Naked Workbenches
#8
  Re: (...)
Now that I have your attention...

Next week we are going to start a "Hand Tool School" 10-week class at the Kansas City Woodworkers' Guild. And about two weeks after that starts, we also start a "Beginning Woodworker" class -- the equivalent of Jr. High woodshop. So we were in need of MORE bench space to be able to run both simultaneously.

Mike Siemsen runs a woodworking school in Minnesota and a couple years ago put out a DVD called "The Naked Woodworker". Not as racy as it sounds. Essentially, it is a strategy for getting started on the cheap, focusing on hand tools and rehabbing vintage tools.

Anyway, we decided to build three of the benches he demonstrates in the video as an experiment. They are relatively inexpensive (we have maybe $90-$100 in lumber in each), very stout and easily modified. Since most people taking the Hand Tool School class are also beginners and don't have home shops, this gives them a way of building their own bench at home on the cheap. Most expensive non-wood component is a pair of holdfasts, the $35/pair ones from Gramercy fill the bill nicely but you can use whatever.

You could build these entirely with hand tools but we decided to do a blended build since the KCWG shop offers all we need. Furthermore, if our members decide to build their own, that's the most likely way they would fabricate parts for at home anyway.

Finally, we made the benches three different heights (35", 34" and 33") and made them double sided and reduced their length to 6' instead of a more standard 8'. Normally, you would only have one crochet and one set of apron holes. The shorter length is to accommodate squeezing in three extra benches. The vast majority of what one builds as a hobby can be done on a 6' bench.








Granted, these are ugly as sin but they do work very well. Part of the experiment was to build them as cheaply as possible, so we used the cheapest construction lumber we could get. Spend a few more bucks and be a bit more picky and they would be nicer looking.

A few intrepid members have started using the benches but we will have to have some education sessions because these benches don't have traditional mechanical vices for work holding. They rely on dog holes, fences, battons and holdfasts. You can hold just about anything but it does take a little more though. Maybe next weekend during the Lie-Nielsen Handtool Event at the KCWG shop (https://www.lie-nielsen.com/hand-tool-events) I'll get some pictures of how various pieces are held and worked on these benches. Also Mike Siemsen has a nice video on his YouTube channel that demonstrates most of the operations one would perform when going from rough stock to joinery using these benches.
Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things. -- G. Carlin
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#9
  Re: Naked Workbenches by Rob Young (Now that I have your...)
Still naked...

This past weekend was the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event (www.lie-nielsen.com) at the Kansas City Woodworkers' Guild. So I decided this would be a good time to demonstrate how this type of bench is used for holding your workpiece to perform the usual operations.

I did forget one photo, and that is working a long edge -- i.e. jointing. But it would be similar to this holding method using the crochet for re-sawing a board:



To re-saw I use the crochet to keep the board steady from the front, a pin in the apron to hold the bottom and a holdfast through the apron to squeeze it all together. Works very well. Just keep flipping the board face-for-face until you get down to the crochet. Then flip end-for-end and work down to where you stopped.

Instead of working at an angle, add a second pin and lay the board down and jam into the crochet. A holdfast can be added to hold steady. If the board is narrow or short, simply add a second board below to stack everything up above the edge of the bench.

Working on the surface of the bench to hold pieces for long-grain or cross grain, you can flip over the center strip so it rests 1/2" above the surface. A wider board can be accommodated by removing the strip and clamping it at each end on the far edge of the bench.



Or if sized appropriately, you can combine the planing stop and the "stick" like this:



Too wide or too narrow for either method above, add a "doe's foot" and a holdfast or clamp to hold like this:





If the board must be clamped down to the bench, you can use a hold fast or again remove the center stick and drop a clamp through the gap:



Similar to the setup for re-sawing, you can work on the end of a board for tenons too without using the crochet:





If a face vice is the best method to hold something, use a stout board, two pegs and two holdfasts (a slightly wider board would have been better but I just grabbed from the scrap bin) :



And if you want to move work a little closer to you for fine details (dovetails, carving, whatever) you can make accessories. Here is how to hold down a "Moxon vice" (or just use a couple of handscrew clamps in a similar manner) :





At this point I think the idea is clear, you use combinations of fences, edges, holdfasts, pegs and wedges to hold the work. It does mean you have to think ahead a bit and possibly make some fixtures. But pretty much, anything can be held. Add a few 8" or larger handscrew clamps and you can hold oddly shaped objects easily.

