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Thread: Knock down staked Roman workbench. Am I CRAZY??!!

  1. #1

    Knock down staked Roman workbench. Am I CRAZY??!!

    I really want a brutally simple, low Roman workbench. Mostly for fun. But I also have some expected home carpentry projects on the distant horizon so there would be some practicality to having a bench I can put in a room and go to work without having to run down to the basement woodshop every 5 minutes. That said, I have limited space in the multi-purpose basement so I need to be able to store this thing flat up against a wall and totally out of the way. And to encourage actual use of the thing, I need to be able to haul it out and slap it together in 2.5 seconds.

    My thinking, which might be highly flawed, is to make a simple staked bench where I can just knock the legs out. One possibility is to ream the holes and taper the legs, but just donít wedge them in; that way I can knock them out. The potential downside is that it might be difficult after the first couple uses to get the legs to sit level on the ground. Another option would be to NOT taper the holes/legs and just leave a shoulder on the legs. Of course, this could lead to them loosening over time and starting to wobble a bit. However, if they are splayed and raked, then does it really matter all that much? I mean, the rake and splay I would think, with body weight, prevent the whole thing from wanting to rack or wobble. Or perhaps Iím underestimating the forces involved.

    Maybe both of these options really suck and someone has a better idea (other than building a mini Moravian Ė Iíve ruled that out). I should add that I have a pole lathe so in a worst case scenario a few years down the road if I had to make new legs, it would not be a problem.

  2. #2
    I think I would just build a thick top saw bench, to be used as a saw bench in the shop and a small bench around the house.

    I have built a small roubo style bench that I put on top of my regular bench, move around the house, use as a saw bench or a shaving pony. It is as useful as it is heavy.

  3. #3
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    The potential downside is that it might be difficult after the first couple uses to get the legs to sit level on the ground.
    That is where a set of these would come in handy:

    Leg Levelers.png

    You might want to search for ones that have a swivel base at the bottom.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. #4
    Jim, that's a good idea.

    Although, it made me realize, if the legs get off I could just shove a shim under one leg. My basement floor is uneven so my split-top roubo has a shim under one leg to compensate. And my old workbench now resides in our garden shed, which has a slightly wonky floor, so it has a shim under one leg too (just like when it was in the basement, although a different leg now!). So if I’m two for two on shims under legs, there shouldn’t be a problem going three for three!! And just as I’m writing this I’ve realized that no matter where I put the bench, the floor will not be perfect so there will probably always be a shim no matter what.

  5. #5
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    Shims are a good solution for this.

    Just remember to keep a few with the bench legs when you take it to a different site.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  6. #6
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    So this idea added to your idea migh really be crazy. Iím not sure what your interior decor style is, nor do I know how compatible your taste might be with others in your household. I would call our style casual, eclectic. So if it where me, Iíd be tempted to make a Roman workbench that doubled as a sofa table, coffee table or kitchen table Or hall bench. Something that I could use as a workbench in the house when needed, but otherwise has a place in the house. Because I know I would rarely want to carry a heavy slab up the stairs so I could assemble legs for bench work and theN de-iassemble it to move it out of the way.

  7. #7
    Chris,

    I'm a broken record but I am what I am. I do not have a photo of my portable Moravian stacked in a corner of the shop on this computer but if you are interested I'll dig one up later. Bottom line what you describe wanting is just what I do with one of my Moravian benches. each piece is light and easy to carry to where the bench is needed and it takes just a couple of minutes to put together and break down. Once set up it is a fully capable work bench with vise, dog holes and stable as my shop benches.

    It is easy enough to set up and re-store that I will do it for even very short jobs, much easier to take the bench to the work than the work to the bench.

    ken

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe A Faulkner View Post
    So this idea added to your idea migh really be crazy. I’m not sure what your interior decor style is, nor do I know how compatible your taste might be with others in your household. I would call our style casual, eclectic. So if it where me, I’d be tempted to make a Roman workbench that doubled as a sofa table, coffee table or kitchen table Or hall bench. Something that I could use as a workbench in the house when needed, but otherwise has a place in the house. Because I know I would rarely want to carry a heavy slab up the stairs so I could assemble legs for bench work and theN de-iassemble it to move it out of the way.
    This post is another example of why this website would benefit from a like button. I was thinking, yeah, just build a saw bench for little stuff, you can drag a staked sawbench from the downstairs shop to the upstairs site pretty easy and have the legs properly wedged in, but this man right here, Mr Joe A Faulkner, is a brilliant human being.

  9. #9
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    Sawbench?
    saw bench.JPG
    Have a seat....or..
    sawbench set up.jpg
    Sit the tools and supplies on, or..
    saw bench with mitresaw.JPG
    Set up a mitre box on it, to cut the trim for around a doorway....

