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.

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!

Workbench Build

Got the workbench home and began the unpack.  Heavy thing – around 75kg in 2 boxes.  Placed the top onto the tablesaw (convenient flat surface) to begin the assembly.

Underneath the top, some recessed areas for the legs to be fitted, and interestingly, three partial depth saw kerfs running most of the length of the table.  Not sure why they are there – must have something to do with stabilising the top / preventing warping, but I haven’t heard of the technique before, or whether it is successful.

Holes are predrilled, including those for the wood vices.  Because of the location of the vices to the legs, even those have holes drilled through them so the vice thread can pass through the leg.

The metal legs are in two parts, allowing the adjustment.  They also have large feet that screw into the bottom of the legs, allowing the unit to be stabilised, even on an uneven floor.  There is a heavy gauge shelf that screws partway down the legs, that locks the legs together.

It is at this point that it is easiest to fit the vices to the bench, and in particular to work out how to fit the Veritas Twin Screw vice.  The distance between centres for the Veritas is 430mm.  The distance between centres of the legs of the workbench is, completely coincidentally, 430mm.  Almost like the vice was designed for this workbench.  I’ll have to drill a couple of holes through the legs for the screws to pass, but that will work, and the screw of the Veritas will pass below that of the vice that comes with the bench, so both can cohabit in close proximity.

I will have to add an additional face to the side of the bench – prefer something more substantial to be the rear face for the Veritas, and of course a front face as well.

I haven’t decided what to do with the second vice that came with the bench.  It is meant to go on the opposite end to where I am fitting the Veritas, but as this end is going to be against the wall, it doesn’t make as much sense.  Instead I will probably fit it n the same side as the other bench vice, so long items can be clamped up in both vices at the same time.

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