I’m just starting out with wood working, and trying to keep costs to an absolute minimum at the moment. My work bench is and old kitchen top in my garage, but I’m struggling with a way to clamp down the wood I’m practicing on. I notice that in all the videos I see people use dedicated wood working benches, with wood clamps being an integral part of the bench, which I obviously don’t have.
Can anyone suggest a cheap way for me to effectively clamp wood onto my work top, and still have access to it to plane it etc… e.g. I have a record number 50 plane with fence, so I’d need to have enough clearance for the fence, without it hitting any clamps.
Welcome to the wonderful world of amateur woodworking. 🙂
A couple of years ago I faced the same dilemma. After some searching on YouTube I discovered where someone had built a portable workbench that could be clamped to a table. So I purchased a $20 small vice from Lowe’s, attached it to the portable workbench I built (2x4s and plywood). The portable workbench was only 2 feet x 4 feet on top with a depth of about 5 inches. Did it move a lot? Yes, but worked well enough to give me initial confidence that I could learn and do. I then built my current bench following Paul’s garden bench videos. Hopefully this helps.
And don’t forget, what Paul has said for many years; ‘You can do it.’
I made a plane stop something like a shooting board but without the step down. It’s just a sheet of melamine Probably 24/30 ” long) and at the end I have a piece of ply screwed down, just 6mm thick so you can plane thin sections (I like making boxes). At the other end on the bottom I have a thicker piece of wood to act as a stop up against the bench edge, essentially the whole thing looks like a large bench hook.
With regards to holding other pieces maybe look around for a secondhand Black & Decker Jobber, it’s not as good as a vice but you can do a great deal with it still and it has holes in the bottom to screw it down to your worktop. You can pick them up very cheaply.
I’ve been in your shoes, and had subjected myself to years of frustration, before discovering “Paul”. I’m still a “beginner” and the following has some opinionated comments, so ignore the rest if so inclined.
The 9″ eclipse following Paul’s advice has been the best purchase I’ve ever made for my tiny workspace — being stingy when it comes to tools purchase, I struggled for years with improvised plane stops, a small metal workers vice picked from scraps, awkward clamping of stock etc., and regret not fitting a good vice to start with. Having a solid workbench (which can be made cheap from construction-grade softwood) with a solid vice is the best place to spend money and effort when it comes to hand tools woodworking.
An old workmate still costs some money and I’ve never seen holdfasts cheap enough to justify, so I would strongly suggest to get a vice like the one Paul uses. Instead of the 9″ one, may be you could go for a 7″ one depending on the kind of projects you want to get into.
That said, I did make several things, though in a very frustrating way, using a small top mount vice picked up for $10, a few clamps, a cheap #4 that never worked well, a couple of chisels and a cheap saw. A sturdy workbench from spruce 2x4s was my first project, though.
I suppose record 050 is similar to Stanley 45. If so, holding small stock and have the fence clear always involves jugglery, at least for me. For pieces wider than ~2″, but thin to clamp directly in the vice, Paul’s “clamp in the vice” works well. But you need a vice for that. A holdfast will work if the piece is wide enough but I’ve never used one — too pricey in my books.
If you are beginner, a combination plane is not the best tool to practice with. Start with a decent #4 plane, a few chisels, a square, a saw and a couple of clamps. Make some dovetail boxes, practice mortise and tenon joints etc. That will tell you whether its worth spending time and money on a workbench, vice and some more tools.
An alternative to an eclipse is the older Wilton vises. These were made for industrial arts programs and are very rugged! This one came from a school that had discontinued its wood shop program.
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