Getting Sorted, Adding Hardware

With a bit of a shuffle, and cleanup, the workspace is looking good.  The shed is tight, but having the dedicated work surface is invaluable, and is already being put to good use.

The stack of Festool has been moved to a more accessible location, and again the advantage of the boom arm is apparent – giving easy access to the hose and power from the Festool vac (thanks to autostart).

Relocation of the setting out tools makes them a lot more accessible.  The gas bottle is stored under the bench at the moment- as good a place as any (currently used most often for the branding iron).  Not sure what I’ll store on the shelf – at this stage the Kreg Pockethole jig is stored under there (in a Festool Systainer).  In the drawer under the bench are bench dogs and surface clamps.

The Veritas Bench Dogs (and Bench Pups) from Carbatec are a very nice add-on.  Being used here while hand planing (HNT Gordon Aussie Jack Plane on New Guinean Rosewood).

The dogs and pups set low (as low as you want them) sit below the edge of the board so as not to affect planing.

Veritas Bench Dog (left) and Pup (right). You need a thicker bench for the bench dog (than for the pup).  The pups are very functional.

The Veritas Surface Clamps are very quick and easy to install – drop them in the desired hole and tighten the knurled knob.  There is a shoulder that prevents the clamp holddown going any deeper than necessary.

Now to find some interesting projects to really commission the bench, and get my teeth into.

The Carbatec Bench

The final push, actually the easy bit – the bench assembly.  With the Veritas vice in place, the four legs are bolted to the underside of the bench, and the vice(s) fitted.  Because I had added the Veritas, I had a vice left over so added it to the back of the bench behind the drawer.  It only needed 3 holes to be drilled to fit it there, so no biggie.

The shelf is then bolted to the legs which provides a significant amount of rigidity.  The vices are then screwed down, and the drawer assembled and fitted.  Anyone who has ever bought anything from Ikea will have no problem putting that drawer together.  The entire bench assembly should only take about 30 minutes.  (Again, instruction manuals be damned).

The standard vice is a very simple animal- the two bolts at the rear of the guide bars are removed, then the base is unscrewed.  The front jaw added then the unit inserted through predrilled holes in the bench skirt. The rear bolts are tightened, and the base screwed to the underside of the bench.

This was then repeated for the other vice that I fitted at the rear of the bench.  No point letting one go to waste!

With all the vices and fittings in place, it was time to turn the unit over.  Bloody heavy thing – weighs in around 80kg.  Perhaps not as heavy as a full wood one, but enough.

The bench in position in its new home.  (fwiw, the rear vice looks high because it has the removable jaw extension added).

With the Veritas in prime position, and clamps all around, this bench is ready to work. I’m debating whether to put my metal working vice on the bench as well – may do, especially if I park the Festool Vac under the bench.  The benefit of having the boom arm!

The bench can move a bit when pushed on, but it is pretty good.  There is some spring in the legs (unavoidable), but the majority of the movement would come from the feet.  If you were serious about bench stability, I’d not use the feet and instead would bolt the bench to the floor, and/or use a bracket to secure the bench to a wall.

I still have some holes to drill in the Veritas Vice jaws, so I can add some bench dogs.  The plastic ones that came with the bench will probably go in the bin, and instead I have picked up some Veritas ones from Carbatec, which fit a standard 19mm hole.  These will be perfect on the Torque Workcentre as well, as soon as I drill the new matrix of holes for the Walko clamps.

I got a set of Veritas Bench Dogs for the bench, and a set of Veritas Bench Pups for the jaws. Will see if that is enough for my typical use, not that they are particularly expensive, and they have a great, heavy feel.  With some holes in the side of the jaws of the Veritas Twin Screw, it will also allow large sheets to be clamped vertically to the side of the bench as necessary.

I also found these Veritas Surface Clamps, which also fit into the same 19mm holes.  The knurled knob tightens the clamp into the hole, and the arm moves freely up and down the shaft until a load is applied when it then locks into the ridging on the shaft.  These too will be extremely useful on both the workbench, as well as on the Torque Workcentre.

So the whole thing has come together nicely.  A combination of an easily assembled bench (that I didn’t have to make), and some quality fittings to finish it off.

One day, this bench will allow me to follow the reasoning of Douglas Adams (and the Deep Thought computer – a computer designed by pan-dimensional, hyper-intelligent race of beings to answer the question of life, the universe and everything (42), and then to design the computer that could explain the question) and use it to build THE bench.  But not for a long time yet!  This bench will keep me out of trouble for a long time, and more than likely will only help me contruct another if I happen to acquire a much larger shed that would give me space for a second one!

Over the coming weekend, I’ll try to get some photos of the bench in action, particularly the Veritas Dogs and Pups (and Surface Clamps) and how they work with the vices to secure items down.

FWIW, the standard (unmodified!!) version of this workbench is expected to be seen on “Better Homes and Gardens” tonight (Friday 20 May 11) on channel 7 at 7:30pm when the Amazing Race teams appear and complete some building challenges.

The Cookie Monster

Those who have been following this blog would have seen and heard about the Rockler Bench Cookies, but in Australia getting hold of them required purchasing from the USA.

I even tried to get Rockler to consider me making them available but that didn’t come to anything either.

So it looks like Australian woodworkers will just have to do without……or will they?

Rockler have been making the Bench Cookies in other colours, and with other brandings, including Bench Dog, and it so happens that Professional Woodworkers Supplies can now provide Bench Cookies under the Bench Dog brand – $27.50 inc GST.

Bench Cookies

So if you were ever wanting THE item from the last AFWS in Las Vegas, they are now here and available!

Click here for my previous Bench Cookie article, and here is a quick video I shot about them on what sounds like a very rainy night, back almost exactly 12 months ago:

Bench Dog Push-Loc

Safety equipment is only useful…..if you use it.

There are lots of excuses used to disregard the use of safety equipment – can’t find it, some safety equipment interferes with the operation of other safety equipment, the safety equipment interferes with the process itself.  Are these excuses ones that you are willing to overcome, or ones you’d rather be telling to the A&E department?

One fundamental rule is keeping fingers (bodyparts etc) at least 6″ away from moving blades, and a part of achieving that is the use of pushsticks. Bench Dog have attempted to overcome some of those other excuses with their Push-Loc pushstick, supplied by Professional Woodworkers Supplies

Bench Dog Push-Loc Offset Pushstick

Bench Dog Push-Loc Offset Pushstick

It has a storage container that you attach where convenient, such as with double-sided tape to the unused side of the fence (or on top if you prefer).  The storage container also provides somewhere for the ever-necessary pencil and tape measure to reside.

Thin Rip w Offset Handle

Thin Rip w Offset Handle

In this second photo, you can really see the advantage of this pushstick.  (The storage container is just to the right of fence).  It can fit a very narrow gap between the guard and the fence, and yet where your hand would normally snag on the bladeguard (and dust port), the handle has been offset to allow extra clearance.

So back to the original potential reasons for not using an item of safety equipment:

Not able to be found/accessed easily: mounted right where you need it

Interferes with other safety equipment: thin so can pass without impacting the guard

Interferes with primary operation: rubberised base for grip, the design both pushes the workpiece from behind, and holds it down on the table and the offset handle means the operator doesn’t impact the guard.

Ticks in all the boxes.

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