Using Planes Without Bench

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Forum topic by mision56 posted 04-10-2017 09:22 PM 1770 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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56 posts in 1183 days

04-10-2017 09:22 PM

Hi All,
I have been experiemnting more and more with hand tools but lack the space for a large stable/heavy bench to serve as an anchor for this kind of work. All of my working benches are by necesity on wheels and are lightweight and I’m curious if anyone out there has good, small footprint/portable options for setting up a vice and being able to hold down pieces while planing/chiseling/scraping?

I am lucky enough to have a cabinet saw, so I do on occasion use that as hold down area for planing, but it’s obviously less than ideal.

Any plans/tips are appreciated.

20 replies so far

View JayCee123's profile


200 posts in 1368 days

#1 posted 04-10-2017 09:31 PM

A vice on at the work top is a good start. Try attaching two angles to the mobile table top. Roll the table against a wall and run a couple of screws thru the angles and into the wall studs. When ya need to roll the benches “back” just take out the two screws and roll away.

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2089 days

#2 posted 04-10-2017 09:35 PM

Solid outfeed table table?

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16324 posts in 3222 days

#3 posted 04-10-2017 09:38 PM

I second the suggestion of finding a way to run a table against a wall (or even into a corner) when working with hand tools. Several LJs have effectively used a Workmate for planing… they didn’t like it, but it worked. Necessity is the mother of invention; you’ll come up with something that works OR find a way to build and house a suitable bench.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View gargey's profile


1013 posts in 1379 days

#4 posted 04-10-2017 09:44 PM

Hard to get something to act like a workbench without being a workbench…

View Texcaster's profile


1286 posts in 2277 days

#5 posted 04-10-2017 09:45 PM

I’m going to build a quickie bench for a mate’s son, using this hardware. The bench is a morning’s work, butt joints and batten screws for everything. You could of course make it nicer. I took this bench to the Ukulele class I taught and the participants gave it heaps, no worse for the wear.

bench link

Uke Shed bench

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View MikeUT's profile


198 posts in 1963 days

#6 posted 04-10-2017 09:57 PM

Chris Schwarz wrote an article in popular woodworking called ‘Milkman’s Workbench’ that could be a good solution. Search that term in the project section and you’ll find a few clever variations. I made a version of it when I saw it and found it pretty useful. I didn’t made the clamp and vise sections out of threaded wood, I used a 3/4” threaded rod and made a wood handle I attached to the end. It’s not a perfect solution but it works good enough to keep you over until you decide to make a dedicated space for using your hand tools. Here is the article by Chris.

View bandit571's profile


24359 posts in 3287 days

#7 posted 04-10-2017 10:30 PM

Maybe….have a piece of plywood/mdf/whatever. Add a cleat under it, to keep it from sliding across the saw’s top. You can add a cleat at the other end, thinner than the stock you would be using a plane on. You can clamp this plane stop to the saw’s top, with enough overhang out to the side to allow you to do a bit of hand plane work.

When not needed, you can just hang it up on the wall.

If you need a different cleat/stop to hold a piece still, you can just add it to the plane stop. It can hold most jigs used for a plane, or it can be rather empty. How wide and how long to make this is up to you. Maybe add a cleat to attach the plane stop to the saw’s fence, using a couple clamps?

At one time, all I had to work with was a back porch railing or two. Worked for a lot of years, just using the top of an old contractor’s saw, that was also my shop’s main saw.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View LDO2802's profile


167 posts in 1034 days

#8 posted 04-10-2017 11:04 PM

Maybe a bit in left field, but you could take 2×4’s and make a square, then put holes in the sides that accommodate clamps. Put it on the ground, clamp the workpiece in and then put your knees on the edge and plane away from you. (Trying to think outside the box here) Get it? LOL

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 3600 days

#9 posted 04-10-2017 11:27 PM

Here is a portable saw horse vise that works
Wont break the bank building it.
Doesnt take up a lot of room

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Dan Wolfgang's profile

Dan Wolfgang

176 posts in 1411 days

#10 posted 04-11-2017 01:03 AM

Finding a wall to plane or chisel in to will go a long way towards giving you a stable place to work, as others have said. My experience with a lightweight bench against a wall has still been quite unsatisfactory, however. I’ve found that vigorous planing, chiseling, and sawing would rock the lightweight work surface around, and between seeing a little movement and knocking against the wall I was frustrated!

View Just_Iain's profile


305 posts in 1020 days

#11 posted 04-11-2017 03:56 PM

How about some 4×4 or as appropriate material under your mobile working benches (to lift wheels off the ground) with some sand bags to add mass? Would that be an option?

-- For those about to die, remember your bicycle helmet!

View waho6o9's profile


8812 posts in 3180 days

#12 posted 04-11-2017 04:04 PM


View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 3600 days

#13 posted 04-11-2017 04:26 PM

waho6o9. This is not mine ! This is something I want to build . I just thought it would be very useful out of the shop

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View JayT's profile


6356 posts in 2814 days

#14 posted 04-11-2017 04:40 PM

Here is a portable saw horse vise that works
Wont break the bank building it.
Doesnt take up a lot of room

- canadianchips

That looks familiar for some reason. ;-)

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16324 posts in 3222 days

#15 posted 04-11-2017 04:49 PM

And I was looking at a rather crazy vise / clamp doohickey that’s in my shop and thinking, “Hey, it just might work as an end vise on my saw bench!” Great ideas never die, JayT.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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