Introduction: Folding Portable Workbench With Quick Release Vise

Picture of Folding Portable Workbench With Quick Release Vise

The origin of this project was that I saw an April Wilkerson woodworking YouTube video where she made an endorsement of the Rockwell JawHorse as a great gift for anyone who was a woodworker. Given that both my father and brother are also woodworkers and I was looking for ideas of what to get them for Christmas, I thought "Ah ha! Perfect!" ... until I looked at the price and saw that buying two of those would blow out my Christmas budget. Okay, no problem. I've still got some time. I can probably make a sawhorse with a built in vise.

The first thing I did was to do some research on what other people had done (why re-invent the wheel, right?). I did find a lot of cool sawhorse plans, but didn't find anything that also included a vise, but I did get the general idea of how to go about building one. In the process of researching, I found the Instructable "Ultimate Sawhorse, Rockwell Jawhorse Mate", by ZombieWorkshop (https://www.instructables.com/id/Ultimate-sawhorse-rockwell-jawhorse-mate/), which looked like a cool launch point for this project and additionally I got the idea from Izzy Swan (https://www.youtube.com/user/rusticman1973) to make the vise quick release from his video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UsyBWRD3aY). Note that with the exception of the hardware he uses, notably the push button nut, this project you are looking at bears little similarity to Izzy's project.

One of the main tweaks (besides the vise) was that I want to make certain that the legs wouldn't flop around while I carried it. I decided that if I added some 1x4 side boards it would not only prevent the front legs from folding above the plane of the work surface, but also give me room to add some bench dog holes to work with the vise and really make this much more functional. At this point it morphed over from a sawhorse to a mini workbench. I also decided to go with using 2x4s instead of 2x3s, since 2x4s are beefier and, more importantly, much more easily available.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

TOOLS:

As far as tools go, I've got pretty close to a full hobbyist wood shop, so I have a lot of tools at my disposal. I do, however, remember back when I didn't. Given that, I'm going to do my best to include both the tools that I used, but also an alternate technique if you don't have the tool in question.

MATERIALS:

  • (3) 8' 2x4s (as straight and knot free as you can find)
  • (1) 8' 1x4x8 pine board (as straight and knot free as you can find)
  • (1) 13 1/2" 2x6 (I had some lying around as scrap)
  • (2) 1/2-13 x 3 1/2" bolts (I used hex bolts, but carriage bolts would also work)
  • (1) 1/2-13 x 5" hex bolt
  • (4) 1/2" flat washers
  • (3) 1/2-13 lock nuts (I used class C, but it shouldn't matter which kind)
  • (1) 5/8-11 thread knurled push button nut
  • (2) 5/8-11 lock nuts (I used class C, but it shouldn't matter which kind)
  • (1) 5/8-11 x 12" threaded rod
  • (2) 7/16" x 12" smooth steel rods (I ended up getting 35" long ones and cut them to length)
  • (1) 1/2" x 0.014 round brass tube
  • (1) 3/4" x 48" wooden dowel (you won't need the entire length)
  • (2) #6 x 1 1/2" Phillips flat head wood screws (although you can use something similar)
  • (1) 2" diameter dowel (see below)
  • (2) Wooden wheels
  • (1) 1/2" diameter neodymium magnet (a different size will work as well)
  • (4) 4d finish nails
  • Wood filler
  • Wood glue
  • Small tube of acrylic paint (color unimportant)
  • Epoxy

Most of the materials should be easy to find at any hardware store. The round brass tube I found at my hardware store, but if you can't find it there a hobby store should have one. The wooden wheels might be at either the hardware store or the hobby store, but if not, a craft store should have them (I got mine at Michaels). You might be able to find a 2" diameter dowel, or be able to turn something yourself if you have a lathe, but what I ended up doing was buying a cheap wooden rolling pin. It cost less than $10 and I was able to use it to make three vises.

The most specialty part of the materials is the 5/8-11 knurled push button nut. I was able to get that from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/8-11-Knurled-Button-Thread-Steel/dp/B002JL6RW8/ref=sr_1_1), but you can also get it from MSC Direct (http://www.mscdirect.com/product/details/01603000). You could probably find all of the other materials at Amazon if you can't find them locally.

Step 2: The Pieces and Cutting Diagrams

Picture of The Pieces and Cutting Diagrams

First off all the 2x4s from here (with one exception) were dimensioned to 1 3/8" x 3 3/8". Please see my Instructable about dimensioning wood if you are unfamiliar with this: https://www.instructables.com/id/Dimensioning-Lum...

The pieces you will need are:

2 x A - Top beams

3 x B - Rear vise plate and rear stretcher

2 x C - Front leg spacers

1 x D - Beam spacer. Note: this is the one piece that will be left at its original 1 1/2" thickness

1 x E - Rear leg

1 x F - Front left leg

1 x G - Front right leg

2 x H - Work bench top pieces

1 x I - Front vise plate

I would cut the rough length of the beams and legs before dimensioning, while the rest of the pieces I would dimension the cutoffs first and then cut them to length. The pictures show how you can cut each of the boards to get the pieces you need.

