A Workbench Accessory I’d Love to Have

Swing-out_seat

I do a lot of drafting and sketching at my workbench, so I’m always swiping stools from the house and they are always underfoot in the shop.

So when Jeff Burks sent me this 1916 photo of a manual training bench designed by D.V. Ferguson of St. Paul, Minn., I immediately latched onto the swing-out seat. I’ve seen these seats before in factory lunchrooms, but it never clicked as a bench accessory. Until now.

Vintage ones are expensive ($400 or so), so I’ve got my brain thinking on MacGuyvering one from off-the-rack metal components and (duh) wooden ones.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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46 Responses to A Workbench Accessory I’d Love to Have

  1. tpobrienjr says:

    Is the seat left handed or right handed?

  2. bearkatwood says:

    Man, that is awesome! I am making a carving bench in a few months and I really like that swivel out stool seat. I am going to use that design element. I wonder if there is any way to make that drafting board easy to store and access, my bench will be against a wall and it looks like that goes past the back. Thanks for the idea.

  3. jbrocon says:

    Do search on Pinterest for workbench seat. A pin shows one made as a sliding deadman attachment. I don’t know how to post pics or I would.

  4. jdcook72 says:

    How about using some type of barrel/lift off hinge so you could also completely remove the seat for whatever reason?

  5. Whaaaaaaat. That’s a great idea. Having just picked up some 6″ by 1′ wide gluelam beams off Craigslist for a benchtop I’m glad I saw this before I started building. I am gonna think about this! Though for self psychological peace I might add a flip down support JUST in case I do some rowdy drawing and crush my legs under 300lbs of French beastery.

  6. Mike Baggett says:

    A link to the sliding deadman seat jbrocon was talking about. http://lumberjocks.com/projects/97940

  7. Brilliant. Just have to find the right hardware.

  8. Paul Smith says:

    In my Jr and Sr high shop classes there were stools fastened to each corner of several of the benches. The “butt” polished wood seats and cast iron mounts.

  9. prrk47002 says:

    Do you know someone that makes/repairs old style iron railings? or if you want a contemporary look, a welder could whip one up out of round & square stock. Heck, you would start a new cottage industry when you post where you get your hardware…

  10. toolnut says:

    Umm. What’s the proper height for a workbench seat?

  11. Search “Crown Limited Swing-Out” for a modern take on this designed for yachts. There is also a classic wooden sailboat with a helm seat that attaches to the mizzen mast that is very similar. I believe reproductions are available, maybe advertised in “Woodenboat” magazine.

  12. sawmillman says:

    As long as we are Macguyvering’ and seeing as how I am always looking for ways to spend more time in the shop….. Put a hole in the middle of the seat and a bracket for bucket underneath and presto a swing out toilet\stool combo!!! Ok well maybe that’s taking it a little to far??

  13. bearkatwood says:

    Found this hardware. Looks like it will work perfect for my project. http://www.indyfurniture.co.uk/

  14. U.S. Navy chow hall benches had these seats .
    Richard O. Byrne

  15. Brad Parham says:

    Very cool idea, I currently have no stool, but find myself wanting to sit down for some things and the idea of not having to find a place to keep a stool out my my way is very appealing. This goes on the list of possible future enhancements to my work bench. Thanks for sharing!

  16. 61chrysler says:

    Aha!
    The answer to making my grandson comfortable at the bench without adding the clutter of another stool.

  17. How about the drafting top plate? Is it hinged with pins to the rear uprights, to fold away, or how does that work? Could be useful to have an installation like that with a bit softer and ungrained material for better properties for drafting and writing to prevent unintended tracing from underlying surface structure. I have successfully used linoleum for this in the past, but never in connection with a bench though. If squared up nicely with hardwood edges, it also works well with a main ruler/T-square.

    I have an old dentists chair for the shop (the one for the dentist – not the patient!). As it both swivels and adjusts easily up and down, it can be used for several applications around the bench to prevent long days in the same bent over standing position, if you need to do very detailed work on the face of something, rather than from the top down.

  18. Rachael Boyd says:

    I understand the idea of it. but when I stop and think of how and were I use the stool in my shop I don’t see it working for me.

    • tsstahl says:

      I’m in your camp on this one. I sit on my saw bench.

      I added a document rail to the top of my main Dutch tool chest; since then I do most of my studying/writing on that surface.

      Regardless of the above, if something like this fell into my lap, I’d use the heck out of it.

  19. shopsweeper says:

    You can still find these at Urban Remains Chicago, but the prices! The last one I saw in person was a First Monday Trade Days in Canton, TX about 2013. I should have bought it then, of course I thought it was too high priced.

    Some of the swing brackets for industrial hose reels might be made to work. A local welder could weld up one of those ACME nuts on there. I would, of course, tip my bench over on myself.

  20. Joe Eberle says:

    Two enhancements needed
    Cup holder and it needs to recline for after lunch naps

  21. is9582 says:

    Yeah. I’ve thought that would be cool to add on a bench. I even saw one that was setup much like a sliding dead-man, allowing its use all along the bench. Look forward to seeing what you do.

    Cheers

    Lee

  22. luce32 says:

    There is a cast iron frame for a vintage bench seat on eBay for 99.99 item # 361494740877. All you have to do is clean it, paint it, and put a seat on it. Good luck it’s less than you $400.00 ones.

  23. bruceeaton10 says:

    Cool idea. I’m new to your site, but have noticed that you seemed to be missing a stool. I find it nice to sit at my bench whenever possible, doing chisel work etc. It’s a lot of time on your feet otherwise.

  24. ejcampbell says:

    I have an adjustable height stool with back I got from work when it was declared surplus. I replaced the pads with wheels. I move the height up or down depending on what task I am performing at the time.

  25. parks2167 says:

    10 years ago I made a rolling stool with the base from an office chair,1″ dia. threaded rod, and a tractor seat. It’s just too short for my new bench. Thinking of a double swing arm mounting on the right leg and held with a 3/4″ pin like a holdfast thru the existing leg hole. It would store under and could be easily removed if the bench needs to travel to a new owner.

  26. I still love the Dunbar stool design from a few years ago in pop wood. I’m waiting for someone to offer it as a class. You might be able to design it such that it fits under the bench??

  27. legmakernc says:

    I’d like to get a hold of a cool design for a drafting table. Minus the swing seat.

  28. toolnut says:

    I was looking through the Lee Valley catalog and thought you might be able to MacGyver this:
    http://www.leevalley.com/US/hardware/page.aspx?p=48449&cat=3,48759&ap=1

  29. hbra12 says:

    Seated Deadman Sliding

    Chris and commenters many thanks for the inspiration, how much fun this was to make. I got to use up some of my 10′ of left over dog dowels and repurpose the seat from my shave-horse.

    Jamell, hurry up with the hardware before I am forced to do the necessary to my Benchcrafted moxon handwheels .


    • toolnut says:

      Very Nice. Save the moxon and use the piano seat in the LeeValley link in the comment above this one Should drop right in and you get your shave horse seat back.

  30. hbra12 says:

    Many thanks, I will be able to use the seat for both. and thanks for the LV link I have ordered the seat hardware but would still like to see/buy the Benchcrafted Wheelhouse offering.

  31. Tight Ship says:

    I read an updated post about this stool and now I can’t seem to find the updated post anymore. The retailer mentioned in the update was interesting and I’d like to revisit their site if possible. Am I blind or is it missing intentionally?

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