As mentioned previously, my poor little bench recently decided to give up the ghost and collapse on me.
Until, I get round to building a proper bench, I have decided to make some 'improvements / repairs' so I can at least carry on working wood. It's been ages since I have actually built anything useful!....
Anyway, the first thing to do was to lower the bench height by a good few inches. I have always found it hard to get some weight squarely over the plane and pushing sideways rather than downwards increases the lateral forces being exerted on the poor little bench frame therefore increasing the racking.
The bench felt quite a bit more stable immediately the legs were shortened. Next, add some bracing...
I had some pieces of wood that were perfect for the job!
With the four braces added and reduced height, I could really feel the bench frame start to stiffen up.
One of the biggest annoyances with this beginners bench has been work holding. All the dog holes are some stupid small size (~ 15mm) and not the normal 3/4" (19mm). Even if they were the correct size, the bench top is not thick enough to use holdfasts or hold downs. Also, even without the drawer on the front face of the bench, the bench top skirt made clamping almost impossible. I decided to put in some 'blocking' underneath the bench to thicken it up and bring it closer the the thickness of the bench top skirt.
The first job was to rip and glue up some timber to form a panel of the correct width. It only had to be flat(ish) on the side that was to be glued and vaguely square as it was not going to be seen - Its a workbench not a piece of furniture.
This panel, was then both glued and screwed to the underside of the bench top making the bench top now a good 2" (50mm) thick.
I used counter sunk screws from the bench top down into the blocking panel and also reused the screw holes that used to hold the draw rails on the front edge to secure the panel.
Lastly, with the timber I had left, I added a large brace across the front of the bench, this is in line with the bench top edge, so could be useful for planning the edges of large boards such as table tops.
With the thicker bench top and no drawer in the way, I can now easily use F-Clamps to clamp work on the front face of the bench and the whole bench feels a lot more secure.
I am not expecting miracles from these quick and dirty additions, but the bench is definitely better than it was. I will get round to re-drilling the dog holes and maybe get some Veritas Wonder Dogs and Hold Fasts for it, as although quite pricey, they could be reused on a new bench in the future. Maybe build a Moxon style bench vice?
At least I have a working bench again...for now anyway!