In summary, yes, it is a bit fiddly to work without a vice or vices. But it shouldn't stop you from working. For very small money, one can make a perfectly serviceable bench and get going. $150 (wood + holdfasts) vs $1500+ means beginners aren't going to be stymied by the cost, at least not for long. Oh, and FYI, if you want to join the KCWG and use the shop and its tools, $75/year.

Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things. -- G. Carlin
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#10
  Re: Naked Workbenches by Rob Young (Now that I have your...)
Nice job. Our club built 13 knock down French-ish style benches. It was a balancing act between making them heavy enough to be useful and light enough to be portable since we don't have our own shop. Ours were still on the light side and tend to slide around on the floor while planing. Yours are probably in the same weight class and I see you've got something under the feet. How do you address sliding on that linoleum floor?
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#11
  Re: Re: Naked Workbenches by Raven907 (Nice job. Our club ...)
Raven907 said:


Nice job. Our club built 13 knock down French-ish style benches. It was a balancing act between making them heavy enough to be useful and light enough to be portable since we don't have our own shop. Ours were still on the light side and tend to slide around on the floor while planing. Yours are probably in the same weight class and I see you've got something under the feet. How do you address sliding on that linoleum floor?




These are coming in around 200# each. The pads under the feet are some scraps of the uber-cheap carpet pad (molded foam?). Put the foam side down and the mesh side up.

We keep the floors lightly waxed mostly because glue pops off (people are a real mess in a shared shop). The down side is that unless a bench is REALLY heavy it does tend to move around. The carpet pads made a BIG difference.
Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things. -- G. Carlin
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#12
  Re: Naked Workbenches by Rob Young (Now that I have your...)
Nice to see an efficient bench built and used. The more I see of Mike's creations, the more I appreciate his contributions. Wish we had the facilities you folks enjoy! Thanks for the information...
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#13
  Re: Re: Naked Workbenches by Raven907 (Nice job. Our club ...)
I see Rob used carpet pad like you put under wall to wall carpet, which seems to be working. I use a square of the non slip pad that one puts under throw rugs to keep them in place. It looks like a heavy version of drawer liner. Sometimes all a person needs is an 8 foot 1 x 4, one end against the baseboard and the other against the leg of the bench. here is a link to one at Home Depot this is not an endorsement but just a place to see a picture of the stuff non slip rug pad
I also use the stuff in bigger pieces on top of my bench when working on things that are finished or ready to be finished so they don't get damaged.
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#14
  Re: Naked Workbenches by Rob Young (Now that I have your...)
So as part of the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event last weekend I was using the benches we just made, to test them and understand how to do all the basic operations. Rather than just randomly "do" things, I decided to make a small box. A little desk organizer. The wood I picked to use was Mansonia (spelling?). Sometimes called African Walnut due to the way it takes a finish and looks. As I understand things, primary used as flooring in this country. And I also learned it's dust is very high on the toxicity scale so probably not something I'll be using much in the future. None the less, good looking stuff with a finish.

Here's a little rough 4/4 getting resawn. I thought it was interesting that the sawdust (falling gently to the ground, not flung into an airborne cloud so that's a plus) looked like the dirt you shake out of a doormat. And to look at the lumber, it isn't very pretty. But it is hard and a bit brittle.




And with a little fussing about, here is the finished product with a coat of 1:1:1 BLO:Mineral SpiritsTongueoly to move the color a bit from a green cast to a more brown cast. And a topcoat of dark wax helps too (hides flaws!).




Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things. -- G. Carlin
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