One of the workbench problems I’ve yet to solve is what you should do if you don’t have a dedicated place to work.
I’ve seen lots of portable, fold-up benches, but none that I thought were worth building. I’ve seen many vintage plans for workbench tops that are supposed to go on top of your kitchen table. But again, none inspired me enough to take up a saw.
Yesterday a reader sent me a link to the photo above. Damn. I don’t have time for this, but I just might have to build that thing and see how it works. It’s just too ingenious (and crazy) not to build.
If you are still a bit confused, the photo is showing the underside of the portable benchtop. The two clamps at the top of the photo attach the rig to a worktable. The whole thing is 1-5/8” thick, 9-5/8” wide and 31” long – smaller than I assumed when I first saw the photo.
Here is why this is clever/crazy enough to build.
1. The face vise. You have two screws and four holes. You can move the screws around to clamp whatever you have at hand. It’s a double-screw, it’s a shoulder vise. It mows the yard.
2. The dog holes. Despite the fact that the holes are deep into the assembly, they are still near an edge. So you could still use fenced planes with this benchtop – a big plus in my book.
3. The wooden wagon vise. That’s just cool.
What are the downsides? My biggest concern is the weight combined with the cantilever. I imagine that you have to clamp this to a pretty stout table or a fixed countertop. Even so, I wouldn’t want to mortise over a portion of this bench that was unsupported.
The example is for sale at this Australian tool auction site. So if you live in Australia and buy it, drop me a note about how it works. The auctioneer’s description says it’s of “Scandinavian origin,” so if you’ve seen one in Europe, drop me a line. I’d love to learn more about this gizmo.
— Christopher Schwarz