Here’s Another Great Workbench Idea – May 2016

Our latest Lake Erie Toolworks Worbench Idea comes to us from Michael H. who hails from the town of Westford in the Green Mountain State of Vermont.  Michael has built a multi-functional dream of a workbench that serves as a workbench, router table, saw out-feed table, layout, assembly and edge joining table. Now try saying that again three times real fast.  She’s a beauty and we know you’ll all appreciate this latest Workbench Idea.

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Leg Vice, Wood Vise, Wood Vice, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Leg Vice, Wood Vise, Wood Vice, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Leg Vice, Wood Vise, Wood Vice, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Leg Vice, Wood Vise, Wood Vice, Vise, Vice

Lake Erie Toolworks, Roubo Workbench, Leg Vise, Leg Vice, Wood Vise, Wood Vice, Vise, Vice

This project started with the purchase of a new SawStop Table saw and when I discovered my very old outfeed table was the wrong height and the miter guides were the wrong width.  I wanted something much sturdier than my old table; I wanted to make better use of the space beneath the table (cabinet to follow), and I wanted a leg vice to compliment the shoulder and end vice on my 35+ year old (and also needing to be replaced) workbench.

A lot of my work is frame and panel so I am often ripping rails & stiles and wanting to re-joint between passes on the table saw.  I reasoned that I could throw a board into a leg vice and run a jack plane over it faster than I could go to the dust collector, open and close blast gates, go to the jointer, run the piece and then retrace my steps.

So, I thought, while I’m at it why not build in a new, more versatile, better dust collecting router set up.  So now I have this bench – an outfeed table, an assembly table, and edge jointing table, and super-duper router set-up. The design started with the Benchcraftted Classic bench design.  I made it 4” wider, spread the legs to accommodate the router and eventual storage cabinet.  Then I added a bridge piece between the bench and the saw to span across the bottom dust collection hose and give myself 48” behind the saw blade.

The bench is made almost entirely from 8/4 poplar.  After I got the top together I discovered I had managed to turn the thing around and had framed in the router opening on the wrong end (mistake #1), so I ripped it apart and re-glued it, but in my haste lost control of the process and had no way to flatten it (mistake #2) so I ripped it apart and re-glued it, again.  Three times a charm, except then it wasn’t as wide as I wanted and I was out of poplar.  I found a piece of cherry that had been living in my shop for a long, long time and it became eye candy trim.  The bench plans called for cutting the mortises in the top and then fitting the base to it.   This required getting all 12 mortise & tenon joints in three dimensions all to come together at once.  I was amazed when it happened!  In a do over I’d build the base and then transfer markings to the top.  I also took the directions to make the holes in the leg & chop 2 9/16″ too literally.  This left only 1/32” of clearance on the radius and made the installation quite demanding.  In a do over I’d go to 2 3/4.  I haven’t yet figured out where I want the holes in the deadman, so haven’t drilled them.

Unlike a “real” work bench I wanted this to be slippery, so I finished it with three coats of good tung oil and then waxed it.  I only leather lined the chop, not the leg.  The casters are from Woodcraft and settle onto a firm base. They provide leveling and easily screw up to a wheel when movement is necessary.

Thanks for reading.  Michael H. – Westford, VT

 

Lake Erie Demo Workbench With a European Flavor

Whenever we attend a trade show or woodworking event we normally haul around our small Lake Erie Toolworks Demo Workbench to demonstrate the feel and functionality of our wooden vises (shown below here with the amazing Frank Klausz in action).  We usually hear phrases like “smooth like buttah”, “fast as lightening” and “holds tighter than two coats of paint” when someone gives the vises a test drive.  The challenge has always been, how best to replicate this very tactile vise experience so that people could try it out.

Lake Erie Toolworks, Leg Vise, Wagon Vise, Shoulder Vise, Workbench, Vise, Vice

Our distributor in Germany, “Dictum” decided to provide this experience to their customers by commissioning a fully functional replica of our demo bench for use in one of their showroom floors in Germany.  The bench was built by Jarek Ostaszewski who also happens to run a successful DIY construction and tool review YouTube Channel called “Domidrewno” in Poland.

Here’s the fantastic end product for your review.

Lake Erie Toolworks, Workbench, Wooden Vise, Wood Vise, Wood Vice, Leg Vise, Wagon Vise, Shoulder Vise, Domidrewno

Lake Erie Toolworks, Workbench, Wooden Vise, Wood Vise, Wood Vice, Leg Vise, Wagon Vise, Shoulder Vise, Domidrewno

Lake Erie Toolworks, Workbench, Wooden Vise, Wood Vise, Wood Vice, Leg Vise, Wagon Vise, Shoulder Vise, Domidrewno

Lake Erie Toolworks, Workbench, Wooden Vise, Wood Vise, Wood Vice, Leg Vise, Wagon Vise, Shoulder Vise, Domidrewno

Lake Erie Toolworks, Workbench, Wooden Vise, Wood Vise, Wood Vice, Leg Vise, Wagon Vise, Shoulder Vise, Domidrewno

The workbench is made out of solid beech along with Hard Maple for the vise components and is extremely sturdy and heavy.  It also makes the perfect workbench for people who have limited space in their workshop, garage, basement or apartment but still want a fully functional and robust workbench.

