Workbench accessories… Pt. 1

Soon after completing the Moxon Vise project and creating the illustrated drawings, build steps, images, video… I decided to work on a few other workbench accessories.

Workbench accessories – any workbench add-ons that facilitate the holding and clamping of boards or panels. Boards or panels can be mounted on their edge and along their length. You get the idea…

Workbenches can be large in size, massive in weight and beautiful looking but their ability to hold and clamp boards is one of their most important criteria. So holding or clamping a long, wide board along its length can be a challenging tasks of a workbench. In an earlier workbench I incorporated a sliding board jack that worked in conjunction with the face vise. This has and continues to work well since I had built this workbench from the ground up and allowed for the addition of the sliding board jack. With two of my newer slab-type workbenches, adding a sliding board jack was much more of a challenge. I did not want to modify the workbenches or drill screw holes through the tops. Adding an apron or skirt with dog holes along the length of the workbench top was an option, but this involved modifying the workbench itself.

Enter the portable board jack. I designed it to easily attach to the underside of a slab-type workbench top where it serves to support the free end of a long plank or board. It can either be left attached to the workbench or removed when no longer necessary. It can also be moved across the length of the workbench, relocated to the opposite side of a workbench, or moved to another workbench. The nice part is no modifications are necessary to the workbench.

After a period of testing, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it works. It is completely unobtrusive and designed to accept standard 3/4 inch or 20 mm accessories such as surface clamps, bench dogs and shop-made planing stops. The portable board jack can be adapted to any slab-type workbench top without an existing apron or skirt as can be seen in the images. A face vise at one end keeps the board securely clamped on edge. Jointing the edge of long boards has become so much easier and second nature to me now.

The hole arrangement on the portable board jack is optimized for the work I do but can be modified if necessary. I no longer give any thought to attaching or clamping a long board on edge and along its length to my workbenches. Often, I simply need a peg to be able to rest the free end of a board on. This allows me to quickly and easily flip the board around to work both long edges.

Now, I just selected my most-often used side of a workbench to work on and leave the portable board jack attached. In the future, I will possibly be creating another board jack for my other, similar workbench. This adds to the versatility since it will no longer be necessary to move the board jack from bench to bench.

Next up in the forthcoming installment or Part 2, a couple of cool bench accessories  that continue with the theme of attaching and clamping long boards to a workbench. These are boards that are too long to simply clamp to a face vise. It just makes it so much more pleasant to perform handplaning or hand tool tasks once a board or panel is securely clamped. I like for this to be straightforward so I can focus on the task I need to perform instead of spending needless time on securely attaching and clamping a board to a workbench.