Mini-workbench Mk. II

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Project by LittleBlackDuck posted 02-11-2019 03:20 AM 2161 views 9 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Boys and Girls,

The jury is still out as to which group I belong to… more shekels than I confess to the taxman or less brains than I brag to my kids about.

I have belatedly inserted this next paragraph for late comers…
The mini-workbench is not intended to compensate for a bad back though it does save me bending over a normal height bench and may be a great health benefit in the future. It is moreso intended to bring the work piece(s) closer to my failing eyes. With my new prescription bi-focals, the standard benchtop was just out of focus of either lens while the mini brings it into focal range. The bench can/is removed when I need to do standard workbench practices (like laying out… my lunch).
You may notice an elevated tabletop with 20mm dogholes in some of the pictures… same reason. I still use the loupe headband to keep track of the hairs on my palms.

Last September (2018) I was at the very disappointing Timber and Working with Wood Show in Melbourne and out of sheer frustration from the presenters and content, I purchased this H & T front end vice,

I won’t post the link to the WEB site in case I lose a few readers through cardiacs due to the realisation of my sheer extravagance when confronted with the RRP.

But where do I put it? I already had this H & T Gordon purchase,

from a previous brain freeze countless years ago. I planned to put it at the end of my old mini-workbench
which I built circa June 2016. Now this workbench has been a gem and has served me well so I was hesitant in making a new one, however, the old one was heavy as it was out of hardwood and the vice was steel. I planned to make the new one out of lighter pine and the vice is aluminium… and why not add that shiny tail vice to complement this shiny front vice.

Didn’t Sketchup this one as I had the basic measurements and design from the first one (self flagellation will follow).

Other than the vices, the major differences between the two was,
  1. Use pine instead of hardwood to minimise weight.
  2. Used my UKJ Parf jig for exact placement of the dog holes rather than manual matrix layout.
  3. Used wood threaded 10mm stainless hex head bolts instead of coach bolts and nuts.
  4. Used 6mm metal bolts with wood threads rather than screws for breakdown purposes… (done before my Domino purchase after they released their “new” breakdown hardware).
  5. Provided for using Rockler Universal Fence Clamps rather than bulky C/F/G type clamps.

Down to the workshop and laminated 2 finger jointed pine planks (can’t remember original dimensions) to give me an exact 40mm x 240mm x 1047.4mm tabletop. Exactly 1047.4mm you may ask… and I reply… well, as I plan all my projects, that’s the length I finally finished up with, so I’m insisting that that’s what I actually designed. FYI, the bench stands 200mm high (and of course 1047.4mm on it’s end).

Glued some packers for the vices , marked the bolt positions and dragged it of to the drill press… figuratively speaking of course as being made of pine it didn’t have to be physically dragged.

I clamped the workbench to to the drill press’s top, but as the press’s spindle couldn’t be move, I found it a tad easier to add an extension plank,

for ease of allignment,

Drilled 6 guiding pilot holes.

Confirmed hole position and marked the bolt length/depth,

Drilled out the pilot holes with a 7.5mm drill bit to tap for 10mm bolts at a later time.

Hogged out the recess for the tail vice and then added a packer as the vice was thicker than the tabletop,

Usied SketchUp (can’t stay away from it) to design and laser cut a cover plate for the tail vice,

Using the UKJ Parf jig’s rulers, I marked out the dogholes and drilled the required 3mm pilot holes,

Then followed the instructions (ugh… reading) and bored the 20mm holes using the 3mm pilot holes, the jig and a 20mm TCT forstner bit,

Made the legs and glued and bolted the support base (bolted to get better strength with 6mm x 70mm bolts using the wood threader),

The cylinder barrel of this vice made it easier to cut out the leg recess than the awkward shape for a “standard” vice. Tried using the method of cutting with the kerf on the edge to provide dust extraction relief and when I realised the hole had to be centered, I made another leg and used the relief hole principle.

Drilled some 8.5mm holes into the legs to permit using Rockler Universal Fence Clamps for securing the mini-bench to a supporting surface,

(DOH! I had spare pictures)...

Drilled and tapped 6 holes to accept 10mm bolts. Ratcheted in the bolts and tested squareness and operation. I then soaked the bolt holes with tung oil and when it came to the final bolt insertion, I had to use a pneumatic gun to seat the bolts as the buggers were fighting back against a manual wrench.

