Monday, February 21, 2011

X marks the spot

"I'll tell you what I've heard myself," continued Captain Smollett: "that you have a map of an island, that there's crosses on the map to show where treasure is, and that the island lies—" And then he named the latitude and longitude exactly.
Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

No treasure here, but if you were to add a couple more hold fast holes, where would you put them? I have a notion, but input welcome before I turn the thing into Swiss Cheese. The grid is to (possibly) make explanation easier. e.g. The existing holdfast hole is on the border of C4/D4.

Of course I can multi-task and am thus able to dither over that and other things all at the same time. What can I say? It's a gift. So I'm also wondering about my board jack/sliding deadman/bench slave conundrum. Sensible suggestions have appeared in the comments box, for which I thank you. But something held in the tail vice is only good for boards of about 4 ft long and more, which seems to be of dubious advantage for much of what I do. A separate standing bench slave appeals because it means I don't have to do any more evil to the bench itself, but I worry about the uneven nature of the floor and whether another "thing" to store in the mythical land of "Somewhere" won't be more trouble that it's worth.

My inclination is towards a sliding board jack, always ready to use, mounted on the bench. But I have 6" (150mm) of overhang to accommodate, and the only solution I've (so far) found to the problem is from the bods at Lie-Neilsen, as seen here on the Woodworking Magazine blog, and also here on "Tom's Workbench". But it's a butt-ugly solution, to my eye. L-N must have thought so too, because they certainly haven't added it to the benches in that style that they sell. But I keep toying with the idea and wondering if something along the same lines, but with less workbench trestle abuse and more elegance is possible. I'm open to suggestions on that too.

Mind you, perhaps I'm over-complicating this and just a row of holdfast holes along the front edge of the bench top would be just as useful for my purposes? Or would a surface clamp be better than a hold fast in that situation anyway? Aaargh, so many options a person doesn't know what to do!

So I did something else entirely. I took the Stanley 1221K hand drill that I cleaned up when I was doing the M-F #2 the other day, and I... Well, let's just say it's gone from this: (top right corner

To this:

And then to this:

I feel a little bit unclean; I don't repaint tools. But it has a hole in the handle, a missing tooth in the gear wheel, the gear wheel itself looks like it was cast by a blind man, and the chuck is seized up so I can't fix the sticking jaws - I figured anything I did was only going to improve it. But mainly I figured the gear wheel would be rusting endlessly if I didn't paint it. The only thing against doing it was the fact no-one seems to know much about a 1221K; it's a Stanley "Defiance" model, but unlike the K-less 1221, it has a side handle. What is it with me and unusual egg beaters anyway...?


  1. Hi Alf,
    I would go with the stand alone jack. I've been using one for 20 + years w/o any complaints. I have an uneven concrete floor and it hasn't been a concern. The jack is just providing one point of contact/support. I've found that the weight and pressure of whatever is on it is sufficient.

  2. I lurve my Sliding Deadman. It may be plywood, but it is simple and effective, and better for always being there. I praise St Schwartz for introducing it to me in his "Workbenches" book. Ugly can go hang, I think the extra runner up front that you linked to is the simple way - fiddle one in however you can!

    If you have to, I would vote for about H1 on your photo for another holdfast hole. But I would also point out the lack of dog holes behind your front vice which I also find useful, and could double up for a holdfast.

    Oh, and the drill is very purty ;-)


  3. I vote for a sliding deadman - mainly because that is what I am going to have on my bench :) If you don't like the LN look, then why not laminate a couple of thick bits to the front of the legs on your bench to bring them flush to the top like the sainted Roubo's bench. That way you can also drill a couple of holes in the RH leg and use a holdfast in the legs.


  4. Hi Alf, I would go with some sort of sliding board jack (deadman)that hangs in a track on the back of the front edge of your benchtop. A kicker attached to the back of the deadman will rest against the lower stretcher of the bench, keeping the deadman vertical without needing to build out the stretcher itself. I built mine this way, and it will support a lot of weight without being bulky and in the way. I sent you a separate email with photos that hopefully explain this more clearly.

  5. Boz is right, but then he agrees with me so he must be. If you're really worried about floor unevenness then give it a tripod base. Now >there's< a bit of a making challenge for you.

    As for Swiss Cheese I'd go for an as-and-when approach. If you try to guess in advance you'll never get it right.

  6. Oops, it's not Boz who's right, it's RJB.

    Whay do I always notice errors just after pressing submit?

  7. Oh, and if you make the jack the right height it will stand out of the way under the overhang of your bench when not in use.

  8. As soon as I've finished the rolling tool cabinet (nearly done) I'm going to make a stand-alone jack a`la Frank Klausz.

    I had to make a faux Georgian front door a wee while back, and using paint-tins as support was, frankly, tinny (colloquial for "a bit crap with a touch of luck", plus an awful pun).

    Sorry can't comment on the holdfast location, my bench is narrow enough that F-cramps work for just about all my clamping needs.

    Stephen Ruddock

  9. I would wait until you're doing a project to determine where to anchor a holdfast; the best place will then suggest itself.

    Also, dings, wire brushing, and fresh paint are the hallmarks of well-used, well loved, and well-maintained tools. I have an old Defiance just like yours with red paint in pretty good condition--it's not the world's most elegant eggbeater, and I have several that are much better in function or more collectable, but damn if that little thing doesn't run like a top and do everything I've asked of it. It hangs out in the "getting things done" tool box where it's come in handy over and over again, and if your best tools are the ones you use the most, my little beater eggbeater has much to commend it. If it needed a paint job, I'd give it, but it's too covered in oily, protective grime to get hurt!
    --Anonymous Comment-Leaving Person

  10. Alf,
    A row of holes along the backside of the bench is handy. I space them out based on the circumference that your holdfast can reach and try to minimize overlap. This allows for holding battens for planing.
    I also like one in the area where I chop dovetails for holding the stock, I like to chop over a leg.

  11. You don't like my (Wearing's) benchtop board jack?


  12. If it were my bench, Alf, I would drill two or three rows of dog holes to take the Veritas round dogs. You would need to position these carefully so that the round dogs lined up with your existing square dogs but that shouldn't be too difficult.

    I am sure you would find that they give you lots of useful clamping options as well as solving the "where shall I put the hole for the holdfast?" question.

    Cheers ;-)

    Paul Chapman

  13. Have you made the holes for your holdfasts yet?

    Where did you place them?




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