For those of you who have further interest in this type of workbench, here is the link to access a series of nine (9) YouTube videos from Jarek on Domidrewno that will show you how he constructed the bench.  If you don’t speak Polish, you will still be well served in watching the videos to see how he made this great workbench.

If you have any other comments on this workbench that you’d like to share with us, just drop us an email or give us a call.

Best regards,

Jeff Dombrowski – Lake Erie Toolworks

Announcing Our January 2018 Workbench Idea

Here’s a great way to start out the new year with a workbench idea featuring a retrofit Shoulder Vise added to a 24 year old workbench by Jesse H. from Kingsport, Tennessee.  Jesse also built an amazing chest using the shoulder vise.  As he says below, the proof is in the pudding. Enjoy!

Shoulder Vise, Lake Erie Toolworks, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Shoulder Vise, Lake Erie Toolworks, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Shoulder Vise, Lake Erie Toolworks, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Shoulder Vise, Lake Erie Toolworks, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Shoulder Vise, Lake Erie Toolworks, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Shoulder Vise, Lake Erie Toolworks, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

Shoulder Vise, Lake Erie Toolworks, Wooden Vise, Vise, Vice

This past summer I had purchased a shoulder vise screw from you guys and using your detailed instructions (I did dovetail the nut to the arm instead of using lag bolts, but I am sure the lag bolts would have worked just as well), I retrofitted a shoulder vise on my existing bench, which has been through several metamorphoses through its 24 year life!

I had always just dealt with my front vise racking and slipping.  I had kept blocks on my bench to keep the vise from racking and there was always a bunch of fiddling. Lots of times I was trying to saw and hold the work with the other hand so the stock wouldn’t slide around in the vise.

Not so with my shoulder vise! The screw is smooth as silk, and the slightest turn will release or grab the stock. My bench is not much to look at….I believe in building furniture, not a shop.  But the “proof is in the pudding”…in this case in the using.  I built the chest of drawers in the pictures using the shoulder vise for all the joinery. Cutting dovetails and tenons was a joy!  Great work guys! ….and for me, money well spent!

Here are some pictures of my old bench, retrofitted with the Lake Erie shoulder vise…and as you see in the pictures, no leg under the shoulder vise.  So far, no problems from the absence of the leg.  Now, it may seem like a little thing, but even though I didn’t replace my rigged-up wagon vise when I installed the shoulder vise, I did order an extra handle….love the  handles!

Jesse H. – Kingsport, TN

Announcing Our November 2017 Lake Erie Toolworks Workbench Idea

Our latest Lake Erie Toolworks Workbench Idea for November 2017 comes to us from Marcel K. from Auckland, New Zealand.  Marcel has built a tremendous Moravian Style Workbench using the Will Myers Moravian build DVD as his inspiration and guide.  Kudos to Marcel, as well as to Will Myers and Joshua Farnsworth for helping to make this reality happen.

Lake Erie Toolworks, Moravian Workbench, Wooden Vise Screw, Leg Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks, Moravian Workbench, Wooden Vise Screw, Leg Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks, Moravian Workbench, Wooden Vise Screw, Leg Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks, Moravian Workbench, Wooden Vise Screw, Leg Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks, Moravian Workbench, Wooden Vise Screw, Leg Vise

Hi Nick,

I can’t believe it took me this long to build it but I finally finished my workbench.

Not sure whether it meets the standard of the other awesome workbenches in your blog but I thought I’d fire some pictures and text (below) through to at least show that the vise has eventually been put to use.

And of course let you know my appreciation of your vise screws.

Kind regards,

Marcel K. – Auckland, New Zealand

Details/Comments

When I first saw Will Myer’s WKFineTools article on the portable Moravian design I knew it was a perfect choice for the tight confines of my garage. Basically I wanted something that was solid/heavy yet not too big and could still be relatively easily moved when needed.

The only thing I wanted to change was the tool tray as I preferred having extra bench space so to SketchUp I went and started working on modifying the design to incorporate the Roubo split top idea. After a year of pondering (while building my tool chest) an article appeared on the Lake Erie blog about a great compact version of a “Split Top Moravian” from Ron G in Florida which confirmed my ideas.

While finishing my tool chest I bought Will Myer’s fantastic DVD (“Building the Portable Moravian Workbench”) and watched it repeatedly while acquiring the lumber and letting it dry a bit. After purchasing the Lake Erie Toolworks vise screw I set to work in December last year.

Yes it took me about 10 months of working off and on to complete!

I did nearly all of it by hand (rough-sawn stock dimensioning, joinery etc) and only submitted to power at the end to cut the back slab to final width using a circular saw. By then I thought I’d had enough hand sawing practice!

