Sunday, May 1, 2011

Have Bench, Will Travel

You've felt it.

That moment of panic when, while planning for a family vacation, you realize you're going to be away from your workshop for an extended period of time. An excruciatingly long period of time.

It's the very reason I learned to carve and whittle. For times on holiday when I can't bear to relax for one more second, I have a set of carving tools and chunk of wood at the ready.

As woodworkers, no matter where we go on our travels, our brains are conditioned to search for objects made of wood, tools, and workbenches.

Yesterday, while perusing the sutlers' sundry wares at the Fort Frederick 18th-century Market Fair, I was drawn to the various devices the woodworkers brought with them so they could continue to work while away from home.

The top photo is a toolbox and low bench with storage beneath. The large dovetails that join the boards are pegged, and one of the two legs has a pedestal foot.

Below that is a skinny bench, also with only one pedestal foot. This one has a little face vise attached to one side. The skinny top makes it easy to clamp a board from both sides. Add a bench stop and start planing.

The third photo is a simple and handsome shaving horse.

Beneath it is a truncated shaving horse which is sort of a cross between a shaving mule and a shaving pony. The man who made it is a spoon carver. The L-shaped metal bar that's attached to the pivoting head holds the workpiece in place.

What looks to me to be an exaggerated angle on the wooden legs would help keep the bench stationary in use; the carver's weight can't be used since there's no seat. The metal front leg digs into the ground, further anchoring the mule-pony.

The final image is one I found online and was designed by a member of the Lumber Jocks community.

This saw bench is great as is, but you can easily make adjustments and add accessories based on the type of work you do.

I can see this doubling as a bowl bench. With a short-handled adze, you can straddle the bench while the workpiece is secured by a bar clamp equipped with tall wood pads.  You can add a little tool box underneath so the weight of the tools help keep the bench from sliding.

Lots of a clever ideas to take woodworking on the road.  Now maybe a beach vacation won't seem so torturous.


David S. Foley said...

The reason there's only one pedestal foot is that on uneven ground, it is much easier to make a three-legged bench level than anything with four legs. My own sawbench that I'm working on has only three legs. It is more of the style of the lower bench.

Anonymous said...

these give me a few Ideas I need too build something to hold bowls and other stuff as I work . maybe a combination of a few different ideas.
Nice post

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, David. I knew someone would be able to answer that.

Jim, glad you were able to glean some ideas from the designs.

helen said...

Okee, now I'm getting anxious about not woodworking while we are on a cruise at the end of the month....I was actually thinking of doing a sign for a friend's wedding present, so maybe I can bring that with me :p


Karin Corbin said...

I make miniature carvings on vacations. I just got a fantastic carving from a friend, the skyline of Seattle carved into a match stick.
One year I was feeling workshop deprived on a trip and stopped in the store to buy #11 knife blades and a handle and used driftwood off the beach.

Adrian Baird Ba Than said...

I'm with you on the seperation anxiety.On our honeymoon I resorted to buying several palm carving tools so I could do a bit of carving by the pool surrounded by the Tuscan hills.
The most perfect 2 weeks of my life.

Kari Hultman said...

Helen, there's still time to build one of these little benches to take along on your cruise as well. ; )

Karin, I'd like to see that matchstick carving. It sounds pretty amazing. There's a miniaturist (I'm sure you know of him) who makes the tiniest things. I saw one that was put into the eye of a needle. He said in an interview that he was working on a ballerina and accidentally inhaled her.

Black, sounds like my kinda honeymoon!

J. Anthony Stubblefield said...

I am fascinated with the saving mule/pony. I would need to see it in action though. I am going to have to do some web searches now.

Tom said...

I like that shaving pony a lot as well, very interesting design. You would think that the metal arm would mark or damage the piece that was being clamped. Maybe the angle reduces the amount of overall clamping pressure needed? Interesting to say the least.

Myeloman said...

I have a friend whose wife is working on her masters. They have rented an apartment and only go back to their little farmstead occasionally. He recently reported that he had carved out a small space in the corner of one of the rooms in their apartment and over the course of the winter taught himself to cooper using only hand-tools. He was rewarded with a new found skill and a bucket that actually holds water! Sadly he said that he was NOT allowed to forge the iron hoops by hand and instead had to compromise with cold rolled steel and some rivets. Still... where there's a will, there's a way!

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Kari Hultman said...

J. Anthony and Tom, isn't that a neat design? I've never seen one like it, so I think it must be his own creation. I wondered the same thing about the metal bar crushing the wood fibers. You could pad it with wood or thick leather. I'd change the front leg to wood since it would be used in a workshop. His metal leg had a foot, like a hold-down, which would work on grass, but not a shop floor.

Wooden1, there's no keeping us from woodworking, no matter the obstacles! :D There is a really neat bench hook design in PopWood's Tricks of the Trade column that your friend might like. It's designed for people who are short on space.

Anonymous said...

Check out Harry "Jr." Strasil's traveling bench at either traditionaltools or sawmillcreek websites.