Bench slave, board Jack, dead man (blog)

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Blog entry by mafe posted 04-09-2021 04:46 PM 853 reads 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Bench slave
board Jack, dead man.

From time to time we could all need a helper, but luckily the slavery is over, so we will go for a dead man… naaaaa that’s too morbid, well a board Jack then, somehow that must be the most political correct name these days, but I do like the sound of a bench slave, it’s kind of a mix between pirates and SM, laughs.

I got tired of putting stuff under my boards when planing, so it was time to look into history, to make my self a helper.
I actually made a bench slave before, but it was made only for long boards and used the tail vice to hold it, so it was not movable, finally it was a wee flimsy and I wanted something solid.

Let’s go ChristMads tree…

Here you have it, the bench slave supporting the board back end, front end is held in the shoulder vice.

I’ll say it again, this is a proper workbench!
But look at the image and see if you can recognize something else…

Once again some recycle, local carpenters had thrown some construction timber in the street, I picked it up and ran it over the table saw.
It’s roughly 5×5cm / 2×2inch.

After a blade change, I could cut some to length, so we can make the foot.

Making a quick and clean lap joint by making repetitive cuts on the table saw.
Yes I should have used my kerfmaker, but honestly I hardly ever do…

Perfect fit by eye.
Do you feel lucky punk…

Drilling a hole through it all, a size smaller than the tenon I want.

Chisel out the rest, go slow, enjoy the process.
Clean up sides by paring and make the bottom a wee bigger than the top, app 1mm on all sides.

I just love to work here, with some good music, today Callas La Boheme and ofcourse razor sharp chisel, that are regularly stropped.

To make the through tenon, I measure the hole I made and again make a series of repetitive cuts, then clean up with a shoulder plane.

Drill through from both sides.

Saw to the hole.
This will make the wood avoid splitting any further when wedging.

Now push the pole in, it should be a tight fit..

So here you see it from the bottom, as you can see the sides are loose, due to the fact we made the bottom of the mortise bigger.

Just for joy, the sides are getting a saw cut, also you are less likely to fall over them.

Small blocks are cut.

Glued on to the bottom.
With historical correct brat nails…

Cleaning it up, chamfering the edges.

Now the pole are cleaned up and chamfered.

Next up I drilled holes and here chamfering the edges.
I had some beech rod laying in the shop, so this were planed and sanded to fit the holes tight.

Drillin a hole in the beech stops / rods.

Rounding them over.

Hardwood wedges are made.

Time to glue up the ChristMadstree.

Kept under tension for app an hour.

The pole can get some glue.

Foot on pole and wedge hammered in.

Wedges hammered in, notice I made them so big, that they also go into the food a wee bit for strength.

Cleaned up.

Here we have it!
A slave or Jack, but I don’t think it looks dead…

Branding for the joy of it.

The pegs get a leather string, for joy and to make it easier to pull them out.

Finally we can start some planing and I love it.
One of those projects we should make on the day we buy the bench, not ten years after…

Better late than never, so I’m a happy monkey now.

Hope it can be to some inspiration, hopefully not a dead man… especially now with this Covid

Best thoughts,


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

9 comments so far

View lew's profile


13357 posts in 4839 days

#1 posted 04-09-2021 04:56 PM

Looks like the images are not showing up again- at least for me.


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

View BillGo's profile


171 posts in 218 days

#2 posted 04-09-2021 05:02 PM

Confirmed. The images are missing. I just read your other blog and the images were fantastic. None on this post though… :-(

-- Bill - in New Hampshire

View mafe's profile


13188 posts in 4173 days

#3 posted 04-09-2021 06:13 PM

My fault, gave them a wrong extension…
Should be there now.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View MikeB_UK's profile


396 posts in 2119 days

#4 posted 04-09-2021 06:39 PM

Nice job Mads.

Another thing I need to make, never thought of a deadman not attached to the bench.

-- Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

View lew's profile


13357 posts in 4839 days

#5 posted 04-09-2021 07:44 PM

I definitely need to build one of these! Thanks for the inspiration, Mads!

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

View Doug's profile


1247 posts in 3845 days

#6 posted 04-09-2021 08:57 PM

Thanks for posting this. It’s always good to have multiple ways of holding or supporting the work piece. Simple solutions like this seem to be the best. Take care.

-- Doug

View mafe's profile


13188 posts in 4173 days

#7 posted 04-11-2021 08:01 PM

Hi guys,
Doug, Thank you. Clamps and supports are the extra hands we always seem to need.
Lew, I will look forward to see your go on it. Thanks.
MikeB_UK, Funny enough, I think that’s where he started, before someone gave it an attachment issue, like the rest of us… Laughs. Thanks.
BillGo, thanks, hope you came back and saw them…

Best thoughts,

Shop helpers…

A wee morbid link for workshop tools, that might support the dead man title.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Brit's profile


8324 posts in 3927 days

#8 posted 04-18-2021 06:01 PM

Very nice job Mads. So nice to see you working in your shop with all your wonderful tools around you.

I need a bench slave, you know someone to clean up after me. I’d give them some bread and water once a day, after all I’m not an animal.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View mafe's profile


13188 posts in 4173 days

#9 posted 04-18-2021 09:55 PM

Laughing big time Andy, yes we all need one of those, especially if she wears Prada…
Right now I’m back in the allotment, to some spring gardening and find my inner peace, as I seemed to have forgotten it down here. last time I were here.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

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