Mongo: my first real workbench #6: The right tools for the job... even if you have to make them.

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Blog entry by TheRiflesSpiral posted 04-12-2017 06:45 PM 1516 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Completion of the ribs and a start to the aprons Part 6 of Mongo: my first real workbench series Part 7: There's no turning back now... »

I’m a big believer in having the right tools for the job; I’m a process engineer by trade and in my experience the analysis of any given task/process invariably reveals a substandard or nonexistent tool for completion… this bench is no exception.

When my attention turned to laying lines for the legs and aprons where 90° was no longer my reference point, I realized I was going to be relying on angle/miter gauges for accurate layout. As I mentioned before, I’ve never really got the technique down for using adjustable angle gauges for this purpose… maybe it’s because I have a short attention span or that I’m not terribly delicate with my handling of tools… whatever the reason, I find these tools fall short in my hands more often than not.

I remedied that last week when I made this:

The legs of my bench are Moravian in design, canted 18° from vertical toward either end. This is perhaps overkill in combination with the apron but I just love the look of them despite the complexity they add. Take the photo below for example…

The topmost portion is a tenon, angled at 18° from the outer face on the ends. The portion that protrudes from the bench top can be cut with a flushcut saw but should be roughed first so I can mark a position. This step alone requires 4 lines at 72 and 108 degrees in addition to 3 others, 2 at 90 and 2 at 72 degrees. In addition to the tenon, a relief for the outermost lower ribs must be marked, also with 72, 90 and 108 degree lines.

Those all have to be very accurate so why not make a purpose-built tool, provided you have the means to do so?!

We recently purchased a 30W CO2 laser cutter/engraver from Universal Laser Systems to do some custom engraving. It was my project to start with so I had to sit through all the mindless marketing drivel that really had no relevance to our application but hey… I learned that you can cut cast acrylic with a beautiful flame-treated edge and engrave as well.

I’m still learning the ins and outs of this particular machine; the cutting table is a honeycomb patterned expanded steel which causes a bit of reflection (ricochet) back to the piece, which causes some defects along the edges. This can be remedied a few different ways but really it’s just learning how the manufacturer recommendations differ from what works in your application.

The piece at the bottom is a scrap of walnut I had laying around and I finished it with a coat of Paste Wax. It’s a one-time use tool so I didn’t want to put too much effort into it, but I’m also pathologically incapable of half-assing things. :)

I’m fairly certain this tool will make an appearance in my next update, where the legs finally get the attention they deserve.

-- Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

2 comments so far

View Rich's profile


6766 posts in 1638 days

#1 posted 04-12-2017 07:30 PM

I like how you made a dedicated tool. A laser cutter/engraver is in my future, so it’s nice to get some ideas like that for using it.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View TheRiflesSpiral's profile


18 posts in 1481 days

#2 posted 04-12-2017 09:12 PM

I’ve got a few more layout tools in mind. A dovetail guide for one… a magnetic bevel gauge for my plane iron and chisels… yeah… the list grows!

-- Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

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