Fitted the tail vice with the cover plate,

The tail vice comes with a profiled brass dog,

with the following four faces,
  1. Flat face.
  2. Slightly concave face for rough surfaces.
  3. Slightly convex face for contoured surfaces.
  4. The fourth face is reserved for thrillseekers that want to shape their own unique face,

One of the features of this tail vice is it’s movement. It comes with a small textured knob at the end which exerts incredible pressure with the minimum amount of force. Just two finger tightening will mar the wood if you insist on using brute force on the work to prevent any form of movement.
Couple of pickies of it in use,

Now the main vice (called main to avoid confusing this tail vice with the tail vice… I think I may have called it a front vice but I’d have to read to find, confirm and correct it) does not come with an onboard dog like most vices, to permit clamping against dog(s) on the table top,

Being too gutless to drill holes into my shiny new (and expensive) vice I hit SketchUp seeking a solution. It didn’r say much, but eventually I finished up designing a cover box and laser cut it after allowing for profiles to fit the curves of the vice,

I provided a pseudo-dog on top of the box to press against the work… DOH! The top of the box (out of 6mm MDF) naturally sat 6mm above the vice top (approx. 5mm above tabletop as the top of the vice is about 1mm below tabletop) so this extension was unnecessary,

It shall stay there until it really pisses me off and then there’ll be a circumcision (snip).

There have been times when I need to clamp non-parallel bits of timber,

For which I have made up this beveled jaw backing which pivots on a dowel,

that fits into a same diameter groove down the main tabletop “jaw”,

For wider timber, I simply use the box with just one round dog in the middle of the tabletop for the brace. No picture provided as the non-parallel stunt timber refused to put on weight for just one photo shoot.

These Rockler Auto-Lock T-Track Hold Down Clamp have been customised to permit static fitting to the tabletop,

and can accommodate various thicknesses of timber without adjustment,

I also use these quick adjustment “clamps” to wedge long pieces of timber without the need for bulky clamps,

The bench also provides a resting place for a spare Ryobi battery,

for those times I’m too lazy to walk 2 meters to get another spare.

If you look closely, here is the resting place of the old mini workbench.

Now, as always… most of the time… only when I do it… for all of you that also hate reading… grab some popcorn, put in the ear plugs and don the sleep mask before you try to connect to this video I made so you don’t have to read the above.

PS. If you found the read boring and the video tiresome, save wasting your time on the above and check out
this animation of this mini workbench in SketchUp.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

15 comments so far

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6069 posts in 3146 days

#1 posted 02-11-2019 05:56 AM

Impressive build.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Dutchy's profile


3683 posts in 2906 days

#2 posted 02-11-2019 07:42 AM

Man man what do you have a stuff, but honestly I really would like to look into your cave and see what you have which we can’t see. Thanks for sharing if only it was simply because I never had seen such a beveled jaw.


View Bill Berklich's profile

Bill Berklich

1086 posts in 1126 days

#3 posted 02-11-2019 12:04 PM

Really nice bench with a lot of outstanding features. I like the way you have it attached to your bench and the various holding devices. I love HNT Gordon tools – though I have a couple of shoulder planes I usually can’t afford them. The Wagon vise by Gordon is sweet but the Face/Front/Main Vise… wow. What a beautifully machined set of parts. I like the way it is integrated into the bench too. As usual, great work well thought and executed.

-- Bill - Rochester MI

View robscastle's profile


7089 posts in 2942 days

#4 posted 02-11-2019 01:08 PM

OK nice gear there Mr LBD.
Now your opening statement had me ready for some more questions straight up.
But as I had never seen or heard of the HNT tools before I decided it would be best if I went looking for myself.
This is what I found:-
The tail vice is, depending on the length about $250 to $285
The front vice is about $640.

So they are certainly up there with it.

-- Regards Rob

View pottz's profile


9502 posts in 1722 days

#5 posted 02-11-2019 03:17 PM

well once again an over the top presentation and build from the never dissapoint.too bad RC spilled the beans on the cost,hopefully it doesn’t peak the interest of the taxman or worse,the misses find out how much money you spent-lol.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View Dee1's profile


359 posts in 2627 days

#6 posted 02-11-2019 03:44 PM

Love the video However after watching I feel I needed a nap you wear me out ? Love your accent . I spend a little time in your wonderful country thanks to the USN back in the 50’s and truly fell in love with your people and country could not get used to going to the beach at Christmas time though.
Great shop and I am in envy of your new Vice. I love gadgets also
Thanks for a great Video

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 4072 days

#7 posted 02-11-2019 04:16 PM

I’m not sure I like your projects LBD. They always make me feel inadequate with your exacting precision. Sure, I would like to have that wonderful bench and those high quality vises, but I couldn’t envision ever putting it together as well as you have. Maybe you should be doing aerospace engineering work instead and leave us mediocre woodworkers feeling better about ourselves.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View bushmaster's profile


3938 posts in 3020 days

#8 posted 02-11-2019 05:57 PM

Very interesting and great build photo’s, I take it that was very expensive. Super quality, you did it justice.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


4493 posts in 1558 days

#9 posted 02-12-2019 02:40 AM

.... some more questions straight up…. if I went looking for myself…. (and the $$$ rest I refuse to mention)...
- robscastle

An ungrateful thx rc... (see below and get ready to shop)!

