Popular Woodworking 2008-06 № 169, страница 47

Popular Woodworking 2008-06 № 169, страница 47

What's Meant by 'Bench Plane'

Although planes can sometimes be used without a bench, there is a real good reason for the term "bench plane." The bench is so important to using planes that the two tools are almost one subject. Planing uses so much force that a weak, loose or lightweight bench is unacceptable. Your bench must be heavy and rigid.

Most of today's workbenches are designed for assembly or use with tools such as routers. As a result, they tend to be too tall for efficient planing. When you plane you need to use the muscles in your legs, as they are much stronger than those i n your arms and shoulders. To use your legs, you must be able to lean so that you are over the plane and the work. My test for a proper bench height is to stand upright next to the bench with your arm hanging straight by your side. Bending your wrist so your hand is parallel to the floor and about 2" above the benchtop, establishes the best bench height for you. In our shop where every class has people of different stature, our bench height is a compromise that accommodates a wide range. However, we do have one bench that is a couple inches lower than the others. We do gently direct shorter students to that bench. Being only 5' 9" and having all my life envied tall guys, I have not felt the need to boost a bench specifically for them.

The best bench in the world is not useful for planing without adequate mechanisms for securing wood. Boards need to be held upright for jointing edges. They must be held securely on the benchtop when planing their surfaces. The most effective solutions are vises. You will be very dependent on your vises, and I strongly advise against pinching pennies when buying or making these critical tools. Acquire or make the best. The worldwide standard used to be the Record 53, and for that reason we have one at each of our 28 workstations. This vise is, regrettably, no longer in production. While a number of similar vises are being imported from developing countries, in my experience none is as good as the original.

You will want to include some device for supporting the end of a long board when jointing. Some woodworkers use nothing more sophisticated than a row of holes in the far leg of the bench, into which a dowel can be placed. In our classes, students never need more than to joint the edge of a seat blank. We support the far end ofthe pine blank with a shop stool.

Gripping a board between dogs is the

best way to plane a wide or a long surface. The Record 53E has a built-in dog that can be moved up for use, and down out ofthe way when not needed. Other vises, including the earlier Record 53, do not have a dog. This is accommodated by adding a wooden jaw with a dog hole in it.

You need a row of holes in your bench-top that are in line with the vise dog. These secure the front end ofthe board.

Running a plane into a metal dog really

does a number on the cutting edge. Fixing such damage takes a lot of effort and time. So much metal has to be removed to remove the damage that the tool's life is shortened considerably. To prevent these accidents, we have replaced all the metal dogs both in our vises and bench stops with nylon dogs that we have dubbed "tool friendly." When I look at the nicks and gouges students have cut into the dogs, I realize just how valuable they are to me. — MD

Put your legs into it. Your leg muscles are far stronger than those in your arms and shoulders; use them to your planing advantage.

Record vise. The worldwide standard in vises used to be the Record 53; it's on all the benches at The Windsor Institute. Check flea markets or eBay if you're in the market; it's no longer manufactured.

Nylon dogs. Metal dogs can really muck up the cutting edge of your plane; these nylon versions are far more tool friendly.

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