28 May 2017 at 1:44 pm #312380
I am starting to mentally work through a work bench build in the near future. I am probably going to stick closely to Paul’s bench design, but I can’t find anywhere what the purpose of the bench apron is? Vises can be attached without them, and because of the type of vise Paul uses (and me too) which stands out from the bench top slightly, using holdfasts on the apron to hold work is not possible like benches with flush mounted vises.
So, does anyone have a good reason to put the apron in? It looks better, certainly, but I’m sure Paul doesn’t include it purely for cosmetic reasons. If anyone knows of a video where he talked about it, or has any advice please let me know.
Hoyt28 May 2017 at 1:57 pm #312381Jason WickershamParticipant
Just spit-balling here, but I thought he mentioned in the video that it added rigidity to bench?28 May 2017 at 2:44 pm #312384
Yeah I’m looking over the youtube videos again, and based on the construction of it I think your right.
I have seen other bench styles that use an apron, with different types of vises, and use it with holdfasts. I am considering adding some shelves/drawers to my bench similar to the Sjoberg benches, or even Paul’s, and would like the option to use holdfasts too (now I am constantly clamping boards down to the bench top). If I had a lateral support at the same height I’m thinking I could eliminate the apron. Still thinking things through though.
Thank you for posting back.
Hoyt28 May 2017 at 4:23 pm #312385
They add a good deal of stiffness, and in Nicholson-style benches, aprons are used to aid in workholding.28 May 2017 at 4:44 pm #312386
In his Book he states that it is indeed for rigiditiy.
Personally i would absolutely not include an apron, main reason for being is if you have big or oddly shaped Workpieces that you cant clamp them to the benchtop.
Being able to clamp Pieces to the edge of the Bench has come in handy so many times i lost count, keep in mind im a professional not a hobbyist though.
Another thing i can highly recommend you take a look at is a Shouldervise, they just work, no need
for any fiddling around with spacers like on ordinary front vises so that they close evenly. And you can in theory clamp boards/pieces as high as your room is in them, they hold things just more securely when working on the edge of the board, imo.
Granted i cant say how they compare to the Metal Vises like Paul uses i have never worked with one of those.28 May 2017 at 5:20 pm #312387
The variety of workholding available is kind of amazing. I wonder if it’s because there are so many ways of thinking about problems, so different ways of tackling problems has led to different solutions. If you’re a Problem Solver of Type 3, then that kind of workholding makes sense to you, if you’re Type 2, then you’ll understand this other style
@kamikazekrieger — when you can “can’t be clamped to the benchtop” — you only mean you can’t get the lower jaw of a clamp under the front edge of the bench, because the apron would prevent it, correct?
I’m just a novice, and I have never clamped under the front edge of my bench yet, and I’m trying to imagine why I would want to. You’ve been through many more projects than I ever will — in what scenarios would I need that? If it happens quite a bit, maybe I’m doing something wrong, since the need has never occurred to me, and it certainly seems like useful information when evaluating the pros and cons of including an apron.28 May 2017 at 5:39 pm #312389
Hi Ed, yes exactly you cant really get the jaw in.
As for uses dovetailing, glueups, layout, assembly and im sure theres more. Personally i just like to clamp my pieces down when dovetailing and since we dont have holdfasts at work a clamp does the job just fine, or during glueup for example small drawers it can get a bit tricky to get the clamps on right its sometimes just easier to put the drawer on its side on the benchtop throw a piece of MDF or somethin ontop and clamp it down that way.
If you have larger pieces just clamp it down and dont worry if someone knocks into it or if you’re drilling, cutting whatever.
Just to name a few things, im sure a Holdfast will work for some of them fine too they are just rare to non existant here and i like the flexibility the clamps give me.29 May 2017 at 1:37 am #312400
Thank you all for the info.
I imagine that if there is an apron on the bench then a series of dog holes and a holdfast would solve the problem of clamping to the bench when there is a long apron, also using a longer clamp. I too have often clamped to the bench while chopping dovetails especially, but this is only because I don’t have dog holes and a holdfast.
Ed mentioned the incredible variety of ways to hold stuff down, and there is no doubt about that.
Hoyt29 May 2017 at 4:34 pm #312411
@kamikazekrieger — it just occurred to me…if you had an apron vs a normal bench top on the front of your bench, couldn’t you still clamp to it? An apron is no different that a normal bench top except that it’s taller, so perhaps you couldn’t use your small clamps.
Or am I missing something?29 May 2017 at 4:45 pm #312412
technically you can clamp it sure, but you are forced to put the clamp right on the apron on thus right on the edge of the bench. Without an apron you can slide the clamp in further and have a little bit more wiggle room so to speak, also you can use shorter clamps which are in my opinion just more convenient the the big ones.
If you use a holdfast then it doesnt really matter though.30 May 2017 at 5:01 am #312419CraigParticipant
Could you please post a photo or two of the bench you’re working on.
SW Pennsylvania30 May 2017 at 4:53 pm #312430
Apologies for the quality, but heres the one i got at work, just your standard Workbench with a Toolbox built into it.
And my old beast at home, i have since cleaned it up abit and moved it to the basement shop, also a bit bigger at ~ 2250mm x 650mm not counting the vises and toolwell.
Apart from the size this is the typical Austrian/German Traditional Workbench, alot of them, as does this one, still have all wooden vises.
Dont fix whats not broke, they just work, and since theres still so many of them around id stay they last too.30 May 2017 at 6:47 pm #312435
Love the home bench — that’s a classic old monster! 🙂30 May 2017 at 11:02 pm #312436CraigParticipant
Thank you for posting those. That’s what I envisioned when you mentioned the shoulder vise.
Probably beyond a beginners capability as a first bench.
They’re lovely thou.
SW Pennsylvania31 May 2017 at 7:30 am #312440jasonwbParticipant
The apron is very important. The ‘claim to fame’ of the apron is absolutely no racking. My work bench, Paul’s design, doesn’t move at all, not even the slightest. Paul is quite successful in clamping anything he is working on to the bench. We can choose to follow anybody out there. I choose to follow Paul. It works. Simple
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