The next two early workholding strategies are excerpted from “Ingenious Mechanicks,” by Christopher Schwarz.
Workbenches with screw-driven vises are a reasonably fashionable invention. For greater than 2,000 years, woodworkers constructed complicated and exquisite items of furnishings utilizing easier benches that relied on pegs, wedges and the human physique to grip the work. Whereas it’s simple to dismiss these historic benches as out of date, they’re – at most – misunderstood.
Schwarz has been constructing these historic workbenches and placing them to work in his store to construct all method of furnishings. Absent any surviving historic instruction manuals for these benches, Schwarz relied on lots of of historic work of those benches for clues as to how they labored. Then he replicated the gadgets and methods proven within the work to see how (or if) they labored. This guide is about this journey into the previous and takes the reader from Pompeii, which options the oldest picture of a Western bench, to a Roman fort in Germany to examine the oldest surviving workbench and at last to his store in Kentucky, the place he recreated three historic workbenches and dozens of early jigs.
The crochet (French for “hook”) might be described as a planing cease hooked up to the sting of the workbench, however that doesn’t fairly seize its full utility. A great crochet can also be good for securing work for dovetailing and tenoning.
There are a pair sorts of crochets on the market. A few of them are like wedges. You press the work into the opening and its V-shape helps maintain the work (although you’ll nonetheless want a holdfast to finish the job). Previous French ones, as proven in “l’Artwork du menuisier,” work extra like a planing cease versus a wedge. Their opening is sq. as an alternative of V-shaped. Each types of crochet work, however I choose the V-shaped ones on my benches.
I make my crochets out of a tricky and springy wooden, comparable to oak or ash. I like to recommend you make the hook sufficiently big in order that it may well deal with 8/4 inventory. So, the opening ought to be barely bigger than 2″. Many early crochets are proven hooked up with nails. I choose 6″-long carriage bolts with washers.
Utilizing the crochet for engaged on the sides of boards is easy. Usually, you safe the work to the entrance of the bench with one or two holdfasts (relying on the size of the work). You then push the top of the board into the crochet to forestall the work from shifting as you airplane it.
If I’ve a number of boards of comparable widths to work (say for a big tabletop) I take a special method. I take advantage of holdfasts to safe a 2×4 to the entrance legs of the bench that can act as a platform for my boards. Then I press the top into the crochet. Gravity and the power of the airplane immobilize the work.
Crochets may also be used to affix the work so you’ll be able to lower dovetails or tenons. Put the sting of the work into the crochet and affix it to the entrance fringe of the benchtop with a holdfast (or a bar clamp throughout the benchtop, if you’re sadly holdfast-less).
Notches & Wedges
In many elderly work and drawings you’ll see benches that don’t have any vises however as an alternative have a big rectangular notch lower into the sting or finish of the benchtop. In lots of circumstances, these notches are used as face vises. You set the work within the notch then use a wedge to immobilize it. I’ve had nice – truly, fairly spectacular – success utilizing these notches for reducing tenons and shaping the work with chisels, rasps and recordsdata.
It took a bit experimentation, nonetheless, to get the wedges proper. Because it turned out, I used to be making issues too difficult. At first, I used oak wedges within the form of a proper triangle that I planed clear so they’d an angle on the tip of about 15°. They held the work, however not reliably. So, I attempted isosceles-shaped wedges with a wide range of angles, on the lookout for the magic quantity.
After a number of hours of messing with the oak wedges, I assumed I used to be headed down the unsuitable path. So, I went to my scrap pile and grabbed a white pine 2×4. I sawed it to 12″ lengthy and tapered one edge with a jack airplane (I later measured the angle at 2°). Then I drove it right into a notch.
It cinched down as laborious as any screw-driven vise I’ve used. It labored so effectively I laughed out loud.
In case you are occupied with making these notches (what do it’s important to lose?), listed here are some particulars. Within the previous pictures, the notches have vertical partitions. Some fellow woodworkers have recommended reducing them at an angle that’s sympathetic to the wedge’s angle. I haven’t discovered that vital.
On some benches, the notches are in the long run of the benchtop. In others, they’re lower into the sides. I attempted each. Functionally, I couldn’t inform any distinction between them. They each held simply advantageous. Making the 2 sorts of notches, nonetheless, is sort of completely different. The tip grain notches take about twice as lengthy to make as a result of the wooden is preventing you your entire time. It’s a must to rip noticed the partitions of the notch then chisel out the waste like reducing out an enormous dovetail. There’s a number of chopping vertically then splitting out the waste. It’s not a horrible job, but it surely’s far more tough than making a notch within the fringe of the benchtop.
There you crosscut the partitions (crosscutting is all the time simpler than ripping). You then break up the waste out with a couple of chisel chops. Splitting wooden alongside the grain is all the time simpler than chopping throughout it.
Listed here are the measurements for my notches. Don’t really feel compelled to repeat me, nonetheless. The tip-grain notch is 4-1/2″ extensive and 2-1/2″ lengthy. The sting notch is 4-1/4″ lengthy and a pair of″ extensive. I’ve a wide range of softwood wedges scattered about that may deal with work from 1″ extensive to three″ extensive.
Yet one more good use for the notch comes when reducing curves with a bowsaw or coping noticed. Place your work over the notch whereas sawing and it’ll vibrate much less.