Ruminations, Philosophy, and Workshop Antics.......... #26: Preview…Minibench Makes Minibench…is this Self Propagation?

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Jim Bertelson posted 06-30-2011 11:42 PM 7374 reads 2 times favorited 32 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 25: The Secret Lumberjocks Auxillary ASSEMBLY MISADVENTURE Part 26 of Ruminations, Philosophy, and Workshop Antics.......... series Part 27: The Unproject...Destruction with a Purpose...Shop Space............ »

…Progress on the TarBall Quartet


The TarBall is a quartet of interconnected projects, one leading to the other. I will review this, since the Minibench only makes sense in context.

The four items:

1. Super Sled
2. Project Table top (with slots for hold downs, pedestals on the other side, it is reversible)
3. Minibench Base (a more robust base for the heavy Project Table top)
4. Robust dust collection and outfeed table for my TS.

The first 3 are basically done except for a couple details, and are in use now.


1. It started with my Super Sled, which is in heavy use, but still lacks a guard. It has miter arms done, and all works well:

In the process of making the miter arms, I decided I needed a better way to hold things while I routed them, so…
2. I made a reversible project top out of two thicknesses of ½” MDF, a complex project. While making the project top, I figured out how to do the miter arms on the router table from a magazine article. So here is the completed project table top, originally configured to fit on my very old and not so robust project tables. It is reversible with rout through and cut through pedestals on the optional side:

Normal side with demonstration:

Pedestal side with demonstration:

3. I quickly decided this was a very valuable item and really needed a much more robust base, the minibench.
4. …but before that, I thought I should complete my TS dust collection project. Well, getting into that about half way, I decided I was much too inefficient, so I needed some nail guns. Got those, and then decided to put them in the base for the project table top. I now started calling this a minibench.

I then halted the TS dust collection and started the minibench base, which is now almost finished except for the cord keeps.

So now to the real purpose of this blog:

This blog is a preview of the Minibench. It will be presented as a project soon, when everything is absolutely done and the compressor and guns are in place.

All elements of the bench were designed in Sketchup and followed quite faithfully.

1. Hold the project top, with its numerous slots for t-bolts to attach jigs, and its reversible pedestal side for through cutting and routing.
2. Hold the compressor, 3 guns and a blower all attached at the same time, and the nails.
3. Electrical connections for various hand tools and the compressor.
4. Operations such as planing, sanding, routing, glueups, etc. This required it to be mobile, stable, and sturdy.

The nearly complete bench from the front, without contents:

The nearly complete bench from the back, without contents:

Building the Minibench

Materials – This bench is built out of cheap plywood and stud lumber. Never again. But it is done.

Construction – Glued, with Titebond III, and I mean everything that could be glued was, and nails. I started out using the top in an old project table rickety base, and as soon as I could, started using the minibench, to build the minibench…(-:

Finish – WATCO, medium walnut because it blended in the filler and blemishes better than clear or dark walnut.

Features Added During Construction

Along the way, I decided the top could be used for a downdraft table, especially if something covered part of the holes. So I incorporated that.

General Description
There is a open box like structure on the top to house the reversible top. The top has its movement controlled by wooden studs. There will also be leveling screws that selectively engage depending on which side is up.

Leveling and Moving – There are 4 leveling bolts one on each leg. There are two wheels on the front side and two on the right side. By lifting the bench from the back, or the left, you engage one of the sets of wheels so that you can move it. I estimate it will be well over 300 pounds with everything in it. It is extremely heavy without anything in it!

Engineering – I built it to be strong, rigid, and heavy. It has way more wood in it than required just for strength. The piers at each end are a lattice of 2×4’s, including the legs that extend up to the bottom of the box. The lattice is sandwiched between pieces of ¾” plywood. Everything is glued and nailed. The piers are probably much stronger and more rigid than a piece of solid hardwood of the same size. The bottom and top are also overbuilt but not to the extent of the ends.

Compressor Compartment – The compressor has a compartment in the base, nearly sealed for noise control. There is an external switch for the compressor. There are two receptacles in the box connected to the switch. One may be used for a light. There is a round air entrance in the bottom, under the compressor, for sound control. There is a sound shielded slot for the hoses at the top over the shelves.

Storage and Stowing -Four shelves for the hooked up nail guns, blower, and four connected hoses, and there should be room for the nail packs.

