Real Estate

About the most valuable commodity in the workshop is not the tablesaw, or the ubeaut spiral headed whatever, or custom made plane with metal dovetails. It is space.

Floors space, and bench space.

Hard to know which one is worth more. Floor space dictates if it is possible to move around, fit in large machines and floor-mounted tools, and for project assembly.

Bench space is working area, and given how much this space magnetically attracts mess, dust, tools, offcuts, works in progress, and benchtop tools.

I’ve been struggling with this for years. I have a number of bench-top machines that have long struggled to have a legitimate home – they always get bumped for a higher priority. Guess that is always their lot in life. I do tend towards floor-mounted, stand-alone machines. Bigger, more powerful, (more expensive), and don’t take up bench real estate.

Guess that indicates where the most valuable real estate is then – the bench top. Still, bench top machines need a home, and that is the challenge I am facing.

So I have made the decision (which is modifiable/reversable) to use the bench for the bench-mounted tools. A lathe (with buffing wheels), spindle sander, belt & disk sander, scrollsaw.


That is some serious bench space to sacrifice, so there needs to be a replacement, or equivalent.

Not sure what to use to achieve this, but there are some options (without resorting to using the tablesaw as a work surface, like I have for years!) One is to make another workbench, to fit the slightly smaller space under the window. That bench will take the main Veritas twin screw clamp.

The Walko workbench will be wall mounted (as it was designed to do, as an alternative to the A frame configuration). Just need to identify a suitable section of wall. Speaking of walls, that is another area of real estate that is always incredibly useful and also in short supply. Think I have a location in mind.

Space, the final frontier.

Fitting the Veritas Twin Screw

As mentioned in the previous post, I found the Veritas instruction booklet pointlessly confusing.  There is some useful information in there that will help with the assembly, but you have to ferret them out from the detritus of words.  To jump to the end of the post, despite ignoring the warning on the front page that this manual “needs to be read, even if you normally don’t”, I have a successful installation of the Veritas Twin Screw. It isn’t hard to install!

I replaced the original table skirt on the edge that the vice was going to be fitted (wanted it wider and deeper), and this was domino’ed and screwed, with a couple of extra brackets behind for additional support.  Given the location of the metal legs of this workbench (and their location being pre-defined), the threaded rods of the vice needed to pass through them.  This isn’t as big a deal as it might sound – the two vices that originally came with the bench do the same thing.  The Carbatec bench, as designed, has some degree of wobble so I will already be adding some additional bracing to correct that, and any weakening caused by the additional holes.

The distance between centres of the legs is 430mm.  The amount of chain provided with the standard sized Twin Screw is meant to allow a maximum of 427.5mm, but if you include the optional half-link, the chain becomes the perfect length (whew).

In this view, you can see the replacement bench skirt and the supporting brackets, both vice jaws, the female thread for the vice and the hole through the leg for the vice drive.

To get the holes, I used a holesaw which did a very neat job.  Heat became an issue because I did run the drill press too fast, and used a normal light oil rather than cutting fluid.  Don’t think the holesaw bit likes me any more 😦  Hopefully I can resurrect it to some functional level.

Once both holes were drilled, and the individual screws in place, they get bolted to the front jaw.  The chain added so that turning either handle rotates both evenly, so the jaws open and close while remaining parallel.  You can skew the jaws by disengaging the gear on one side, but I’m not expecting to do that often, if ever.

The handles are added to each side, and the end caps secured with supplied screws.  Chain supports are added beneath the lower edge of the chain – these carry the slack of the chain only when the jaws are not under load.

The installation is finished with the addition of the vice cover.  This was originally plastic, but looks much better being made in metal (with cast ends).  The label stuck on at the end may look upside down in error, but then so is the bench at the moment!  Now this vice is attached, I can finish the rest of the assembly and get this bench working!  I still need to add a couple of rub-blocks under the threads to deal with any front jaw drop when the jaws are extended out towards their maximum range.  And once the bench is in place, I will add some dog-holes, once I’ve decided on what dogs to use.

I have been reminding myself that the wooden jaws are a consumable – I imagine they will last a long time, but at some stage replacing them is an option.  This is a functional tool, not some heirloom to be admired and not used.

With this kick-ass vice on the end of the bench, I’m feeling inspired!  But don’t expect me to suddenly handcutting a bunch of dovetails – I may feel inspired, but probably not THAT inspired!

Sinking one in the Corner Pocket(hole)

With the Pockethole Jig securely mounted with a large support area, it makes cutting the pocketholes in a table top very easy.

In this case, I wanted to join two pieces of particle board along a 45 degree cut to create the corner bench.

Ripping the benchtop

Ripping the benchtop

Firstly, I prepared the benchtop from an old work desk (amazing what gets thrown away these days) (Remember I did get the max score on the cheapskate woodworker quiz!).  The top was ripped to 400mm wide, for no particularly good reason, other than it looked about right.

Benchtop laid out

Benchtop laid out

I marked out the location of the pocketholes (this only has to be approximate – given it is on the underside and therefore won’t be seen).  I chose centres of 100mm, and had holes going from both sides of the mitre to maximise the joint strength (and obviously making sure that the screws were not going to run into each other!)

Ready to cut the Pockethole

Ready to cut the Pockethole

Now you can see why I wanted the extra capacity for the Pockethole Jig.  It is then a very simple, and quick operation to cut the required holes.

Cutting the Pocketholes

Cutting the Pocketholes

Here the holes are being cut.  The depth of the hole is regulated by the stop that was set earlier.  The ‘secret’ about the pockethole, is it creates this elliptical opening at an angle in the board which does not go full depth.  A pilot hole continues on another 8mm or so further guiding the screw.  The bottom of the main hole is flat, so it gives a good area for the head of the screw to press against.  I’ll go into more detail (photographic rather than continuing a lame description) in the near future.  Needless to say, it is very easy, and by planning the project with this joining method in mind, it is easy to locate the pocketholes out of sight.  If need-be, there are plugs the correct shape to fill the hole, and disguise it’s existance (or by using a contrasting coloured plug, to use it as a feature)  Personally, I just keep the pocketholes out of sight.

Benchtop Joined

Benchtop Joined

Here is the resulting (underside) of the benchtop, all joined with the Pockethole joint.  The screws used are the square headed Robertson screw (which actually predates the Phillips screw head by about 20 years).  They are particularly suited in this application being a full recess-drive type fastener, and as such stay properly located on the square drive (provided with the jig).  Phillips screws can also be used (so long as they have a flat bottom to the head, and ideally are ferrous so can stay located on a magnetised driver).  Of course the purists swear that the Robertson screw is the only one that should be used. (Seems strange using the term purist and Pockethole in the same sentence).

I attached the ‘legs’ for the bench in the same way.

The Commissioned Bench

The Commissioned Bench

The resulting bench, in location with the sanders ready to go.  I also decided that it would make a reasonable location for the also-homeless scrollsaw.  I’m feeling more organised by the minute.

Now that this corner is sorted (and there is plenty of storage capacity under this bench as you can see), the next task is going to be ripping the large rolling cabinet in half, and wall-mounting the resulting cupboards.  Given the size and weight of the cabinet (even empty, with shelves and doors removed), this will be an interesting task.

Cheap Plans

While I was in Bunnings, I found some plans for an outdoor Garden Bench on their sales table.  Originally $9.95, they were marked down to $1.

Not sure if I’ll every get around to making it, but for the sake of some pocket change it was a no-brainer.

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