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 ( ) 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   ( ) 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.


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


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


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.

Portable Bench

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.


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.


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


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.


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.



Kaap’s Booth/Candy Counter Restoration

I am well on my way to restoring the Kaap’s Candy Counter and Seating Booth At the Neville Museum in Green Bay.  The project began in July but, oops, no blog then so  I’ll try and catch you up.  To begin with, Kaaps is a very historic Green Bay restaurant that everyone born in Green Bay and older then 40 visited.  Below are a couple of pictures below of Kaaps in the early 1940’s

Downtown Green Bay 1941 .

Kaap's Restaurant Green Bay

Kaap’s Restaurant Green Bay

At little history…… Kaap’s Restaurant began as an accident, rather than owner -Otto Kaap’s desire to run a candy shop. In 1909 Kaap worked as a teller in the Bank of Green Bay while playing drums in the Bijou and Orpheum Theater Orchestras in the evenings. In an effort to attract a trumpet player from Oshkosh to the Orpheum Orchestra, Kaap invested his savings into relocating the man to Green Bay and assisting him in opening a candy shop. Within a short time, the man’s business failed and Kaap took over the shop in an effort to save his investment, despite having no candy-making experience of his own. The shop was first located at 125 Main Street where Kaap spent nights after performances making candy for the following day. After about a year, Kaap moved the business to 211 Pine Street to save $5.00 a month on rent. At this location he expanded the business with a small ice cream parlor. In 1914 he moved the business to Washington Street, where he was able to add sandwiches to the menu and begin a Tea Room. These expansions required more space, for which Kaap provided by purchasing the Slip Allen Saloon next door, and later, Grunert Jewelry. By 1964 the candy shop, bakery and restaurant occupied two stories and had a staff of more than 100 people. The store finally closed when the Greater Green Bay Urban Renewal Project decided to raze Kaap’s Restaurant, along with other downtown businesses, to make room for the Boston Store in the late 1970s.

Ok, so the project is to convert these original parts – into an actual booth.

Kaap's booth parts

And then there is the Candy Counter – which looks like it is in better shape, but it’s not. :-)

Candy Counter

Candy Counter

Most of the restoration is being done on-site with the public welcome to watch and ask questions.  A first for the museum and a first for me.

S1110006Neville Museum

Next Post I’ll bring us back to July ( and a little before then) on how the project began