Mini Workbench With Rails

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Some years ago I made a large and sturdy workbench for my woodworking. With the arrival of some power tools like a planer and a band saw, my basement became a little tight. So I took off the heavy top of the workbench, reduced the frame to a footprint of 600 x 1200 mm and made a torsion box as a new top. In the top I drilled a matrix of 20 mm holes according to the Festool MFT-tables. There was no place for a vise. With a few clamps you can clamp wood to the side of the box but a vise is more suited for smaller pieces. To solve this I planned to make a small workbench I could put on top of the main workbench.

Step 1: The Top

I bought maple, 19 x 140 mm and 2440 mm long, to make a sturdy top. I cut up the board in 6 pieces and halved them. I put arrows on the pieces to have them all oriented as they were in the board to prevent tear out. The grain would be in the same direction for all pieces. Then the pieces were glued up. When the glue was cured, the block was planed to be smooth with square and parallel sides. All sides were chamfered to make it nicer to handle but also to make the edges more resistant against dents.

Step 2: Preparing the Top

The vise needed a recess to have the jaws level with the top of the block. With a template I made the recess with a router and a guidebush. With a chisel I made the corners square. I also needed holes for the benchdogs. Those were 20 mm dogs according to the Festool system. I could use the same tools as for the workbench top.

From some left over maple I made jaws to protect the workpieces from the cast iron of the vise.

Step 3: The Foot

The foot of the bench is made from 2x4 Douglas pine. The bottom part is assembled with mortise and tenon joints. With the router plane the sides of the shoulder were fine tuned to fit into the mortices. To fix the little workbench to the top, I glued two 20 mm dowels in the bottom with the exact pitch as the table top.

The connection between the bottom and the top is made Douglas pine too. For strength in all directions I made L-shaped corner pieces. With Festool dominos the L-pieces were assembled. I used also dominos to connect the top and bottom to the L-pieces.

Step 4: Final Assembly

The bottom and the L-shaped verticals were glued. With the router, I made two dados in the top for C-rails. This makes the top more versatile with additional clamping. When I screwed the vise to the top, I discovered a mistake. The vise was sticking out 6 mm above the top. From some PVC I made 4 rings with the lathe to lower the vise. I had a few self-adjusting clamps but the head of the mounting bolt was just too big for the C-rail. I made the heads a tad smaller on the lathe.

Then I found some pieces of C-rail from another project. With the router and two side fences I made dados in the side for more clamping spots.

In the end I had a small but sturdy mini workbench with a lot of possibilities. It is ideal when you work on small projects to have it at chest level. You have much more control over your movements.

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