Workbench Wednesday – More Planing Board Noodlin’, a/k/a “Gobsmackery”

While at my daughter and son-in-law’s house recently knocking off a ton of piddling little jobs I took the opportunity to use and revise my cypress planing board/bench top from a couple years ago.

One thing I did to the board was add another planing stop to the bare end of the bench.  It was just a simple thing, an oak board with a couple slots cut into it and a tightening screw for each slot so the board could be raised or lowered as needed.

Along the long sides I moved one of the shooting shelves up and skewed a bit towards the flat top so that it would serve me needs more satisfactorily.  I’m doing almost all of my work with either a block plane or a small jack plane so there was no need for a really deep shelf distance from the top.  The other shelf was removed altogether and turned into a really low-tech Moxon vise using bolts and handles from the local hardware store.  Not robust enough for hard daily use but certainly enough for my needs, or so I thought.

After a few days of using it I decided to step it up a tad.  I replaced the old narrow shelf/jaw with a new piece of 5/4 x 1-3/4″ cherry, affixed to the top with two 1./2″ NC bolts embedded with epoxy into two “T” handles.  Sure, it is not as functional as a full-blown Moxon but more than sufficient for light duty on-site work.  The jaw is purposefully off-set 1/4″ below the bench top to provide another shooting shelf.

As I mentioned earlier I was able to use a small Woodcraft holdfast  on the bench top with great success.  I ordered some more of them but they were beefier than the previous ones and I thought they were too much for this little work station.  It was then that I heard the sound of my palm smacking my forehead with the recollection of the first minute of Mike Siemsen’s fabulous video on woodworking without vises.

So I asked myself, “Self, could a useful holdfast be made from, you know, wood?”  So, in keeping with the unofficial title of the barn, The Proof of Concept Place (h/t my pal John H) I gave it a try.  Using a piece of 2x literally from the kindling barrel and a piece of dowel from the scrap box I drilled and glued them together, then shaped the assembly with the band saw and a rasp.

In action it was astounding!  To be sure I need to reorient the grain of the arm to eliminate as much of the short grain as possible, but the performance of the scrap wood holdfast had me gobsmacked.  I will blog about step-by-step making the real one in a couple weeks.


PS  my new best buddy “Li’l T” made it home last night after nine harrowing days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  Prayers of rejoicing abound coast-to-coast in thanks for God’s providence and the medical magickery.  He is home and in the loving arms of his parents but is more than a little fussy; I think he might have heard me comment on the true inflation rate (~17% if calculated with the same formula as 45 years ago) and his share of the national debt his predecessors have hung around his neck.  That would crank up anyone.  Gotta be careful what I say within earshot of the little guy.