Travel bench

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Blog entry by Boatman53 posted 04-30-2021 03:25 PM 507 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project has been a long time coming. It essentially started 80 years ago when Morgan Van Matre published an article in American Rifleman magazine titled ‘Another “Smallest”’ about a small traveling workbench for gunsmithing.

It first described a small bench that he found very useful and I thought so to, so I made one of those first. It wasn’t a construction article at all but he did give dimensions, so with that in mind in the fall of 1987 the first year of my business I built this.

I’ve used it ever since. Two years ago I was helping install a deck on a 100’ boat so I put it to work and it saved a lot of on and off the boat fitting of pieces. It drew many comments and a few pics and I wouldn’t be surprised if the are a couple around the boatyard now.

But the real bench of the article seemed to elude me, I just didn’t seem to be able to put the time aside to build it. Plus I wasn’t sure how to put it all together, as I said there were no details. In 2014 I had a bit of a lull at the shop and I had long since squirreled away the wood I would use. So I started with the base.

Then the “legs” and front and side panels. The top was mortised for the legs and finally the back compartment wall was worked out.

And that is were it sat till early this spring when I dug it out again, determined to finish it. Like the original two small drawers were dovetailed together. I finally figured out the drawer runners and they work great.

Still more to do, and still sorting out the tools that will travel in it, so those installments will follow. Still have to make a proper vise screw.
I just wanted to get something out there on the 80th anniversary month of the article.
This current bench on bench, small bench craze is not new at all.


-- Jim, Mid coast, Maine home of the chain leg vise

4 comments so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

20050 posts in 3649 days

#1 posted 04-30-2021 03:52 PM

excellent. I made something similar about 30 years ago.

Click for details

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Boatman53's profile


1081 posts in 3278 days

#2 posted 04-30-2021 10:23 PM

Thanks Don. This definitely has been a head scratcher. As the author said it is harder to write a telegram than a letter. Because this thing is so small it is a challenge to figure out where everything will fit.
I like your project also.

-- Jim, Mid coast, Maine home of the chain leg vise

View AnthonyReed's profile


10171 posts in 3522 days

#3 posted 05-02-2021 11:59 PM

That is so slick Jim!

-- ~Tony

View Boatman53's profile


1081 posts in 3278 days

#4 posted 05-04-2021 02:48 PM

Thanks Tony. It’s been a fun and challenging project.

-- Jim, Mid coast, Maine home of the chain leg vise

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