....hopefully it doesn’t peak the interest of the taxman or worse,the misses find out how much money you spent-lol.
- pottz

Yeh pottzy, that Mr. rc has let the saber-tooth out of the bag!
If the taxman gets me first I hope rc will bake me a cake with a file in it and post it to Barwon.
If the taxman is having a siesta and the missus hears it first, please post me a BIG high end bolt cutter to attack the chains of my caged dog house.

.... I take it that was very expensive….
- bushmaster

Thx bushie, I’m a self funded retiree, no way rich but will fess up to not struggling.
Unfortunately when I go into a tool shop I instantly metamorphosize in Dr. Jekyll. Like a woman in a shoe shop, all sense of reality and value of money vaporizes into the either and that BBOP (Bloody Bit Of Plastic – called the VISA card) permits another ”ridiculous” impromptu purchase… then all I have to do is cut back my vino consumption to one cask a day for a month or two.

I believe procrastinating over some expensive tools will only harbor nightmares and ulcers. After an impulsive buy, I just suck it up and convince myself that its too late to grieve and go and somehow pay for it.
I do have an overabundance of this activity, however, in all honestly there are none that immediately come to mind that I later regret and after using the tool, if it ever broke down (yeh I do forget to question it’s justification if it does break) I wouldn’t hesitate to replace with the same… or it’s dearer upgrade. I can’t say that for many of my cheaper purchases.

.... us ”mediocre woodworkers” feeling better about ourselves….
- stefang
stefang, it’s only the wonderful tools thet permit me to keep pace with the ”mediocre woodworker”!

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View swirt's profile


5113 posts in 3709 days

#10 posted 02-12-2019 02:41 AM

Wow! That bench on bench is over the top. Thanks for the detailed build photos.

-- Galootish log blog,

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


4493 posts in 1558 days

#11 posted 02-12-2019 05:23 AM

Wow! That bench on bench is over the top. Thanks for the detailed build photos.

- swirt

Txh swirl, literally over the top (of the normal bench). I just added a addedum (in italics) at the top of the blog. Rather than add it here, it explains the underlying reason for it.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View therealSteveN's profile


5588 posts in 1312 days

#12 posted 02-12-2019 05:42 PM

Bad back, failing eyesight, whatever. I used to call these Old Fart bench toppers. Now that I am a card carrying member of the society I can see all too well their necessity.

You Sir have set a standard here, and have removed the competition from simple shop fixtures, to objet d’art. Plus you have done this while leaving a very nice blueprint of how to roll your own.

Awesome post, please take a bow. Thanks for sharing, and doing it in such a complete manner.

-- Think safe, be safe

View robscastle's profile


7089 posts in 2942 days

#13 posted 02-13-2019 10:40 PM

Busted ! I found something else which I missed on the first pass it that Alladin’s cave of yours LBD
that being the UJK Parf System!... and weighing in at wait for it …$279.00 AUD wow some piece of kit there buddy.

I also did some more ferreting around, I was looking for a TSO MTR 18 Precision System Triangle but maybe you have it hidden somewhere.

It just dawned on me ….Remember that wallet I lost in your workshop some time ago?

Now I know where all the loot went! Peter Parfitt has possibly retired after your/our buy up!

A very impressive set of tools!

-- Regards Rob

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4835 days

#14 posted 02-13-2019 10:42 PM

Beautiful bench. Thanks for sharing.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


4493 posts in 1558 days

#15 posted 02-14-2019 12:38 AM

Busted ! ..... I was looking for a TSO MTR 18 Precision System Triangle…..
- robscastle

You had me going for a while with the TSO as I do have a TSO GRS 16 hiding behind a cupboard,

then you whet my interest in ths TSO 18 but I realised I had my MitreSets,

that could do somewhat similar functions (using my tablesaw mitre guage) in a more convoluted way.

Back to the UKJ Parf System… not all purcahes are a total hit… in fact some are a bit of a flop… I purchased one of these Woodpecker layout jigs,

and was very disappointed… the Parf system urinates all over it… though I suppose it’s a costed better than nothing with manual layout.
Just as an FYI. In its defense, your honour, its tolerance is probably determined by the precision of the guide bush you use… it’s the 20mm holes that were not as tight as the PARF’s.

Yes I have a lot of gadgets and expensive equipment, however, it’s those precision gadgets that permit this hacker to try to come up to the standard of experienced woodworkers… and if it doesnt improve my job it makes it much easier… After all when you compare 1st class and economy air fares… you tend to get to your destination at the same time… but one is in comfort.

Nevertheless there is a cost for my extravagance… I haven’t had a go-away holiday since 1992 when I gave up skiing…. the missus travels but I REFUSE to fly, so I spend my share on tools and an OS trip can but a shitload of GOOD expensive tools.

Now I’m taking my bat and ball and going home.

PS. Now I know why you want your wallet back so desperately… every time I open it, a new $500 miraculously appears. You must have mistreated it… each time I empty it, I throw it away but it jumps straight back into my back pocket!

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

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