About six months ago I had a dilemma. I was doing my first Lie Nielsen Hand Tool Event and I needed a bench. Well the thing was I had a bench. I had two benches, in fact. The thing was I needed a bench that one person or well sort of one person could hall around to shows.
I needed a few things from this bench. As I alluded to it needed to be light or a least a lot lighter than my current benches. Second it needed to be something I could take apart. In other words, knockdown designed. Third I really didn’t want to drop anymore money on vice hardware considering this would be used only on occasion.
|Nicholson Work Bench|
Here are some pictures to see the way it assembles/disassembles for transport.
|Bottom of knockdown Nicholson bench with four legs on top disassembled|
|The leg is notched to make it flush with the front of the bench|
|The leg slides in a dado and the bolt is installed|
The legs are dadoed into the front and back boards to stop lateral shifting in heavy use.
|How the bolt functions with out the leg installed just for clarity|
For working the faces a simple holdfast and batten method seemed to be the best option rather than a costly and time consuming instillation of and end vice. This is something Richard over at The English Woodworker resurrected and works incredibly well. I use the sliding lock from my Dutch tool chest as the batten since it travels with me and the bench.
For working the edges of a board I use bench dogs or holdfasts in the holes on the face of the bench to support the board while holding it securely with at least one hold fast. Just that simple.
Since I was on the hold fast kick, up to this, at some point a new fangled face vice contraption just popped into my head. What was the inspiration? Who knows. I have never seen anything like it thought it is so simple I genuinely doubt it could be entirely unique. But I guess it could be. If so I am dubbing it the Jamesfast Vice. Boy thats a little egotistical, don’t you think. 🙂 Feel free to call it the Holdfast Vise. That makes more sense anyways.
|Note the supports that hold the holdfasts up when not “clamping”|
I will admit this is not a perfect vice. What is, right? Anyway, it works best if the end of the fast lands over some part of the piece that you are holding. If you do, it works just like you would expect. If not then it might not want to really grab, duh!
Heres is one other detail that might help you see how the parts interlock. The top and sides are tongue and grooved. The top is floating and the sides are glued. These are the only “fancy” joints on the bench and I debated doing them. I think the top benefited the most from this. This is how I did it but I am sure it could be altered without ill effect.
Once I was done with the bench I got really excited about what I had just accomplished. I had made a bench for around a hundred bucks (not including holdfasts) that actually worked and worked really well. When I consider how many new woodworkers could have an authentic way to have a serious hand tool woodworking bench without a major chunk of money, that no doubt they have other real world things to spend on, it is pretty cool in my book.
At the event that I first brought this to I was surprising how many people asked me about the bench (rather than my tools). Did I have plans, etc?