Marcel K. - Auckland, New Zealand - Workbench Idea
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I can't believe it took me this long to build it but I finally finished my workbench.
Not sure whether it meets the standard of the other awesome workbenches in your blog but I thought I'd fire some pictures and text (below) through to at least show that the vise has eventually been put to use.
And of course let you know my appreciation of your vise screws.
Marcel K. – Auckland, New Zealand
When I first saw Will Myer's WKFineTools article on the portable Moravian design I knew it was a perfect choice for the tight confines of my garage. Basically I wanted something that was solid/heavy yet not too big and could still be relatively easily moved when needed.
The only thing I wanted to change was the tool tray as I preferred having extra bench space so to SketchUp I went and started working on modifying the design to incorporate the Roubo split top idea. After a year of pondering (while building my tool chest) an article appeared on the Lake Erie blog about a great compact version of a “Split Top Moravian” from Ron G in Florida which confirmed my ideas.
While finishing my tool chest I bought Will Myer's fantastic DVD (“Building the Portable Moravian Workbench”) and watched it repeatedly while acquiring the lumber and letting it dry a bit. After purchasing the Lake Erie Toolworks vise screw I set to work in December last year.
Yes it took me about 10 months of working off and on to complete!
I did nearly all of it by hand (rough-sawn stock dimensioning, joinery etc) and only submitted to power at the end to cut the back slab to final width using a circular saw. By then I thought I'd had enough hand sawing practice!
The bench is all white ash apart from the maple Lake Erie vise screw. Even the various dowels were formed from scrap Ash used during the build (hardwood dowel is hard to come by in New Zealand). I went with a Veritas inset vise for the end vise due to its compactness since the design doesn't have much space at the bench ends to add a vise.
The inset vise works but during the bench build process I frequently used the notched batten method (“Doe's foot”) to hold boards while planing on a make shift bench and it worked so well I've since been wondering whether I even need an end vise. The things you learn...
The overall length and width of the bench matches Will's plans (76" x 24”). The top slabs are asymmetrical with the front one about 12.75” wide and the back about 9.5” separated by a 1.75” slotted gap stop. This means that I have the option of building a tool tray like the original plans if I want in the future. It also means that with the gap stop in the raised position I can comfortably hand plane a 12” or so wide board against the stop.
The thickness of the top is 4.25” which is thicker than the original plans (3.5”) and the legs and stretchers are also a bit thicker than the plans so the bench is certainly heavy when assembled. I haven't weighed it but the front slab alone is at least 40kgs (about 90lbs) so while the bench is technically portable you wouldn't want to move the front slab too far by yourself!
The bench and vise are finished with Organoil's Danish oil which is one of my favourite finishes. A straight oil finish that's easy to apply and doesn't leave a varnish/film finish and smells pine fresh which is a bonus :-). The top still has a bit of friction which is great when working on it.
There are still a few details to finish off including boring some more hold-fast holes, adding some cork or leather to the leg vise jaw and adding a loose tongue and groove lower shelf but the bench is up and running and the leg vise works awesome. I was expecting a fair bit of initial “squeakiness” before wearing it in but the Danish oil and paste wax on the screw threads have it running smoothly already.
Apologies for the quality of the pictures but they give you an idea of how small my workspace is. Basically the workbench and my tool chest sit on some rubber mats about 8'x8' in size and that's my entire workspace. Also shown in the pictures is the gap stop in the raised position and the vise screw. If a project I'm working on needs more space I can temporarily move the car out of the garage, partially disassemble the bench tops, rotate it 90º and reassemble to give me extra room on both sides of the bench.
This project was a fun challenge and while there's a few mistakes, it was a great learning exercise for a novice like me. Perhaps the biggest lesson learned though is that next time I should consider buying a portable thicknesser! Jointing 20+ large lengths of timber by hand is enjoyable, thicknessing them not so much :-)
Big thanks to Lake Erie for making such wonderful vise screws. When it arrived I wasn't sure whether to use it or put it on the shelf as a work of art it looked so amazing.
Big thanks as well to Will Myers (and Joshua Farnsworth) for creating the workbench DVD which I highly recommend and also to Will for taking time to answer some queries I had on the design.
How does Workbench Ideas work?
The Workbench Ideas feature is very straightforward. If you've built a workbench and used a Lake Erie wooden vise in its construction, we would ask you to submit some pictures and a brief write up so that we can give other woodworkers great ideas to help them build their own workbench. Also, we've expanded this feature to include demonstrated uses and applications for our Wooden Vise Kits as well as our Moxon Vises as well. So, if you've purchased any Wooden Vise Kit or Moxon Vise from us, and can share some pictures of the vise in use and a brief write up on how you are using the Vise, submit that to us as well.
In return for your workbench or Moxon Idea submission, we will send you a Lake Erie Toolworks logo T-Shirt as a thank you for sharing your idea with woodworkers around the world.
We trust that everyone will enjoy this feature and encourage you to submit your ideas when you have completed your workbench or Moxon Vise efforts.
Workbench Ideas - Rules:
To date, we've had over 5 years worth of workbench ideas representing 60+ benches and Vise applications that have been submitted from customers around the globe.
What are the key benefits here:
- Opportunity to show your tremendous workbench or Vise application to a global audience
- Help generate workbench and Vise application ideas for other woodworkers
- Pick up a Lake Erie Toolworks logo T-Shirt for free
How do you get in the game? Just drop us a line at this email address with the following information:
- Full Name
- Full Mailing Address (City, State/Province, Zip/Postal Code, Country if International)
- 2 or more pictures of your workbench or Vise application (Please show the vise also - JPEG Images preferred)
- Details regarding your bench or VIse application (Type of bench, wood used, finish, build details, application specifics, etc.)
- Comments (Anything you'd like to share with your global audience)
We will then feature an ongoing series of workbenches and Vise applications from all submissions provided.
So what are you waiting for? Snap some pictures of that masterpiece and send in a little write-up today. It's time to show the world the amazing woodworking that you're capable of.
Note: We will only display your first name and last name initial to provide credit to you for your pictures & information provided as well as to protect your privacy. We may also use your workbench and Vise pictures for product installation, training and promotional purposes.