Editor’s note: Mike Siemsen, the host of “The Naked Woodworker” DVD has built a cool little knockdown bench designed for traveling and apartments. Check it out – and we promise that more copies of “The Naked Woodworker” are on the way to our warehouse! Thanks for your patience.
I decided to try my hand at a knockdown bench for transport to shows and demonstrations. Such a bench could also be used by people with limited space.
It is 5’ long so it fits in the trunk of my Honda Civic with its back seats folded down. With the bench’s aprons folded down, it is 6-3/4” thick. If you pull the hinge pins and remove the aprons it is only 4-1/2” thick. It is 22-3/4” wide and stands 32” tall when assembled. The leg sections do not break down. If you leave the aprons attached there is no loose hardware. As to workholding, the crochet is removable for easier transport; there are no vises, only holdfasts and planing stops.
Above is the bench when it is knocked up.
Here it is knocked down. The aprons are hinged to fold flat, or you can knock out the pins and remove the aprons. The leg sections do not disassemble. The legs slide into the large dados in the aprons and pins lock the aprons to the legs.
This is the hardware I made for the leg-to-apron joint. A bolt through the apron and into the leg would work just as well, but I was going for a tool-less knockdown.
The mortise for the crochet before the top goes on.
I made the crochet just a 1″-square stick that slides in a mortise so it can be removed for easier packing and hauling. Chris thinks this is an emasculator, but it is too late for that!
I made a simple planing stop. A 3/4” dowel with a 1/4” x 1” x 1” square of steel screwed to the top. I sharpened the leading edge and cut in some notches. I still need to recess it into the top. I also made a “doe’s foot” and there is a stick that goes in the slot in the center of the bench for use as a planing stop as well for traversing.
Just another shot with one set of legs removed. It is very solid and a bit heavy. I can move it by myself, though.
Here is the hardware for the pins. It is just 1-1/2” x 1/4” steel bar cut to the width of the leg and drilled for a 1/4” x 4 steel pin. Drill them in pairs so the 1/4” holes match up so the pins slide in after assembly. I drilled the apron plate that receives the pin 1/64” bigger in diameter (that’s 9/64”) for clearance and I ground a chamfer on the ends of the pins. The pin is offset because I wanted the holdfast holes in the legs to be in the center.
I used 4” x 4” hinges for the aprons, three on each apron. When you mortise for the hinges make sure there is no gap between the apron and the benchtop.
I used bigger screws than the ones that came with the hinges.
I clamped the legs to the aprons when I bored the holdfast holes through the apron and into the top of the leg. I drew the location of all the hardware and screws on the face of the apron and top of the bench so I wouldn’t hit them when boring holes. You can see that the holes at the bottom of the leg are offset to avoid the screws that attach the stretcher to the leg.
I used the drill press to bore a 3/4” hole through a thick block of wood for a guide for the brace and 3/4” bit. I clamped it for the first hole and then used a holdfast in that hole to clamp it for the next one.
This is a very solid little bench that I plan to bring to Handworks in May 2015.
— Mike Siemsen, Mike Siemsen School of Woodworking