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Dreaming of workbenches

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Mikey R, Apr 13, 2009.

  1. Hey everyone,

    So sometime this year I may be moving house, so item #1 on the requirements is a garage or shed :hyper:

    This weekend, Mrs R was away so I took the opportunity to laminate up a neck from ash - sorry, no photos as the missus has BOTH the cameras. As the workmate is pants for handplaning on I clamped a batten as a planing stop to the kitchen top - wouldnt even contemplate that on a normal weekend - and got busy with my #7. Having a sturdy worksurface to work on was a revelation. So now I want something permanent.

    So, my question for those builders out there who use mostly hand tools - what features of a bench do you find most useful or fustrating? What vices do you prefer?

    I know that hand work requires a much sturdier surface than power tool work, Im planning on making it from rather a lot of steamed English beech, but Im open to other suggestions - if my local mill has an offer on English / Scottish sycamore then I might give that a go.

    As this bench will need to move whenever I do, it will need to be portable, so Im looking at this knockdown bench.

    The only feature I like about my workmate is that it can skew to hold a tapered neck - so Im thinking of a twin screw face vice.

    For holding the neck laminates whilst planing I think I'll go for a wagon vice. Its easy enough to plane against a stop, but I like to have the option to pinch between dogs.

    So far its looking quite alot like this:


    With either the Veritas twin screw vice:


    or a couple of these cheap screws:


    Does anyone use those expensive luthiers vices like the ones from Stewmac? Are they worth the expense? Does anyone know of a supplier in the UK?



    EDIT: p.s. what do you think is the smallest bench for building basses on? As this bench will need to move, I dont want to have to cut a foot or so off the length if its new home would be too small.
  2. Duplo42


    Jan 23, 2007
  3. I don't know about UK suppliers, but that StewMac vise is very nice, I use it quite a bit. Rockler or Woodcraft sometimes has it cheaper if they are willing to ship overseas.

    If you're using handtools, don't mount the bench on wheels. I just made a downdraft sanding table on rotatable casters, and it rolls around a bit too much for leaning into a hand plane even though the wheels lock.
  4. Nicely found - Dick is normally pretty cheap, so thats probably as inexpensive as that vice gets over this side of the Atlantic. At 130 Euros tho its probably going to be something to add later. :(

    The Stewmac website says shipping to Europe is just shy of $100US, I doubt any supplier in the States could be much cheaper.

    I really have learnt my lesson with the workmate - and everything Ive read seems to aggree - just make the bench about twice as heavy as you will ever need, the you should be safe! So casters are out!

    So far it looks like the legs will be 3" x 4 1/2" beech and the stretchers will be 6" x 1 1/2", with a 3" thick top. Thats gonna be heavy so it will need to break down into separate parts to move.

    Hmmm - anyone else any insights? Ive seen some really nice benches on here...

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