Building a Portable Bench for the Neville Project

The very first consideration when working off-site (such as at a museum) is how to transport a functional and HEAVY woodworking bench.  This is a problem for most of us, but NOT if you know a master craftsman named Don WIlliams.  I posed the problem to my friend Don Williams ( Donsbarn.com ) and he offered to assist ( well actually lead ) the building of a new portable LIGHTWEIGHT workbench. Wasn’t long and I was on my way down to Don’s Barn in Virginia to build a bench. You can visit Don’s Blog at   ( http://donsbarn.com/2014/07/ ) for details on the building of my bench.  My blog will cover my efforts to enhance the bench after I brought it home.

When I returned from Dons there were additional items that I wanted to add. High on my list was a storage shelf. The shelf had to be light, ( the whole intent of the bench after all) but yet very stong.  I followed Dons lead and build a torsion framed shelf. Using an internal torsion frame provide incredible strength but has the advantage of being extemely light.

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Here’s the shelf made of an 1/8″ plywood torsion internal frame. See the 1/4″ top skin next to it

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Here is a close up of the internal torsion frame which is simply notched 1/8″ plywood that you cut on the table saw.

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I wanted the plywood bench to appear as a solid wooden bench. SO after the shelf was completed, I re-sawed some figured beech and attached the thick beech veneers to side of the bench with hide glue.  The veneers really gave the bench a “heavy” solid wooden look.

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I painted the legs and supports of the bench black with my handy Home Depot $1.00/can enamel paint. The legs were simply made of pine. BTW you can see the torsion shelf at the base of the bench.

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I also found a roll of cork, at the local hardware store and glued it to the plywood top The cork was a great addition as it provides a very nice mar-proof surface and hid the plywood top. While I was at it,  I also waxed a portion of the cork. ( on the right in the photo).  The waxed cork gave me a very nice stain free surface to mix shellacs and stains.

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The legs and supports are hinged so it all folds together.

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The bench, all closed up and ready for transport to the museum. Notice the tapped holes to add the light weight vise when time permits.

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Using the bench at the Neville Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Note the heavy solid piece of MARBLE has no effect on the bench top.  Wow.

 

 

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