Electrical -The table is electrified with 4 receptacles on each end. The wires run internally out of sight in the top frame of 2×4’s, and through the hose port to the compressor compartment. The cord that connects the bench to a source is very heavy duty 14 gauge, self-supporting, meaning it can be used for over head connections.

Access – There is a big access door in front for the compressor, and a small door in back to access the tank bleed. These doors use friction bullet catches. You open them by pulling on the edge, no knob required.

Dust Collection – There is a removable manifold, meaning removable without tools by sliding it off of its bolts, to convert the 4 inch round section of DC hose to a rectangle of the same area, so as not to compromise the strength of the box, and to maximize air flow.

…Now for the Fun, Building and Using the Minibench

Here I have the beginnings of the bench setting on one of my old rickety project tables, that has the completed MDF top on it. The plywood was warped, the studs were warped, and I did not joint anything. I just adjusted as I went along. Here you see me planing a leg.

Here I am planing the 1/8” pine trim I used to edge plywood. I tried the No. 4 Veritas, but quickly reverted to the Veritas block plane for better control. The No. 4 caused some tear out in the veneer since it couldn’t be controlled to the same extent as the block plane. Notice I am planing on the minibench at this stage.

Here I am gluing and nailing on some trim, using the minibench and some fixtures. Have a bunch of these things already made. The bench is great for glueups, nailing, etc.

I am sanding one of the shelves, note the DC manifold in place using the minibench as a downdraft table.

Working on the manifold, glueup and nailing.

Here is a detail of the manifold. The piece of wood you see the blast gate extruding through holds with very strong spring action. I think this is a novel approach, I blogged on it in the past, and now use it routinely. If anyone wants to know how this is done, let me know. It is an extremely easy way to interface wood objects and dust control stuff.

Doing neurosurgery on the minibench, notice the blood on the floor (kinda looks like sawdust) and the instrument table at the right.

Now attaching nerves to the brain………….(-:

Notice the knock down project elevator that the bench is sitting on, to bring it up to working height for the electrical. I have to do a few refinements to the project elevator, and then will present it as a blog or project. Very useful and flexible. Built a lot of helpers along the way here.

Well, that’s all folks, until I get home, put the cord keepers on, and put in the compressor, etc. Then I will post it as a project. If you wonder about the surgical references, let me tell you, this project took on a life of its own. It definitely has a persona. When it is complete, I’ll have nbeener help me name it, because he won’t read it unless it has a name………(-:

Considering “Medusa” as a name…..........(-:


I will probably blog in more detail about some of the features, as well as post it as a project. This is one shop object that deserves a place as a project.

Thanks for stopping by………

Alaska Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

32 comments so far

View degoose's profile


7279 posts in 4321 days

#1 posted 06-30-2011 11:52 PM

You made all this and still had time to photograph and blog about it… wow…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4131 days

#2 posted 07-01-2011 12:09 AM


No, I didn’t have time to blog about it, until I got to La Conner and became a drunken degenerate. I am experimenting with different life styles for retirement…..........this one looks pretty good!

I took the pictures off and on…........think about it…......this has probably been going on for about 3 months, although I interrupted myself for a bunch of minor shop projects to help along the way.

Even Sherie would walk through the garage and say…...when are you gonna get through with that thing?

It is a very useful and unique device designed just for me. It would be probably classified, by those intellectuals into those things as…......weird..........(-:

Two issues….....should have used quality dimensional lumber and good plywood, would have speeded it up. The other is that it is totally unique, and so had to be designed, and there were no instructions along the way. That part couldn’t be speeded up.

I love that it is almost done. And I have been using it to build itself. Self propagation…....or incest…..?!?.........(-:

Thanks for stopping by Larry….......

Like I said, it will be a project and a more formal blog. Lotta design details in there.

Alaska Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10955 posts in 5018 days

#3 posted 07-01-2011 12:19 AM

I like the way you got multiple purpose out of the Table Top…

I guess the slots go all the way through the top? ... a 1” top?

Maybe you have the slotted 1/2” top, spacer of x”, other 1/2” top section of MDF?

Bracing stips in there somewhere??

Very good!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4131 days

#4 posted 07-01-2011 12:46 AM

The top is a full 1”. The slots go all the way through. Looking at the flat top, you might wonder about its strength because of the long direction slots, but the pedestals bridge those long slots and add strength.