The bench is all white ash apart from the maple Lake Erie vise screw. Even the various dowels were formed from scrap Ash used during the build (hardwood dowel is hard to come by in New Zealand). I went with a Veritas inset vise for the end vise due to its compactness since the design doesn’t have much space at the bench ends to add a vise.

The inset vise works but during the bench build process I frequently used the notched batten method (“Doe’s foot”) to hold boards while planing on a make shift bench and it worked so well I’ve since been wondering whether I even need an end vise. The things you learn…

The overall length and width of the bench matches Will’s plans (76″ x 24”). The top slabs are asymmetrical with the front one about 12.75” wide and the back about 9.5” separated by a 1.75” slotted gap stop. This means that I have the option of building a tool tray like the original plans if I want in the future. It also means that with the gap stop in the raised position I can comfortably hand plane a 12” or so wide board against the stop.

The thickness of the top is 4.25” which is thicker than the original plans (3.5”) and the legs and stretchers are also a bit thicker than the plans so the bench is certainly heavy when assembled. I haven’t weighed it but the front slab alone is at least 40kgs (about 90lbs) so while the bench is technically portable you wouldn’t want to move the front slab too far by yourself!

The bench and vise are finished with Organoil’s Danish oil which is one of my favourite finishes. A straight oil finish that’s easy to apply and doesn’t leave a varnish/film finish and smells pine fresh which is a bonus :-). The top still has a bit of friction which is great when working on it.

There are still a few details to finish off including boring some more hold-fast holes, adding some cork or leather to the leg vise jaw and adding a loose tongue and groove lower shelf but the bench is up and running and the leg vise works awesome. I was expecting a fair bit of initial “squeakiness” before wearing it in but the Danish oil and paste wax on the screw threads have it running smoothly already.

Apologies for the quality of the pictures but they give you an idea of how small my workspace is. Basically the workbench and my tool chest sit on some rubber mats about 8’x8′ in size and that’s my entire workspace. Also shown in the pictures is the gap stop in the raised position and the vise screw. If a project I’m working on needs more space I can temporarily move the car out of the garage, partially disassemble the bench tops, rotate it 90º and reassemble to give me extra room on both sides of the bench.

This project was a fun challenge and while there’s a few mistakes, it was a great learning exercise for a novice like me. Perhaps the biggest lesson learned though is that next time I should consider buying a portable thicknesser! Jointing 20+ large lengths of timber by hand is enjoyable, thicknessing them not so much 🙂

Big thanks to Lake Erie for making such wonderful vise screws. When it arrived I wasn’t sure whether to use it or put it on the shelf as a work of art it looked so amazing.

Big thanks as well to Will Myers (and Joshua Farnsworth) for creating the workbench DVD which I highly recommend and also to Will for taking time to answer some queries I had on the design.

Roubo Workbench Build – Part 2 of 2 from Crafted Workshop

The Roubo Workbench Build (Part 2 of 2) is now complete and has been posted online by Johnny Brooke from Crafted Workshop.  The overall video and direction provided by Johnny for both Parts 1 and 2 of this very informative series are fantastic.

While Part 1 of this video series covered the workbench top and wagon vise installation, Part 2 focuses on the leg & stretcher portion of the Roubo Workbench along with the leg vise and chop build and installation.  The end product – an amazing and very functional workbench.  The plans are also available for purchase on the Crafted Workshop website as well.

Great job Johnny!

Roubo Workbench, Wagon Vise, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Crafted Workshop

 

Roubo Workbench Build From Crafted Workshop

One of the things that we’ve needed to do for a long time now was to make a good video on how to build a Roubo Workbench using our Lake Erie Toolworks wooden wagon and leg vise kits.

I guess we can check this one off the list now as our good friend Johnny Brooke from Crafted Workshop has done an amazing job with this fantastic Roubo build video (Part 1 of 2).  He will also be adding the workbench build plans for sale to his website very soon along with the Part 2 of 2 video to finish up the workbench.

Great job Johnny – job very well done!

Roubo Workbench, Lake Erie Toolworks, Crafted Workshop, Wagon Vise, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise

Red Oak Roubo Workbench Kits – That’s the Ticket

As you decide which workbench style is right for you and if a Roubo is where you are headed, we suggest you take a look at our good friends from Re-Co Bklyn to consider their green Red Oak Roubo Workbench Kits.

These green (partially air dried) Red Oak workbench kits feature a slab bench top, legs, stretchers and chop, custom sized by you and can be shipped anywhere in the U.S. This lumber has also been harvested from reclaimed trees from the metro New York City Area.  Great for the environment and great for you.

Roubo Workbench Kit

wood

We also know that Christopher Schwarz is a fan of Slab workbench construction, and has had great success building this type of workbench, so it must be good.  Plus it will save you the time and effort of having to glue up a workbench top – which is no small amount of work.

Frankly, the only other choice you’ll have to make here if you decide to pursue this bench kit is for which type of vise to marry up with your red oak chop to power this workbench.  If your choice happens to be a fully wooden vise screw kit, we know some people that can hook you up there.

Best regards,

Lake Erie Toolworks