I’m not ready to start a new project just yet. So the remainder of my holiday weekend shop time was spent making a few accessories for the new bench and trying out a couple of new joints.
In Mike Siemsen’s YouTube video, “Work Holding on a Viseless Bench“, he demonstrates a couple of accessories for work holding. One is a doe’s foot batten and the other is a vise chop that utilizes holdfasts for the clamping action. The doe’s foot batten I first became aware of after watching another video presented by the English Woodworker. If I remember correctly that video caused quite a sensation. A simple notched stick that adds so much utility to planing when combined with a holdfast. I wonder just how many things like this have been lost to time? Anyway, there is also a blog post by Chris Schwarz in which he advocates, upon the recommendation of Jennie Alexander, adding non-abrasive tread material to the batten. This lessens the chance that the batten will move when cinched down with the holdfast. Chris also advocates making the battens from hardboard, but I had a few strips of 1/4″ birch plywood lying around and made my battens from that.
The next addition I tackled was the “vise” chop. Yet again a simple thing that adds a great deal of utility. Basically just a board that rests on pegs instead into the apron of the bench. You then use holdfasts to provide the clamping power. I had a piece of 1-1/4″x6″ white oak handy and made mine from that, but just about any board would work. A piece of scrap is inserted at one end that is the same thickness as your intended work piece. A holdfast is cinched down on the scrap end leaving the opposite end somewhat free so that you can insert your work piece and secure it in place with a second holdfast. Works great. I cut a scrap of 1/4″ and 1/2″ plywood and hung them from a string. Since most of the material that I’ll be clamping in this chop will be 1/4″, 1/2″ and 3/4″ my spacer needs are pretty much covered. If your work piece is of sufficient width to span between the holdfasts, you can forgo the scrap bits.
There are two joints that I have been wanting to try and to eventually work into projects. One is a mortise and tenon variant that has a dovetail shaped tenon and is secured with bypassing wedges. The other joint is a half lap variant that has mitered corners. I’ll try to work up some drawings on these two joints and go a little more into detail as to the layout and execution, but for now I just want to show them to you.
First up is the mortise and tenon variant. I was surprised at how easy this joint was to layout and cut. My first attempt came out pretty well, but needs some improving. Especially my bypassing wedge execution. This is a very strong joint when assembled and you will see it in future projects for sure.
The half lap variant didn’t go nearly as well. Layout was not that big of a challenge, but execution was a different story. In my first attempt I tried sawing the diagonals and that didn’t work worth a damn. I ended up with huge gaps. Surprisingly, even this sloppy looking example is fairly strong.
When you fail, try again. For this try I chiseled/paired all of the miters. Far from perfect, but much better than the first one.
With all the layout planed out of the way.
My time in the shop yielded a few tidbits of productivity this weekend. Plus I was able to put the new bench to work.