Saturday, December 3, 2011

Immobilize Your Bench With Suede

This week FJ and I worked a bit on the Jefferson bookcases. The lower cases have been glued up, and we both took to trimming the many end grain tails and pins flush with the case sides. This is demanding work. We placed the cases on sawbenches, then shoved those up against the front of our two Roubo benches, planing in towards the front of the bench, directly across the ends of the cases. A bench has to either be very heavy (around 400 pounds) to resist this action without moving across the shop floor, or up against a wall or other immovable object. The second Roubo we have in the shop is a short bench, only 18" wide. It's made of massive elements, and is heavy. But not heavy enough for this type of work. The bench was inching its way across our wood floor (which is not slick) on every stroke.

So FJ suggested placing a rectangle of suede under each leg. In about 3 minutes I grabbed some suede offcuts and cut four 3x5 rectangles, then slipped them under each leg. I leaned into the bench from both the front and the end. Nothing. No movement. And I wasn't just leaning my 250-pound fat layered body into the bench, I was pushing with my legs too. The thing was rock solid.

One trick I've used in the shop before was to tack a beefy nail behind the legs of the bench to keep it still, but that's a pain, especially when you move the bench and forget the nail sticking up out of the floor. Ouch.

But now that we've learned the suede trick I won't be using the nails anymore. I debated about gluing the suede to the bottom of the legs, but sometimes you want the bench to slide across the floor. The suede would get torn up pretty rapidly if it was glued on. So I'm leaving the suede unattached.

If you have a problem of a slippery bench, you should really try this.

If you need some suede, we will be offering rather goodly-sized offcuts in the coming weeks on the Benchcrafted website.


  1. Nice. Interesting mini-Roubo, too. Flatsawn? Single piece? And do you think you have enough drill presses in the back there? :)

  2. I had a similar problem recently while working on a Gragg chair replica. The edges and surfaces of the chair have to be tooled after assembly, and the chair is such a flyweight is was just bouncing around. One-handed spokeshaving is fairly difficult. I slipped a small square of non-skid drawer liner under each leg and tossed a large sandbag on the seat, and believe me it stayed put.

    A method I also use to increase bench weight (I use several 70's era German benches, and they are not hefty enough to fully resist my Jameel-esque physique either)so I just use the under-structure as lumber storage. Adding another few hundred pounds on the trestles makes a difference.

    Don Williams

  3. I may put some suede on the bottom of my shoes...:) I have a two part epoxy paint on my concrete floor of the studio/workshop. It's beautiful for rolling around camera equipment (my main business) but very slippery with a bit of dust on it when I'm doing woodwork.

  4. Charlton, That Roubo is made from a single piece (n/i dog strip) of 12/4 Ash. Makes it quick, that's for sure. What? Don't you have three drills for you three favorite bits?


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