|A while ago I wrote a blog entry about sawing dovetails and the main jist of it was about sawing uphill to slice through the wood, not downhill into the endgrain which gives jerky cutting. The problem with this of course is that the average workbench is too low to saw a dovetail uphill unless you bend over and hunch. This of course is hard on the back. A solution can be found in Moxon's (and other early writers) double screw vise which Chris Schwarz has written about extensively.|
Another issue with cutting dovetails and in fact any fine work is that as I get older I'm finding harder and harder to see anything. The Moxon vise solved the closeup problem for dovetailing but not for much else. A better solution can be found in in Jeff Miller's Bench-on-Bench which was first published in Fine Woodworking back in 2005.
Miller's solution gives you a small table to clamp your work vertically or horizontally and this greatly expands the use of the bench.
The Philadephia Furniture Workshop has taken the design further and added a camber to the jaw so that it's far easier to clamp something rock solid in the vise, and holdfast holes so that horizontal work is easily gripped and the holes can also also be used for dogs, screw clamps, etc. They also created a much simpler base for the bench to sit on, and it's easy to create several bases for work at different heights. The clamps are modified veneer screws which won't pinch your fingers. Read the full description here along with a link to the instructions and a sketch for making a base.
As you can see in the picture the concept is pretty simple. The top is made of thick hard maple butcher block, and the whole assembly is very solid. In the picture above I'm using the bench to hold some wood while I demonstrate sawing for another blog entry. We use the bench a lot for fine work too and the holdfasts of course make clamping work to the top a snap.
One of our customers suggested another application which has become a personal favorite of mine. A lot of people don't use hand tools much. I know - it's hard to believe but they don't. They use power tools and some of them have lots of Festool tools. One really useful application of the Bench on Bench is as a hand-tool friendly accessory top for a Festool Multi-Function Table. The MFT tables are great for power tool usage but as a hand tool surface they aren't really set up very well. We use the B.O.B. in concert with the MFT table because instead of the MFT table collecting junk while I do hand work, I get another useful workspace. It's also a great accessory for someone transitioning to traditional work, or for someone who only occasionally needs a tradition bench (at a nice height too).
PS- we are out of stock on holdfasts right now but we should have them back in a couple of weeks.
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