Moravian Bench Reimagined #2: Why A New Bench Now

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Blog entry by MagicalMichael posted 09-20-2019 09:13 PM 492 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: My First Blog Part 2 of Moravian Bench Reimagined series Part 3: Build Which Bench »

I am very fond of my workbench. It is an old friend, and like all old friends I don’t dwell on their shortcomings. I have spent many, many happy hours with this bench and have learned many things (i.e. have made many mistakes while at it.) It has served me well and when I finally decided to build a new bench I assumed I would build another Scandinavian bench, probably modeled on the Frank Klauz bench rather than the Frid. My early workmanship left much to be desired, but still the bench lasted 35+ years. The design has some shortcomings. It is too narrow for me. At some point I removed the tool tray, replaced it with maple board and hung the tool tray off the back. That has made it much more useful. The shoulder joint is a bridle and was a problem from the get go. I pinned it, then added a metal angle iron to shore it up. The shoulder vice then worked quite well and I love using it. I have relied upon the tail vice & bench dogs a great deal but pretty much only used the opening in the tail vice to hold drawers for final planing. Eventually the end vice started to sag and has become increasingly problematic. But the critical failure appeared as the two lag screws which hold the shoulder in place began to wear out the maple end grain of the bench top. I gave a lot of thought to the idea of simply rebuilding the vices, but as I pondered that I realized that my back hurt and I wanted / needed a taller bench.

But that thought created another problem as this bench sat under a window and directly in front of my General 350 table saw. If the bench and saw weren’t very close in height, one or the other would have to be relocated. I looked at other places for the saw and none pleased me, plus the hassle of running another 220 line put me off. Just about three years ago I decided to move the bench to another window. That required moving some built in cabinets, but I was OK with that.

About this time The General gave me a gift, sort of, in the form of my third experience with table saw kick back. The saw has no splitter and the casting made adding an aftermarket splitter of any kind impossible. The first kickback, a long time ago, hit me in the thigh and knocked me off my feet. That was a learning moment. The second kickback went by me harmlessly. The third kickback went through the picture window behind the workbench. This was a gift because it made the purchase of a new SawStop an easy sell to my wife.

Life is never simple. Once I got the SawStop in place I discovered that the out feed table didn’t fit. It was a half inch or so too tall and the miter slots wouldn’t line up. It too was 25 years old, woefully under built, and took up a lot of useful space. I needed to build a new out feed table.

I wanted something sturdy, with storage underneath. Then decided to add a leg vice at the far end and a built in router table. This lead to buying the plans for the Benchcrafted Classic bench, making a few modifications, and turning it into an out feed table – planing station – router table. I went with the Lake Erie screw and they featured it as bench of the month in May of ’17.

You can read more about it here:

This has given me time to experience a leg vice. It’s great for quickly edge planing boards and good enough for working the ends of boards but not as good at that as my shoulder plane. The sliding deadman is a big plus.

One big draw back to a leg vice. They are way harder to build that a shoulder vice, at least they are if you install scissors with them. Lining up the routing slots, the pins, the hole and the nut installation takes much longer and demands much more precision. In hindsight I see it was a waste of time & money as everything that has gone into the vice has been between 15 & 45 MM. A parallel guide looks easier to me and would have worked just fine in my work.

Now I have built the out feed table and some handsome cabinets to hold everything that has come out of the old cabinets and am about to start my new bench build, just three years after making the decision to do so!

-- michael

2 comments so far

View surrywood's profile


26 posts in 787 days

#1 posted 09-21-2019 09:56 AM

Very interesting Michael. I am not in love with the leg vise maybe because I have never used one and I suppose that the folks who do use them regularly swear by their practicality, but one thing I find that I need for planing the faces of boards is some type of tail vise, and I have always liked the type you have, I guess it is a European type, but I have also heard many say that it does sag over time (I too have sagged over time).

So if you are used to that tail vise configuration, do you have something in mind for the Moravian that will provide the same service?

View MagicalMichael's profile


150 posts in 1028 days

#2 posted 09-21-2019 02:46 PM

I’m going to get to that, Maybe in my next post or the one after. Stay tuned. There’s a whole research project and chronic indecision to explore. It will be some form of wagon vice, probably with the HNT Gordon tail vice but maybe still I’ll adapt the Hovarter. Will Myers makes an end/wagon vice for a moravian but is back ordered a few months.


-- michael

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