29 July 2010

The Workmare - 2

Making the workbench was a top down activity set upside down,  I was able to build the whole bench by adding one layer on top of the other without moving everything around.
- I started by setting the top on a workmate.
- I glued on top of that 40 x 60 mm left overs for a frame.  The wood  I intended to use was closer to 2" by 3" but warped. The left overs where set to the same thickness with a plane
- Added attachment and boxes for the vise screws.
- Did a first test with the gravel.  My starting idea was to use sand,  but if gravel is maybe less dense,  it will not seep through every crack and opening.  The gravel is there to set the weight to the same level of a massive wooden workbench,  that's around 60-80 kg, without the cost,  hoping it will increase the stability of the workbench.  Many woodworking demo's show wobbly workbenches and I want to avoid that.
a massive top
- I did a cut out for the front legs.  One front leg can be seen in the background, two pieces of plywood are glued together to form a 4" by 4" L shape. The cut out is my first mistake.  The starting idea was to recess the front beam one plywood thickness to allow the legs to stand flush with the top and to fill the gap between the legs with plywood as it is the front of the twin vises.  Making the legs first and gluing them afterwards on a cut out is a challenge for flush and squareness.
- I removed the gravel and glued the bottom plate.  This plate is narrower with the sides flush with the frame.  This leaves room for the legs and gives the top a border for clamps.  The theory is that is better to clamp on a limited thickness as it gives better racking resistance.

workmare build up

- I drilled a hole in the bottom to allow filling the bench after finishing and whenever needed for transport.
- The bottom plate is longer than the top creating a tool tray.
- The back legs are open to better support the top, giving the workbench its traditional look with diagonal back legs.  I first created a U frame, made of the tool tray back and the legs.  After fixing the U,  I added and glued the diagonals to finish the legs, setting everything square (lesson learned). Another mistake here, the legs of the tool tray are level with the top, and of course I cut them to stay under the top.  An error easy to repair when adding the reinforcement blocks, but it gives more saw work.
- I added two shelves to compensate for the small size of the top and to reinforce the legs by making everything stiffer. The shelves are from hardboard so there is no problem bending them in place afterwards through the gaps.


- Ok it is standing,  I need to fill it with gravel and cover it with hardboard.  You can see the open tool tray,  it is there to cut easily with a jigsaw or circular saw ... and maybe a handsaw, I think.  My intention is to keep the workbench free standing.  This is not really a problem as I have no table saw or combination machine taking the centre of my workshop.
combination machine - this example combines only 3 machines
Now I think about it a combination machine would have helped to straighten those warped beams.

28 July 2010

Workbench: The Workmare - 1

After reading Scott Landis book and Chris Schwarz blog, I had to make a workbench. I used three components to design it:
  • The workmate. It is light, unstable and small, but it is something I know and own. Make it bigger and it would probably pass Chris Schwarz Kitchen Test for Workbenches, that's fixing 3 pieces: ¾" x 18" x 24", 4" x 18" x 18"and ¾" x 6" x 48" on all their sides. Seeing those dimensions the workmate-workbench must be 50" long and have 25" between its twin screws.
  • The material needs to be as cheap as it gets. I went for one sheet of cheap ¾" plywood, some 2" by 3" left overs and one sheet of hardboard (mansonite). Add to that glue and screws, two 16" vice screws and 50 pound of gravel. The gravel is to pass the pencil test for workbenches (more on this later).
  • The design concept is based on a traditional workbench, Roy Underhill calls it a French Work Bench. For joining I drop the dovetails to use lap joints. And as I use plywood, glue ups are never cross grain and I can make 4" by 4" glued lap joints hold. The design has a tool tray and I think I need an open tool well for my jigsaw and circular saw cutting.
After referring to Scott Landis, Chris Schwarz and Roy Underhill, I go for a plywood, gravel, lap joints, tool tray, jigsaw; my workmate-workbench becomes some orthodox woodworkers nightmare. So workmare is maybe the appropriate name for this workbench, where a workhorse is a different kind animal

Some examples of traditional workbenches with tray and diagonal leg, found today on a second hand sales list. The last one has lengthened feet. In my case the leg vise becomes a twin vise to follow the workmate concept and to make the construction more simple. I also don't keep the overhang as the bench is shorter and contrary to a leg vise, the twin vise covers the whole length.

27 July 2010

Treadle Lathe

Visiting Bokrijk I had the chance to see the treadle lathes of the permanent exposition.  But also a model from visiting woodturners association.

This one seemed to work without effort, although wheel and treadle touched the grass.

I tried these two out (only turning,  not cutting),  it is heavy work.

We received also some artifacts from a socializing woodturner.  Maybe socializing by necessity, as he had just broken his toolrest.  But no magic here, these where made on an electric lathe.