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Thread: New Bench Preview

  1. #1
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    New Bench Preview

    I was very happy to see Geoffery Noden had his great "Adjust-a-bench" at the Woodworks show this weekend as it's been in my thoughts for some time. I've been using a Sojberg bench for a number of years and it's done the job...but it's limited size and fixed height often made it less-than-desirable for things like assembly. One solution was to build an assembly table; probably a torsion box and several supports to vary the height. But while my shop is comfortable, it is not large enough to support both the Sojberg bench and an assembly table concurrently, particularly if I wanted to use certain tools.

    Well, I struck a "stellar deal" with Geoffery at the show on a complete Adjust-a-bench setup, including a 29" x 64" x 2 1/4" maple benchtop. The deal was so painful to him that I readily agreed to do a full review when time permits... Ah, neogtiation... (Unfortunately, Lee Valley wasn't negotiating on the price of the medium shoulder plane, other than free shipping, but I bought that anyway... )

    The unique feature of this system is that the height of the 2" thick bench can be quickly and easily adjusted between about 28" to about 45" hight. Put it down low for assembly work, at normal height for general woodworking and up high for detail work, such as dovetails and carving where you want to stand erect and comfortable. Since the unit sits fully on the floor when not being mobile, it's pretty much rock-solid, too.

    I will be adding a side vice and end vice to the unit as soon as I get time and will post "real" photos of the unit in this thread once it's assembled. In the mean time, here's a shot I scarfed and modified from their website that illustrates the minimum and maximum height with a typical work bench top.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Jim Becker; 11-07-2004 at 10:27 PM.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker
    The unique feature of this system is that the height of the 2" thick bench can be quickly and easily adjusted between about 28" to about 45" high. Put it down low for assembly work, at normal height for general woodworking and up high for detail work, such as dovetails and carving where you want to stand erect and comfortable.
    45" high!?

    Only way I could work at a 45" high bench would be standing on a step ladder!

    But seriously, it would be better if it came down some more. Heck, my stand-up-and-work bench is only about 32" high.

    Cool looking system though.
    ---------------------------------------
    James Krenov says that "the craftsman lives in a
    condition where the size of his public is almost in
    inverse proportion to the quality of his work."
    (James Krenov, A Cabinetmaker's Notebook, 1976.)

    I guess my public must be pretty huge then.

  3. #3
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    Yes, Tom, a little lower would have been nice, but I think that this is a fair compromise and took that into consideration while I thought about it. 45" isn't as high as you might think...the spindle height on my lathe is set to 46". (It was at 48", but was hard for the occasional student to work with that high) It will be rare that I would go that high, but could see it for some detail work that I wanted my eyes and hands in a comfortable position without bending my back substantially. According to Geoffery, he often raises it up pretty high when hand cutting dovetails to avoid a bent back. But just because you "can" doesn't mean you have to. I think I'll enjoy this bench once I get it configured with vices, dogs, etc...which will be a little woodworking activity in itself. I'm thinking about the Veritas Twin Screw for an end vice, but haven't started shopping for those things yet, since I only made the decision to buy the system yesterday.
    Last edited by Jim Becker; 11-07-2004 at 10:40 PM.

  4. #4
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    Outstanding !! I am glad you posted this. I do not have a real bench and I really wanted something with mobility. I look foward to your review. Any idea on how nuch this weighs?

    Thanks Jim !!
    Rich

    "If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking."
    - General George Patton Jr

  5. #5
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    Looks like Christmas came early this year. That's a good looking bench Jim. It will allow a lot of versatility easily.
    I managed my adjustable height bench by using a torsion box for the top and setting it on sawhorses or paint buckets or whatever it takes to get the height I need. It's not any good for handplaning though since it tends to slide around.
    Steve Jenkins, McKinney, TX. 469 742-9694
    Always use the word "impossible" with extreme caution

  6. #6
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    Congrats on the bench AND plane! (Ahhh, where's the pic(s) of the plane?! Looks like that will be a very functional piece. BUT, now that you mention Sojberg, how do you like it? I see where Woodcraft has the 66" (x19) top on sale this month and I'm seriously considering it. I already have a huge table, mainly for "slop" work, as well as a lot of counter space, but am really interested in having a smaller, stand-alone bench for smaller assemblies and possibly expanding into doing some simple Neander work. I'm tired of using my TS outfeed for the dead flat area needed for smaller assemblies. Appreciate any feedback.
    Cheers,
    John K. Miliunas

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  7. #7
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    Congratulations Jim.

    A height adjustable bench is a good concept. I didn't know that they were commercially available. That's just one of the many many things that I have learned at Saw Mill Creek.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Miliunas
    BUT, now that you mention Sojberg, how do you like it? I see where Woodcraft has the 66" (x19) top on sale this month and I'm seriously considering it.
    John, the plane has a 3-4 week delivery time, so no pics until it ships...so many folks have been buying them that the stock is way behind the orders. Sam from Mini Max also ordered one...

