John F. Adams
A good work bench is a great aid in turning out work, greater accuracy being secured as well as greater rapidity, yet how many, especially amateurs, are to be found working at some makeshift contrivance of old boards, not because they cannot afford the amount required for stock for making a bench, but rather that they have never realized the value of one in their work. To readers of this class let me say, let no time be lost in ordering the necessary stock and making a bench according to these directions, as I am sure that the increased facilities afforded by such a bench will be sufficiently appreciated to win the thanks of those acting upon this suggestion.
If funds be limited, spruce can be used and will make a strong bench, but care must be used not to mar it by heavy pounding or cutting with metal tools. Maple will increase the cost, but is a fine wood to wear under heavy duty, although no bench should be used as an anvil or to stop cuts with a chisel or bit. The illustration shows a bench fitted with a quick acting vise, a fixture well worth having if one can afford the $5 necessary to secure it. Where economy is necessary an ordinary carpenter's vise can be substituted, the iron screw for the same costing about 60 cents.
The lumber bill is as follows; 1 plank 6 ft. long, 12 in. wide and 1 1/2 in. thick; 1 board 6 ft. long, 12 in wide and 7/8 in. thick; 1 strip 6 ft. long, 1 3/4 in. wide and $ in. thick, for the top. For legs, 4 pieces 3x 4 in. stock 32 in. long which, planed on all sides, will be 1/8 in. l,ess each way. For the long braces 2 pieces 2 x 4 in. stock,
5 ft. 6 in. long, and for the short braces, top and bottom, 4 pieces 2 x 4 in. stock. 18 in. long.
Tenons are cut on the short braces 2| in. long and 3 x 1 1/4 in. Mortises are cut in the posts for same to bring the top ones flush with the top of the posts, and the top edges of the lower ones 7 in. from the floor. The tenons on the long braces are 4 in. long and 3 xl 1/2 in., the mortises for same in the posts being located to clear those for the cross braces by 1 in. After these are fitted, mark out and cut holes in the tenons to receive wedges 5 in. long, 1/4 in. thick and 7/8-5/8 in. wide. The object of using wedges is to give increased rigidity. All joints should be laid out with a marking gauge and carefully cut to exact fits. Poor joints mean a rickety bench.
"When the frame work for the legs is completed, the front (2 in.) plank is attached by large wood or small lag screws put up through the top braces, boring 1 in. holes 3 in. deep and then continuing with a gimlet bit of the size to give a snug fit to the screws. Use three screws at each end. This plank projects forward 2 in. beyond the front of the posts. Next, attach the 7/8 in. board in the same way, using care that the two pieces are closed up to leave no crack between them.
Another way of fastening the frame is to use 3 in. angle irons, eight being necessary. The strip at tho back is then attached by wood screws, the top edge of this piece to be the same height as that of the front plank, so that work placed across the two will lie level.
If preferred a wide board with racks along the top for tools may be substituted, but the writer prefers to keep his tools in cabinets where dust and moisture will not injure them. A bench stop is also to be fitted to the left end of the bench about 6 in. from the end of the bench and 3 in. from the front edge. Get the kind with hand nut for adjusting to height, instead of the kind requiring the use of a screwdriver.
Another very useful attachment not shown in the illustration is an arrangement for planing boards of various widths and lengths. A board about 22 in. long, 8 in. wide and 11-16 in. thick will be needed. Also 4 strips 4 ft. long and 1/2 in. square. Two of these are fastened to the edges of the front brace at the right end, leaving a 3/4 in. space between for the board above mentioned. The remaining two are fastened to the under side of the front plank directly over those below, thus forming channels in which the board slips freely. The board is slipped in from the left end after boring £ in. holes at distances from the top of the bench varying by 1 in., but in 4 vertical lines, bo that the holes will not be too near together. A plug is placed in the appropriate hole, upon which the work is rested.
Another valuable feature is a cabinet of drawers for tools, there being ample room for one with drawers 36 in. long and 12 in. wide; having two drawers 3 in. deep, one 4 in. and one 7 in. deep, with the necessary space of 3/4 in. between them, and 3/4 in. top and bottom. Such a cabinet shouldbe supported by two braces between the long ones of the bench, and located at the extreme right end. It should be made as a separate fixture to facilitate removal when moving the bench about.