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27 March 2016

Vice and the Cult of Woodworking

I am absolutely knackered... in a good collapse-into-bed-and-sleep-like-the-dead sort of a way.

This weekend I've been sorting out my garage in preparation for embarking on some projects over the Summer. I've taken four car-loads of crap to the tip with another waiting to go! At the same time I've been putting together my new workbench and this is what I'm going to talk about today. I think that I'm in love!

I've found all sorts of things this weekend squirreled away in the dark recesses of my moldy garage. Take a look at this unfinished picture that I started sometime in the late 80s. I wonder if I'll ever finish it?

I was going to build my own bench as a warm-up project but when I started to research how much it was going to cost me I had second thoughts and started to look around for kits. Everything I found was either too fancy or too flimsy. There didn't seem to be any sort of budget workbench kits in-between. That was until I stumbled across this picture on ebay. A car on a workbench!

How did the car get onto the workbench? Did they ever get it off again? I simply don't know the answers to these questions.

After much thought and a few beers I decided that I just had to have one of these "super" benches.

The workbench I bought in the end was supplied by Wells Timber Products. I chose the 4 foot pine model with wood top. It came in 4 pre-assembled parts:
top, 2 sets of legs, and a shelf. It couldn't have been any easier to put together, but I had my eye on pimping it before I'd even unwrapped it.

Here I am using my new home-made clamps as I fit blocks to the bottom of the legs to make enough room to fit the castors.

For a start I wanted it on castors so that I can easily move it around my garage. Having fitted them however, I can say that it wobbles a bit, so we shall see how long they last.

The workbench stands 35 inches (without the castors) which is about the height of a kitchen top. Mine stands higher still on top of the castors. I wanted a high workbench so I don't have to do too much bending over. So far... so good!

I hadn't even put it together and I was onto my second modification. See the vice in the picture. Yep!

I was desperate to have a vice fitted into the workbench. I've been researching how to do it all over the internet and having now done it I can say that I took no advice and made it up as I was going along. It has been a roaring success.

As you can see, I started by cutting a slot for the vice to fit under the top. I then cut a groove into the underside of the bench-top to slot one of the vice plates. 

Here it is all screwed into place. I wanted to fit some wooden clamp covers but my garage light blew and even I'm not crazy enough to table-saw in the dark... 

I mentioned that I took a load of crap to the tip. You won't believe this!

I was chucking some wood into a trailer and I spied something. "That looks like a small guitar," I thought to myself as I reached for it. Hey hold on a second! It was a bloody mandolin! It was in the car before you could say Bill Monroe. It's got all it's original parts. The nut is busted and it's missing a fret-dot, with scuffs here and there, but other than that it is perfect! I've wanted a mandolin for the longest time!

I'm going to refurbish it. In fact, I might have ruined it already as I test out some epoxy on the back. Ha ha. Let's wait and see how it goes. I'll do a post or 10 on it later.

From what I can gather it is an Eros M1, made in Italy in the 60s. Who in their right mind would throw this away? I'm glad they did! ;-)

This is how I left the workbench last night. Purdy, isn't it! 

And here it is with the wooden clamp covers fitted. I split a block of pine similar to the sort the bench is made out of. One half went on the outside plate and one was shortened and fitted under the lip of the workbench top. It took me ages to get the two to fit smooth, but it gave me a good chance to hone my planing skills in the process.

I've read that it is best to taper the outside wood block so that it is thicker at the top and thinner at the bottom. Apparently this allows the vice to grip tighter. I chose to ignore this advice and kept the blocks flush with each other.

I've been using the workbench all day today. It is absolutely brilliant! I don't know how I survived without one before now. A huge shout-out and endorsement for Wells Timber! 

I almost forgot!

Did you see this wonderful video from Daniel Hulbert of Circuits and Strings? He's only gone and invented a retractable travel ukulele! Amazing!

I have a guilty secret... I have been moonlighting as a voice-over "artist". Daniel was looking for an English accent on his latest video and well, I have one. I asked Daniel what style he was looking for and it seems that he didn't want a mumbling Yorkshire accent. Shame... I could have aced that. Instead, I put on my poshest voice and enunciated every last vowel and consonant. Mrs Uke didn't believe it was me. Well... it is! Ha ha. As quick as the voice-over work started, all offers have now dried up. Damn!

Great ukulele though! Great work Daniel.

Until next time...

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