Bench modifications

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  • #19996
    George Bridgeman
    Participant

    Has anyone made any modifications to their bench, perhaps based on Paul’s videos or things you’ve seen elsewhere?

    I don’t have a lot of shop space so I’m going to make use of the space under my bench by putting a plywood base between the two lower cross rails on the trestles, then plywood sides and back. I’m planning to put infrequently used tools, timber, and other odds and ends there to give the bench a bit more mass and help prevent it moving.

    Following what I saw while on the course, I’m also thinking about putting some drawers at one end between the two aprons, perhaps with a divider in the middle so the drawers aren’t the full width (about 21″). I may put a shelf at the other end as well.

    Has anyone done something like this before? Any other interesting modifications people have done?

    George.

    "To know and not do is to not know"

    #20014
    STEVE MASSIE
    Participant

    I haven’t yet as I just finished my Bench this past weekend. I will say even though it is only 59 1/2″ long X app 22″ wide and 39 1/2″ high it is rock solid. I did make an opp’s on one of the housing dado’s for the legs, I had to add a 1/2″ board to the bottom of the leg to level it off, bummer. I also put a piece of shelf liner on the inside face of my Record 52 1/2″ vice for additional gripping power, and yes it works fine.

    I want to add a couple drawers and possibly a L shelf on the back side and of course I will add Dog holds for my holdfast’s this weekend.

    Steve

    PS: I do like the extra height, playing around with it some I find no more stooping which with a bad back is nice. I am 5′ 10 1/2″ tall and so far very comfortable.

    Steve Massie, I live in the great State of Florida, US

    #20024
    Martin McColl
    Participant

    George,

    I too do not have a lot of shop space and so have started laying my useful timber pieces on a scrap piece of ¾” MDF placed on top of the lower cross rails. I have noticed the resulting pile adds a considerable amount of mass to the bench that I am sure you will also find beneficial.

    Thanks for posting the bench modification pictures BTW (glad you enjoyed the nine day experience). I am particularly interested in putting some drawers at either end of my bench. Herein lays the problem though. In using my bench I have found it very useful to clamp work pieces to the bench top at the left hand end, and have plans to install an old 7” Record vise on the right hand end. Both of these practices/intentions will prohibit full complement of drawers being installed. So I am now leaning towards putting a shelf halfway down from the bench top, between the aprons with a drawer underneath, in that way still allowing clamping access to the bench top.

    How did you find working on the benches that incorporated the modifications? Were some more useful than others?

    I am looking forward to the drawer making details in the current tool box build to help complete this project.
    Martin.

    Martin ... Tucson, Arizona, USA.

    #20026
    George Bridgeman
    Participant

    Congrats on finishing your bench, Steve. Now the real fun begins!

    Martin, I’ve had timber between the cross rails before and it has helped but I now prefer to keep it upright leaning against a wall as I had problems with the wood moving. I used stickers but that reduced stability and I ended up with timber falling on my feet!

    Most of the student benches had a drawer in the apron that left both ends of the bench free for shelves, so you could still use a clamp or install a vise. I’ll dig up the photos I took detailing how the drawer and it’s runners were fitted but it’s mainly plywood, blocks and screws.

    The holes in the tool well to accommodate gauges was a simple but useful tweak. The end-shelf and drawer were useful, especially in the context of a student bench where all the tools you need for the course have a home in arms reach. I think it would work well for storing everyday tools.

    I’m also looking forward to the drawer making. Paul went over half-blind dovetails in the course and it’s much more straightforward than I anticipated. I haven’t tried chopping any yet though. Still practicing through dovetails making more boxes!

    George.

    "To know and not do is to not know"

    #20059

    George I started making two drawers to fit into the end of my bench today. I have cut and sized the timber (pine) and cut my first dovetails on one of them. They are the first ones I have done since my weekend course with Paul. They are far from perfect but work ok and are quite tight. because the drawers are made of pine I’m not certain what sort of runners to use as I’m told Pine doesn’t run so smoothly on pine. I’m only using two drawers with a shelf attached to the bottom of the aprons to store my sharpening plates. I’ll post some pictures when I’ve built them.

