Perhaps you could help me decide on a few things for the making of a new bench.
I admire Paul and his experience and (being English perhaps) am used to seeing vises standing proud of benches.
However, I do like using holdfasts and recently found The naked woodworkers work holding video. The advantages I see to that bench are the versatility of the dog holes using the Crochet and holdfasts and I really like the height adjustable, removable bit of wood down the middle for planing against.
So I have been trying to merge the various bits of the benches, where I end up with the double topped Paul Sellers bench without the well but with the planing strip.
A flush vise could then be used instead of a crochet. However, if the vise is flush you lose the ability to handle your piece (Fnarr!).
It was then that I had my Eureka moment and thought that I could surely cut a crochet to hold in the vise.
I’ve never encountered a situation where I wished I could get my fingers behind the piece in my flush vise. I’m sure there are such situations, and Paul has no doubt encountered plenty of them in daily work for 50 years, but it hasn’t been an issue for me.
I also do a hybrid of Mike Siemsen’s workholding with a somewhat PS-inspired bench, tons of dog holes everywhere and a flush QR steel vise. Because I’m inexperienced, I frequently need / want to examine the progress I’m making, so having the work “free” (where it’s butted up against stops, as opposed to clamped in a vise or by holdfasts) is my default condition, because it reduces the time penalty to conduct such examinations (the Renaissance Woodworker did a great video recently on this exact topic), so you’ll conduct them as frequently as needed, which leads to better results, or so the theory goes.
I thought about making a crochet to hold in the vise, but then decided that I wanted a dedicated crochet, so I just made one on the opposite side of my bench. If your bench is up against a wall, that’s obviously not an option.
I kept the well, but that may have been a sub-optimal choice…wells are highly addictive, and the ease of just leaving tools in the well may have made me a lazier woodworker. When I’m deep into any project, my cabinets are looking bare and the well is full, and then I have to hunt around for tools in the grab-bag of my well. Also, you can have both a well and the center strip. My center strip is much like Mike’s, it has cutouts to keep it in place once it’s offset from it’s home, and allow it to be set at a few different heights. I have two such strips, one along each side of the well.
Workholding is just a system which makes sense to you, and how you work best. I like to maintain what little concentration I can muster, so I prefer not to break away to replace / access tools in cabinets or drawers (hence the well) or muck around with workholding (hence the preference for simple stops). That’s also why I made my bench as large as I could…so I can have a couple of things going on at the same time, without having to re-dedicate the bench for each task. That way my flow keeps flowing…the downside of that is sometimes I’ll be flowing in the wrong direction, and without any interruption to make me think about the current context, I’ll amplify a small mistake into a large one.
When you say “cut a crochet to hold in the vise” do you mean as an adjustable bench-stop/dog? You can add a retractable vertical brass strip as a dog, behind the front jaw-liner, with peg(s) at the far end. Paul’s demonstrated making both.
There are so many solutions; crotchet shapes, triangular wedges, retractable stops (Record), holdfasts, bench-dogs, clamps… Decide as you go.
If your vice isn’t flush and your fingers fit behind the piece, your fingers will go there. Otherwise you’ll adapt to whatever you have.
Paul tends to avoid holdfasts & bench-dogs and seldom uses his tail-vice.
I wonder whether his preferring a clamp-in-the-vice or clamp-to-the-apron has more to do with the ‘minimalist’ ethos rather than ease-of-use?
I don’t see how Rob Cossman tolerates his vice sticking in his stomach while he leans over it. Awkward to see what you’re doing, I’d have thought.
Personally, I would go with Paul’s tried ‘n’ trusted proven design first, then add ‘bells & whistles’ as you feel you have a need for them. You can always modify your bench after you’ve used it for a while.
Ed, your bench sounds interesting, have you got any pics? I don’t currently have a tool well and can do without it I reckon.
Alan, my current bench is fairly standard, like an English bench already. I understand what you mean about the dog, my 9” eclipse has one. I really meant to cut a piece of wood as attached (I must get a stylus for my fruit based device)
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