Yet another workbench (with chain and linear bearing)

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Project by JonasB posted 08-27-2015 06:30 PM 23883 views 32 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I decided I needed a good workbench for my “new to me” space and decided to customize some traditional designs. It has some features I have not seen before, so I thought I would share my “thinking and doing” in a forthcoming blog. My workspace is small. I could not fit a long bench. A short bench (51” x 27” x 35.5”) means planning forces have a bigger impact, so I decided to use canted legs. This also helps with clearance under the table for an end vise. I don’t like the way a vertical face vise looks on a canted leg, so my vise is also canted. Besides aesthetics, I felt this would give me a little more clearance underneath for clamping long items vertically. Another goal was that the bench be easy to disassemble and the component pieces light enough so that one person can manage them. If I ever move I don’t want this bench stuck in my old workroom.

The component assemblies are: legs, top and lower shelf. After I built it, I realized that these components are dimensionally amorphous. The legs and shelf can be any size you want and any relationship between them is a design decision. I chose to make the shelf size the same as the top to create clamping opportunities. The leg footprint is also the same size for stability. The shelf could be narrower or shorter to give you an overhang. Even the two leg assemblies could be different dimensionally if you need a trapezoidal table for some reason. (i.e. back legs wider then front legs). Want the legs canting front to back as well? Only the half-laps in the legs for the shelf need to change to the desired angle. The shelf is attached with carriage bolts secured from twisting by torque washers on the face side and a nut and lock washer on the back. I ground the rounded head of the bolts flat (look a little like elevator bolts when done) and buried them in a recess in the front of the leg. A wooden plug hides this hardware. The top has two parts made from 4 quarter sheets of plywood with thick edge trim and is secured to the legs with lag bolts making it a key part of the structural integrity of the bench.

I made my own face vise screw hardware from my junk pile and Ebay acquisitions. Probably the most unusual feature is that I combined a linear bearing system with a chain system. I originally intended to use the linear bearing as a pinless racking parallel lock, but I did not like the way my preliminary tests at using it for this worked, so I added the chain mechanism. I think the chain is a great way of keeping the face vise parallel and the linear bearing in conjunction with the screw keeps everything level and runs smoothly. By accident I came up with a nice keeper combination. The hardware adds a little cost, but the ease of install is really nice. No mortises, tenons, or slots, just 3 holes for the linear bearing and 3 holes for the chain (+1 if under the shelf).

The screw is DIY and, instead of using a bearing to keep things level like some of the commercial units, I went with an overlong 1” screw riding in a 1” pipe that spans the distance between the front and back leg. This gives me a huge clamping distance, but mainly the pipe keeps the screw from sagging. The face vise works just like I intended and I am very happy with the resulting operation.

I added a quick release Ebay end vise and some ornamentation and am ready for my next project.

Five years later I finally added my mobile base as described in my blog.

Future todos: deadman.

-- Jonas

12 comments so far

View woodcox's profile


2386 posts in 3231 days

#1 posted 08-27-2015 07:12 PM

Great job on making it your own Jonas. Your vise wheel is pretty sweet! What does the face vise screw thread into?

-- "My god has more wood than your god" ... G. Carlin.

View waho6o9's profile


9055 posts in 3796 days

#2 posted 08-27-2015 09:29 PM

That’s a fantastic bench, congratulations!

View bobasaurus's profile


3734 posts in 4403 days

#3 posted 08-27-2015 09:36 PM

That front vise is amazing, well done. Where did you pick up that hand wheel? Is the bench super stable when planing now? I might have to use a few of these ideas.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View JonasB's profile


18 posts in 2272 days

#4 posted 08-27-2015 09:39 PM

Will explain in detail on the blog, but I welded a nut to the back of a 1” pipe flange. I could have just JB welded them together and used a hex hole to hold the nuti, but I bought an HF flux welder and this was an opportunity to use it. The nut is recessed into the back of the leg and the flange is screwed down. A 1” pipe is screwed into the flange and is used to support and keep the screw level. I used a 1” acme scew and nut I got on Ebay to put this together.

-- Jonas

View Diwayne's profile


265 posts in 3909 days

#5 posted 08-27-2015 11:38 PM

Good job. Looks great.

-- What one man can do, another man can also do.

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 3088 days

#6 posted 08-28-2015 01:04 AM

She’s a beauty, Jonas. Thanks for letting us see!

Love that leg vise and the chop. Very cool design.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View drewpy's profile


1074 posts in 2576 days

#7 posted 08-28-2015 02:49 AM

I want one!! Looks fantastic. Great work, Jonas.

-- Drew -- "The greatest wealth is health".

View LeroyTheLips's profile


248 posts in 3466 days

#8 posted 08-28-2015 03:28 PM

I love this bench. Nice size. Nice design. Nice job!

View CL810's profile


4167 posts in 4207 days

#9 posted 08-28-2015 03:36 PM

Great work Jonas – looking forward to the blog

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View Mosquito's profile


11256 posts in 3511 days

#10 posted 08-28-2015 03:58 PM

That is an excellent looking bench! I really like the idea of a pipe as a full-length guide bushing for the leg vise.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View JonasB's profile


18 posts in 2272 days

#11 posted 08-28-2015 06:18 PM

The handwheel is something I picked up on Ebay many years ago for a project I never got around to. It has been an “in my way nuisance” until I decided to use it for this project, now it is rare find. The green man face is a decorative element I added to hide the screw inside the wheel and just for fun.

The 1” inch screw and a 1” pipe cry out to be fitted together. The ID of the pipe is 1.097, just right as Goldilocks would say. BTW, a 3/4” pipe OD is 1.05. I intend to use this combination in the future when I need some sliding jigs.

-- Jonas

View RussJohnson's profile


57 posts in 3041 days

#12 posted 08-30-2015 12:02 AM

Super sexy workbench. You need to do the “bondo” pose.

GIS Bondo Bench Pose

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