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Joe A Faulkner View Post
    So this idea added to your idea migh really be crazy. Iím not sure what your interior decor style is, nor do I know how compatible your taste might be with others in your household. I would call our style casual, eclectic. So if it where me, Iíd be tempted to make a Roman workbench that doubled as a sofa table, coffee table or kitchen table Or hall bench. Something that I could use as a workbench in the house when needed, but otherwise has a place in the house. Because I know I would rarely want to carry a heavy slab up the stairs so I could assemble legs for bench work and theN de-iassemble it to move it out of the way.
    Joe, that is not crazy at all and I would totally do that. But my wife would consider that CRAZY AS F*#@. And that would make me a crazy married man.

    There is another reason for the knock-down legs besides just out-of-the-way storage. We have a side-split house and it can be very tricky getting big stuff around some of the corners at the bottom or top of stairs. Navigating those turns without legs on a 6ft+ low bench I know will not be too difficult by myself (I'm planning to make the bench from doug fir, so it will not be too ridiculously heavy). But I know that if it had legs permanently attached, it would be quite the endeavor.

    The more I've been thinking about it, the more I think unwedged tapered mortise/tenon is probably the way to go. I've got some off cuts of construction lumber I might try making a stool from as a test run of the idea and see how it holds up without wedging. I gotta make a reamer first though.....

  11. #11
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    I recall I have done a similar thing. https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....removable-legs

    I am overall happy with it. I will make longer legs for it when I get around to it. But I have't put any real lateral force on it. I don't know if it would hold up to sawing, and am not at all confident I could plane on it.

    I am done using BORG softwood for staked legs, even well seasoned with no runout. It just isn't strong enough. Once I calculated the board foot price of BORG softwood I scurried over to my local hardwood emporium and haven't looked back.

    I do have the tapered reamer and tapered tenon cutter from Lee Valley here. I got my first tapered tenon about 3/4 of the way done on my shaving horse with draw knife and spokeshave (stunningly straight grained hard maple) and bought a lathe. My current priority is to get the lathe integrated into my shop space.

    Sounds like we are on parallel paths, look forward to your results here and future threads.

  12. #12
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    Chris,

    This may not work at all for you, and it is very much of a "make do" situation, but the old carpenters solution to that same sort of problem is one or two 2X10 or 2X12 planks on a couple of saw horses. I have worked on such starting back in early 1970s when I worked for a carpenter, and on and off ever since, in fact that is what I work on now. The horses do take up space, however. Your shim method is almost mandatory for that sort of set up unless you often set up in the yard like I do.

    Another "make do" is a couple of pieces of particle board or MDF glued together, to make a more stable surface, with a piece of 1/4" Masonite glued on the face. If weight is an issue, you can use 3/4" ply instead of the MDF. You can stabilize things quite a bit by just having a couple of 3/8" bolts mortised into the top and through the top 2Xs of the horses. You remove the bolts from the top to move the set up, and secure them with wing nuts to fix the top in place. You can even cut a piece of 2X and put it in the ply/MDF boards to have a place in the top you can drill for hold fasts. The hold fasts greatly increase the set up possibilities.

    This type of "work bench" is super quick to set up and put into service. To edge plane you clamp a straight and square 2X2 to the top with clamps, and then clamp the lumber to the side of the 2X to hold it upright. Quick grip clamps are wonderful for this. To plane a surface, clamp a batten across the bench for a stop and then nail a board (or clamp it) to the top to hit the side of the planed board, etc.

    Clamps and wood blocks are your friend for such a set up. I have both a small (3") and large (5") vise set up on boards that can be clamped to the bench top.

    Carpenters have used such a set up for decades, maybe even for centuries. It is quick to set up, easy to haul somewhere, simple to store and does not take up much storage space. With some clamps and jigs, etc., you can do a lot of stuff on it. Is such a setup as good as a real bench....nope, but it does work, and has a lot of flexibility with the right set ups.

    Stew
    Last edited by Stew Denton; 11-26-2020 at 4:49 PM.

  13. #13
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    Perhaps a crazy suggestion, but would a 3 legged bench work. After all, 3 points define a plane so an uneven floor shouldn't be a problem. As long as the user is sitting on it their weight and legs would steady the bench. Without sitting on it, maybe not so good.

  14. #14
    Chris,

    I got around to taking a current photo of the stored bench. It takes longer to dig it out than the time needed to carry the bench parts to where needed and put it together. Will Myers has a video of him putting the bench together is less than a minute, I'm a little older and slower .

    portableBenchStored.jpg

    ken

  15. #15
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    Chris, keep us posted as to what you build in the end. Certainly it can be done and as suggested by some, saw horses and small fixed benches can be used for similar purposes, in the end all require some storage foot print. The knock down bench might be the most compact. I have two of these and love them for carpentry applications. And they are useful for some rough dimensioning work as well. But I would not want to adapt them for planing, mortising, or dove tailing. And they do not break down for storage.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Joe A Faulkner; 11-28-2020 at 12:10 AM.

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