    The Sojberg bench is a nice bench, well built and functional. But it's not heavy enough for "real" Neander work without a sturdy base to support it. I built the base that they supply the plans for with the table top. It's functional, but needs more weight and heft...2x material is also prone to racking over time if you really start to work it hard with the hand tools. I haven't experienced that, but I don't have any "usable" planes over my L-L low-angle block plane. Were I building the bench again, I'd likely make a heavier cabinet style base rather than the trestle design. The shelf and drawer assembly I did make really stiffened it up, but not as much as a full cabinet would do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Konopka
    Any idea on how nuch this weighs?
    I cannot pick up the top myself more than about an inch. The base probably weighs about hundred pounds and it will be easy to add ballast between the stretchers if I need to do so. It's very stiff and doesn't rack from what I can see so far.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker
    45" isn't as high as you might think...the spindle height on my lathe is set to 46".
    Oh I know that. When I said 45" is high, I meant for me. But then if the whole world was scaled to my height most of you guys would be bumping into the tops of doorways all the time, and some of the taller folks would scrape ceilings with their heads.
    ---------------------------------------
    James Krenov says that "the craftsman lives in a
    condition where the size of his public is almost in
    inverse proportion to the quality of his work."
    (James Krenov, A Cabinetmaker's Notebook, 1976.)

    I guess my public must be pretty huge then.

  10. Looks like a very versatile bench. Did I miss something or did you not tell us how this bench is adjusted in height? Is it ratcheted up, I see some notches on the end in the pictures? How heavy is it? Stable?
    Big Mike

    I have done so much with so little for so long I am now qualified to do anything with nothing......

    P.S. If you are interested in plans for any project that I post, just put some money in an envelope and mail it to me and I will keep it.

  11. #11
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    Jim,
    Good score! I would have one in a heartbeat if my shop size permitted a second bench. And, even without room, I am considering it. He also has a mobility kit, which if memory serves, is $125.
    oWere I doing one, I would go with the legs, but build my own bench top. I prefer a traditional tail vise, and installing one on a premade top would be aaabout as much work as making one from scratch. Also, my preference is for a tool tray, with the rail behind it being structural.
    As to the stretcher vs. the cabinet style -- Shaker -- base, I really like an open base, esp for ease of clamping. A trestle can be very stiff. My legs are 3 x 3, and stretchers 2.6, all hard maple. The joint is a captured 1/2" x 6" bolt with square nut. I prefer this to the threaded rod since it is my feeling that the threaded rod, esp. in 3/8", stretches over time. But, like most things, I am probably wrong about this.
    Enjoy your new toy.
    Alan

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Stafford
    Looks like a very versatile bench. Did I miss something or did you not tell us how this bench is adjusted in height? Is it ratcheted up, I see some notches on the end in the pictures? How heavy is it? Stable?
    Yes, it ratchets up...you lift one end at a time. Reducing height is done by using a foot pedal to release the ratchet and lower the end in the same manner. Other questions were already addressed as best I can.

  13. #13
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    I have seen the bench demonstrated, and it is easily adjusted. As I remember you step on the release and lift or lower that end. It does have notches that engage very securely when the you step off of the release. The wheels can be adjusted so that the bench is can be adjusted between the notch heights. Congrats, Jim, if I don't try a Japanese style trestle bench, then I will be following your example when WoodWorks get to my neck of the woods in February.
    Old age can be better than the alternative.

  14. #14
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    Good Haul

    Jim,

    Good haul on the bench and plane! First you start going to hand tool stores in NYC and now you are buying hand tools at woodworking shows and an improved bench.....before you know it, you will have a full set of Hollows and Rounds!

    I am around today and tomorrow with a light schedule, if you need a hand throwing that top around. I can also bring up an old Stanley #7 if you want to chase the rounded front away for a face vice.

    I talked to Geoffrey again, and I think I am going to pick up a set of un-powder coated legs from him (I am painting everything in my shop Hugger Orange(old car/race guys will know the color)). I really like the design and am well and truly impressed with the design and stiffness of his system. I like the idea of a saw bench and Dovetail bench all in one.

    Have fun,

    Robert

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Turner
    Good score! I would have one in a heartbeat if my shop size permitted a second bench. And, even without room, I am considering it. He also has a mobility kit, which if memory serves, is $125.
    oWere I doing one, I would go with the legs, but build my own bench top. I prefer a traditional tail vise, and installing one on a premade top would be aaabout as much work as making one from scratch. Also, my preference is for a tool tray, with the rail behind it being structural.
    Given time, I would have considered building my own top, but this is a good compromise...the slab is just a starting point. It will get aprons, vices, dog holes, etc., and will be all that I need. Nothing shabby about a 2 1/4" thick slab of maple, even if it's finger jointed and has a few small defects. They will be sanded/planed away in the transformation, anyway. I have to remove the radiused edges to do the aprons...'would have prefered to just flip it over and start from there, but the top is already drilled for the lag bolts used for mounting it to the base since this was one of the benches used for the hand tool demos at the show. BTW, I did get the mobility casters...it was part of the "painful negotiation" I mentioned above...

    For vices, I'm likely to go with the Veritas non-racking full width end vice setup which makes it useful for carcass clamping as well as Neander work.

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