each leg, plus 4 Spaz

The bench is outfitted with both our Glide Leg Vise and Benchcrafted Tail Vise.

The Glide features a hard maple chop that is over 2-1/2" thick. The vise chop is 9" wide and opens to a maximum capacity of 9".

The Benchcrafted Tail Vise is installed for maximum capacity of 11-1/4" between the jaws. Maximum holding capacity between dogs is 75". All vise jaws and dog faces are lined with perforated suede leather for fantastic grip.

The 3-1/2" x 5-1/2" base legs are drawbored mortise and tenon to the short stretchers and complete the base with two long rails through knockdown fasteners: 1/2" bolts and 1"dia. custom steel barrel nuts.

The shelf in the base is 21" x 49" ship lapped curly maple.

The sliding deadman/board jack is hard maple and is outfitted with a Veritas Surface Clamp. The right leg and tops are drilled for Gramercy holdfasts (two included) or other accessories that fit 3/4" holes.

The bench weighs 285 lbs.

The gap between the tops is wide enough to accomodate a K-Body clamp. The bench features an accessory strip that fits between the tops that can serve multiple functions. In it's flush position (below) it seals the gap and prevents all but small tools from falling through. The slot in the strip can be used for storing tools (see below).

Flip the strip over and it protrudes above the bench about 1/2", serving as a planing stop or sawing stop when slid to one end of the bench. The strip simply rests on the top rails of the base in both configurations and can be removed instantly if desired.

If you're interested in purchasing this bench at the WIA show in Chicago, please drop us a line. The price is $3195.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thread Inserts for The Glide

We've sourced some excellent thread inserts for installing The Glide in softwoods. Threading woods such as Southern Yellow Pine or Douglas Fir does not provide enough strength for the machine screws that hold the roller guides to the bench.

We've tested these inserts in Yellow pine with a roller bracket and the strength is impressive. We couldn't get the insert to budge.

To use the insert, mark the holes for the screws using the templates and drill the pilot hole for the insert. The manufacturer recommends 31/64", but we went ahead and tested them with a 1/2" pilot hole, since most will already have this bit. It worked fine. Just drill accurately and smoothly. You don't want to make the hole any larger than 1/2". If you have a 31/64" bit, use it.

The insert can be driven home with 10mm hex drive tool. Dig around your Allen wrench stash and chances are you already have one.

And here's the good news. The inserts are free. If you're purchasing a Glide intended for a softwood bench, just request the inserts and we'll include them with your vise. You can also use these in hardwood if you'd rather not hassle with tapping. If you've already purchased a Glide intended for softwood, drop us a line and we'll send you some inserts.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Installing the Glide in Softwood Benches

A customer recently wrote us about installing the Glide Leg Vise in a bench made of Southern Yellow Pine (SYP). This material is a common bench wood in the South, and a popular choice because of its low cost. It makes a fine bench, but there is an issue with mounting the roller brackets with the included machine screws, since SYP does not have sufficient holding power when tapping the wood for machine screws. Woods such as ash and maple have no problem with this, but the SYP does not have the shear strength to maintain the integrity of the 3/8-16 threads. Douglas fir is also a popular softwood used for benches, and suffers from the same weakness as SYP in this regard. You can strip out the threads if you overtighten the screw. The fix is to reinforce the SYP (or other softwood) with metal thread inserts, providing the machine screws with a better grip. We're sourcing appropriate inserts for this application, and will have them available in the next week or so.