Woodworker's Journal 2004-Winter, страница 62


Building a Budget Workbench

Build yourself the ideal work center for about $300.

By Rick White

Every woodworker dreams of owning a classic European workbench. The beautiful maple top and elaborate shoulder vise symbolize the essence of fine craftsmanship. But how many of us look at these benches and end up saying "it's just too nice to use in my shop." And when we see the cost of building such a bench we pass on the project altogether.

On the other hand, settling for a barely adequate bench is frustrating. Without a vise you can't hold your workpiece, and without a heavy, solid surface you can't expect to strike a chisel without having it bounce around and damage your wood.

The basic T-slot system opens up all sorts of jig possibilities for holding a project while drilling, routing, planing, sanding, or cutting at the workbench.

Being caught between a rock and a hard place over a workbench is no fun. It is the heart and soul of a shop. With this dilemma in mind, I set out to build a completely functional workstation for around $300.

About half of that cost was for a Veritas vise and a metal T-slot system. The vise has two screws connected by a bicycle chain that overcomes the racking problem commonly

experienced with traditional vises. The chain drive can be quickly released to operate the screws independently, making it possible to cant the jaws a little when holding stock out near the edge of the bench. The T-slot system is very flexible and, as you'll see, lends itself to dozens of homemade accessories.

The first thing a bench should offer is a sturdy surface, and this one fills the bill. When I recently surfaced an oak board with a hand plane the bench didn't budge an inch. The hardboard top makes a sound work surface, and since it's screwed down, it's easy to replace when it's worn or damaged. There's plenty of room for handling large panels, and I can clamp wood for sanding, surface and edge planing, edge and panel routing, joint cutting, and up to this point, any operation I can think of. The completed bench is heavy, which is perfect for deadening the blows of a pounding mallet.

In addition to the basic bench, I later added a cabinet to the leg structure. Although this wasn't part of my original project, spending an

62 * Workshop Projects

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