Portable Bench Build (Part 1) Design Considerations

In my shop I have 4 work surfaces within about 4 steps of each other with 3 walls to hang things on behind them. It’s a unique space and works pretty well when I don’t let the clutter build up on the benches. So why am I considering another work bench?

I need a portable work bench and now I’m on a timeline to complete it. I need it functional and transportable by March 15. Ugh! While timelines can be annoying, they can also be a driving factor to get something complete. I will be using the bench on our spring trip to Gulf Wars in Mississippi. While there, I will be doing a fair amount of teaching and need a good work surface. I will also be using it at future SCA events, as well as woodworking shows and demos.

Required criteria for my bench:

  • Small enough to fit in the bed of my truck when broken down.
  • Stable enough to plane across a board not to tip over.
  • Heavy enough not to be sliding around during typical use.
  • Friendly for different clamping methods.

Things I want in my bench:

  • Leg vise, as I have been told that once you get used to it, its the only vise you really need.
  • An end vise, this will allow for what I envision as a great plane making space.
  • Square bench dog holes inline with the end vise for surface clamping.
  • Holes in appropriate locations on the surface for holdfasts, again for surface clamping.

As for materials, there are a lot to choose from for various reasons. I am going to use materials I already have on hand, to help clean off some of my shelves in the shop. The material is 3/4″ x 13/16″ oak that I have been hording for 8 years. Despite the large amount of glue up, it will be a good use of the materials.

Next to do some drawings and come up with some dimensions.

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