Bench Helpers


One thing about a bench – you invariably wind up with all sorts of handy-dandy things to make it more useful. Now, bear in mind, I’m a simple hobbyist woodworker.  While I like to make nice pieces, you won’t see them in my shop.  I can see no reason to use expensive woods and involved finishes on something that’s going to take a beating as part of it’s normal existence.  As a result, my shop furniture and fixtures tend to be simple and to the point.   That said, below are my solutions to various problems around the bench:

Accessory Retention System

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my favorite bench accessories is my collection of T-spacers for my face vise.  The problem is, there are several that I use routinely.

Bench Organizing 1

This Accessory Retention System (hey, sounds good anyway) is a simple little good piece of plywood drilled for holdfasts, notched for T-spacers, and screwed to the underside of the end of the bench.  After installation, I realized that vibration from working on the bench caused the T-spacers to jump out of their notches, so I added the lips to the end to keep them in place.

French Rack

I’ve never been fond of tool trays in a bench.  Called “hamster nests” by many (including me), the seemed to be a great way to give up bench space and lose tools at the same time.  Some time back, Christopher Schwarz wrote about employing a “French Rack” on his latest Roubo workbench.  His was, typically, made of hardwood and attached with some fantastic Roman nails.

Bench Helpers 2

My version is, typically, made of strips of 2×4 with spacers/dividers cut from matching strips and then glued and brad nailed where desired.  The entire assembly is then screwed to the back edge of my bench with not-so-fantastic drywall screws.  I liked it so much that I added a second one to span the entire back of the bench.  I realize that it is not nearly as impressive as the one The Schwarz made.  However, it performs the same basic function of holding tools out of the way for the work in progress.

Board Jacks

One of the main advantages of the Roubo bench is that the legs are flush with the front edge of the top.  This allows all sorts of holding and clamping options not available with other designs.  When I made my bench almost four years ago, I didn’t take this factor into consideration.  However, by lucky coincidence, my top overhang was almost exactly 1 1/2”.  This allowed me to install a pair of board jacks made from simple 2×4’s with 1” holes.  A pair of moveable brackets were added to support the board.  I chose this over a simple peg to prevent “ovalling” of the holes over time from the weight of boards on a single peg.  Two legs, two jacks – simple and effective.

Bench Helpers 4

As you can see, my bench helpers are lacking a certain “fit and finish.”  I simply used available materials in response to a particualr need.I’m sure there may be better ways to do things but, as Detective Rick Hunter (remember him?) used to say years ago, “It works for me.”

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2 responses to “Bench Helpers

  1. I like the shape and design of your board jack rests. I’m going to have to make a pair of those. Are there two dowels in each rest?

    • Yes. Two dowels in each. I tried just one, but had problems with them loosening in the holes as the unit got worn. Two is harder to get aligned in the beginning, but is much sturdier in the long run.

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