Pretty cogent inquiry. Yes, I had to think of strength with all those slots. I look at that top I made many months ago, and realize I put a lot of work and design into it. And the pedestals are glued down onto the underneath layer and on their sides as they pass through the top layer. Way over done. Way over engineered.

In other words, I built that thing separately in terms of layers.

It is a very useful item….....but I think I could have done it a little easier now….....hmmm…....or not.

You doing fine? How are things? Hope you are enjoying life…it is a pursuit…and more difficult as we get older.

Alaska Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View lew's profile


13272 posts in 4721 days

#5 posted 07-01-2011 01:53 AM


Sure wish I had space for something like this. I really like that top with the variety of hold down options.

I’m glad to see I’m not the only one that has a Makita 9v cordless drill.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4686 days

#6 posted 07-01-2011 01:56 AM

Man, ther is alot of stuff in there, and most of it I could use in my shop. I like the mutli purpose nature of the table, all the hold downs, the extra “hands” to help glue ups, the reversible top. Thanks for the inspiration and sharing.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4131 days

#7 posted 07-01-2011 02:31 AM

That top is great, it solves problems all the time.

Yup, holding onto to that 9V Makita…bought couple of new batteries for it a couple of months ago. It is getting to be almost sentimental. Sharp eye, Lew.

We are going out for Thai food tonight…kinda joining 3 guys who passed the hat and bailed out this Thai family operation a while ago. This small town is just like joining a new family.

Connections form very fast…..really interesting.

Hey, still got to talk a little more about pizza….(-:
.......the important stuff…...(-:

Have a good evening. Listening to ‘70’s music on cable…....looking out the window….....


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10955 posts in 5018 days

#8 posted 07-01-2011 02:36 AM

Very good Jim…

I’m doing OK for the shape I’m in… LOL
Overwt, with diabetes under control, trying to lose wt… down to 231… want to get to 190… LOL Which I think is an impossible DREAM…

I was wondering how narrow the space was in order to make a good sanding draft table… Do you end up putting waxed paper over unused slots to increase suction near the sanding?

Just finished up a couple fancy Cribbage boards… trying to get some Videos done on them… A bigger job that I thought it would be… Will post’em when I’m done.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4131 days

#9 posted 07-01-2011 02:37 AM

Well, let me tell you fellow LJ, this thing was some where between a mission, a pursuit, and a destiny. It may nearly have been the death of me….....(-:

.......definitely not a trivial pursuit…........(-:

Thanks for stopping by….have a brother-in-law with your issues. Keep at it, keep active…best of luck…...we all need that.

Alaska Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4131 days

#10 posted 07-01-2011 02:44 AM


The slots are about 3/8 inch. I use the piece I am working on, and any other board around to cover slots. I will make a dedicated hardboard piece for it, store it in the compressor space. I have have a good DC, so I do alright.

Gad zooks, cribbage board…...I go through spurts of activity with that game, separated by decades of nothing. Couple of years ago was on an extended cruise, 25th wedding anniversary event, and played a lot of cribbage with another fellow. Used to play a lot with my Dad.

Haven’t got into video yet…...just not enough time. Well hang in there and get healthy, you got a lot of stuff to do in life!

Have a good evening, thanks again for stopping by…......


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4081 days

#11 posted 07-01-2011 02:46 AM

I started to wonder if we ever had the update
but sure is good to see your other small project get execised
together with you onless you try to impress us with the smoother ….. LOL

take care

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4131 days

#12 posted 07-01-2011 02:48 AM


........................................all about the smoother….....................................................(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10955 posts in 5018 days

#13 posted 07-01-2011 02:51 AM

OK, Jim…

Thank you…

Stay warm… Have a good one!

Hey, do you ever go out and Pan for gold?!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4131 days

#14 posted 07-01-2011 02:54 AM

I pan for gold the hard way… work…’s a lot more reliable. The family has an old gold miner’s cabin, for about 35 years, right near gold country.

.......but none of us have ever panned for gold…........(-:

Try the end of the rainbow…..........(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4081 days

#15 posted 07-01-2011 03:04 AM

talking about Smoothers
this rare GTL is knocking on my door first in next week together with a stanley No. 3 for my duaghter

you can read a little about them here just scroll down


jewlry in the mail….. LOL

showing 1 through 15 of 32 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics