Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 5, Issue 6
   July 2011
   The Walk-Around Workbench

  Walk-around workbench
  The author's walk-around workbench was built to fit his small workshop space.
I designed this bench to fit the small garage at my home in England. There was no room in that garage to open the doors of my compact car, so for years I'd pushed it in and pulled it out by hand. To fix this, I cut a wide doorway in the concrete block side wall, supported the roof with a steel joist and fitted a sliding door with a 1/3 height window. The garage was now too good for the car; instead, I moved my workshop into it from the rather smaller garden shed.

My new shop deserved a proper workbench. I wanted a classic L-shaped European cabinetmaker's workbench with shoulder and tail vises. I also wanted the bench in the middle of the floor instead of against a wall so that I could get to all sides of a workpiece easily.

  Top and shoulder vise secondary support
  The secondary support for the top and shoulder vises
The projecting shoulder vise, however, would be an obstruction in the narrow workspace and would be both difficult to use and painful to bump into. My eventual solution was to rotate the shoulder vise 90° and to fit it to the same end as the tail vise but on the opposite side. I named it the walk-around workbench because I can walk all the way around it to get at my work.

Design Features
To avoid the problem of colliding handles, the shoulder and tail vises share a common handle with a cap on one end. The bench's removable center aids clamping, and the thick, inflexible roof joist in the top gives it strength. I've found thinner bench sides work better with clamp-on devices such as dowelling jigs. Round 4" bench dogs are easier to adjust and pull out of dog holes in 1-3/4" material than if I'd made the dog-hole strip thicker. I made a detachable leg vise from a length of 2" x 6" slid over the stem of a Record-style hold-down that goes through an iron collar let into the leg.
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