When Scott Grandstaff of Happy Camp, California, started making miniatures, he tried just about every way to hold the small parts. Nothing worked. Vises and clamps crushed them and were too big to work around—they obscured the part being carved. Grandstaff's solution was the miniature workbench shown at right.
The bench is 13-1/2" high, with a 1 by 3-1/2 by 8" top, sporting a row of nine 1/8" by 5/16" dogholes. The whole rig can be clamped in a vise or to the surface of a larger bench, or, as shown in the photos, you can sit on the splayed wings that form the base. Two bolts in the top serve as screws for the wooden end vise.
The metal vise is made of angle iron and small scraps of rod and brass. Partly because he likes things small, and partly because a portable bench made a lot of sense for his restoration and repair business, Grandstaff came up with the two sawhorse/ workbenches shown below. "What I really needed," he says, "was a plane stop out in the field." The larger of the two hybrids has a small vise mounted on one end and 16 dogholes along one edge. The rolling bench, which is the same height, can be pulled into service to support the other end of a board.
Both benches fit easily in the back of Grandstaff's station wagon. They hold a surprising number of tools and are easily set up and moved on a job site. Plus, Grandstaff points out, the small benches look pretty nice in someone's living room if they've got to be there awhile. For added convenience and yet another level of portability, a removable toolbox fits above the drawers on the larger bench, with two doors that flap open on either side of the handle. The outside of the doors was wasted away from solid stock to leave two thicker sections resembling raised panels. These were then routed out from the inside and covered with small, hinged lids to provide handy pockets for drill bits and other items that get lost in the clutter of most toolboxes.
The larger bench is a smorgasbord of found woods— cherry, birch, oak, ash, pine, walnut and mahogany—while the rolling bench has a tan oak top and legs. After living with these for a couple of years, Grandstaff decided to make a heavier version of the stationary bench for his shop. It's got a wider, thicker top, a heavier vise and angled back legs. What's the ideal height for these portable benches? Grandstaff recommends that you "stand on one leg, bend the other one at the knee and measure the distance from the bent knee to the ground."
This article is excerpted from The
Workbench Book by Scott Landis.