    #20062
    Greg Merritt
    Participant

    I added a drawer and shelf to my bench several months ago and all is working well so far. The drawer is pine and is on hardwood runners, birch I think. If it wears down the drawer will be a little loose. If it gets so loose that it bothers me I’ll make new runners, or just move the originals up a little. If you are really worried about the wear, just add a strip of hardwood to the bottom of the drawer sides. Hope all goes well with your project.

    http://hillbillydaiku.com

    #20093
    David Gill
    Participant

    Space in my workshop is at a premium and I would struggle to find room for a tool chest anywhere other than under my work bench.Having it under my bench gives me the ideal creative work space. I can reach the vast majority of my most used tools without moving from the bench.
    Every tool has an allocated space in the tool chest, I find it very satisfying when finishing for the day to put all the tools back in their proper place and close up the cabinet. If I was to do it again I think I could have made the cabinet a bit longer. Some of the tools that do not fit in the cabinet are kept on top of it.

    Wigan, Lancs. England :

    #20096
    Ken
    Participant

    Mmm you guys have me thinking now. I like your under the bench tool chest David, nice job. Greg nice use of space, I do like the draw Idea.

    Nice thread, good job guys

    #20121
    George Bridgeman
    Participant

    Greg, that’s very similar to what Paul has on his bench. Nice upgrades! How wide is the drawer?

    David, that’s similar to what I have planned for my bench, although I’m not sure I’ll put doors on the front. Did you put a stretcher between the crossrails that the ply sits on?

    I’ve cleared my bench, taken everything out from underneath, and removed the vise so I can make some upgrades this weekend. I also need to remove a slight cup across the width of the bench top, which will mean re-finishing it as well. First time I’ve had to re-flatten it so far and it’s just over a year old. If I get time, I’m also going to see if I can remove the tool well and adjust it so it’s sturdy but can be removed easily if I need to clamp something like a planing stop to the other side of the bench.

    George.

    "To know and not do is to not know"

    #20124
    Greg Merritt
    Participant

    Ken…thanks.
    David…nice cabinet. Well done.
    George…the drawer is approx. 21″(W) x 3″(H) x 9″(D). I had posted about it a few months ago after I had seen Paul at the Woodworking Show in Columbus, OH.

    http://hillbillydaiku.com

    #20134
    David Gill
    Participant

    George
    There is no additional stretcher it sits on the two side and end rails, my bench is a little different to Paul’s bench, I had made mine prior to Paul’s blog.I have a removable tool well in the middle of the bench which I do remove at times to enable the clamping of work down to my bench top.

    I have doors on my cabinet for added security and also gives better protection to the tools from dampness I think.

    Wigan, Lancs. England :

    #20204
    George Bridgeman
    Participant

    Had a busy weekend but managed to get some time in the shop. Put a stretcher between the trestles to provide additional support for a bottom shelf made from 18mm ply. Also boxed in the back and sides with 9mm ply. I flattened the bench top, planed the front apron to remove the old finish and square the vise area with the top, then started putting on the new finish. Using water based satin finish poly. It’s the same hard wearing stuff I used on the shop floor.

    I also had to level one of the legs, and put the whole bench on some more 18mm ply. The floor is only 19mm spruce, which has a fair bit of give. Great for my feet and back when working at the bench but it flexes when sawing or planing. The ply has firmed it up some more.

    Still got a couple more coats of finish to put on, then I’ll get the vise back in and start making drawers for the end.

    A few photos attached.

    "To know and not do is to not know"

    #20219
    NikonD80
    Participant

    That’s looking really great George. Makes me want to get a move on with my bench.

    Keep Calm and have a Cup of Tea

    #20339
    STEVE MASSIE
    Participant

    George your bench is looking great. Greg thanks for sharing your drawer picture this what I plane to do to mine as well. I am also going to add some holdfast holes. I am going to leave the bottom open for the time being unless I feel I need to add weight to the bench.

    Steve

    Steve Massie, I live in the great State of Florida, US

    #21385
    George Bridgeman
    Participant

    Been managing to get a few stints in the shop here and there so have completed one drawer. I want to put another one below this one at some point soon, then another plywood shelf beneath that to hold my sharpening stones.

    I’ve picked up a Veritas planing stop and a couple of holdfasts so now planning dog hole positions. I’m going to put two holes for the planing stop pretty much where the benchtop sits over the leg, although these won’t be the whole way through the top. It’s an awkward location because I can’t go through the top where I’d like to because of the vise and the drawer. This shouldn’t be a problem as the planing stop only needs 1.5″ deep holes – I’ll just have to hoover dust or shavings out as they accumulate. I’ll put a few holes along the back of the bench top, and maybe a few toward the front later if I need them. It’s all so I can use a batten to hold thin boards against the planing stop.

    George.

    "To know and not do is to not know"

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