Step 3: The Vise Back Plate and Rear Stretcher

Picture of The Vise Back Plate and Rear Stretcher

This is a small piece, but is the most complicated part of the build. Once you've got this part down it should be pretty smooth sailing from there.

The first thing you'll need is two of the vice rear plate pieces (B). One end is cut on a 22 1/2° angle (Fig 1). Most miter saws should have a stop for that angle since it's the one required for constructing octagons. You could also use a miter gauge with a band or table saw, or a speed square or protractor with a circular or hand saw. You will then measure 11 3/4" from the base of the previous angle and mark another 22 1/2° angle (Fig 2) to form a trapezoid 11 3/4" at the base and approximately 9" at the top (Fig 3). Now cut that with your miter saw. I'm a big believer in Norm Abrams saying, measure twice, cut once, but don't measure at all if you don't have to, so I then used the first piece to mark the second piece of the vise back plate (Fig 4). You can also use this as a template for the rear stretcher, since that's the same (B), and set that aside for later.

Now that you have both pieces of the rear vise plate (Fig 5), you will need to mark the halfway point at the base of one of them at 5 7/8" (Fig 6). You'll want to double check that this measurement is in the center. Next, from the center mark you made, you will measure up 3/4" with your square (Fig 7).

I determined that my 1 1/2" hole saw was the perfect size for the push button nut (Fig 8). A Forstner bit probably would work better if you have access to one. I then chucked the hole saw into my drill press (Fig 9) and drilled to it's maximum extent of 7/8 of an inch (Figs 10 & 11). I then chucked a 3/4" Forstner bit into my drill press (Fig 12) and centered it on the hole made by my hole saw. If you used a Forstner bit in the previous step you will have an even easier job of it by just lining up the 3/4" bit with the central divot left by the 1 1/2" Forstner bit. I then proceeded to drill all the way through the piece (Figs 13 & 14). Note that I've discovered that you get less tear out if you drill to just the point where the central point of your Forstner or spade bit just protrudes out the side and then flip the work piece over, use the small hole to center, and then drill through the undrilled side.

With the side that has the 1 1/2" hole facing the second piece, I lined up the piece that I had been working on with another part (B) and used painters tape to hold them together in an aligned position. Run a finger along the seam between the two pieces to check for alignment because your finger is more sensitive to a misalignment than your eyes are. Now that you have the two pieces aligned, use the 3/4" hole drilled previously as a guide for drilling into the second piece (Fig 15). I only drilled part way into the second piece, because I wanted to use the divot as a center point for my 1 1/2" hole saw. I then removed the tape, chucked my 1 1/2" hole saw back into the drill press and drilled 1/4" down. Then I switched out the hole saw for my 3/4" bit (Fig 16) and drilled through the rest of the way.

We will now need to make a hole at the bottom to accommodate the button in the push button nut. I took the first piece (the one with the deeper 1 1/2" hole), and flipped it so that the base was up and the large hole was facing me. I then marked 3/8" from each side of the center point (giving me a 3/4" spacing altogether) and used my square to draw lines going one inch up (Fig 17). I also joined these two lines at the top. The thickness of the wood should be quite thin here, so you should have no difficulty scoring through the lines you marked with a knife (Fig 18) or the corner of a chisel. At this point you can lightly score the line at the top.

Using the lightly scored line at the top, drive a chisel into it (Figs 19 & 20). If you used a Forstner bit, this will be a very short way down. Even with using a hole saw, the waste in the hole parted very easily and cleanly (Fig 21).

The next process will be unnecessary if you used a Forstner bit. If you used a hole saw, like I did, you will turn to the second piece and score a number of lines along the grain of the wood into the circle outlined by the hole saw (Fig 22). Then, using a very shallow angle, use the chisel to remove the waste inside the circle (Fig 23).

The two pieces of the rear plate should now have mating holes (Fig 24) for the push button nut to sit in (Fig 25). With the push button in place, put the two pieces together and make certain that they fit together. If the nut prevents a tight fit, remove some more waste from the shallower hole until the two faces sit flush. The button on the push button nut is not attached to the nut, so at this point you should remove the button and spring and put them in a safe place. Once the two pieces fit flush (Fig 26), It's time to mix up some epoxy and glue the push button nut into the deeper of the two holes (Fig 27). Once that's been done, spread some more epoxy on the exposed side of the nut to glue it to the other piece (Fig 28). Now run a bead of wood glue on one of the mating faces (Fig 29) and spread it as a thin layer over the face (Fig 30). Make sure the two pieces are correctly aligned with your finger again and then clamp the two pieces together (Fig 31). You will want to be absolutely certain that the glue has completely cured before embarking on the next step.

When the glue has completely cured (I waited 24 hours), I removed the clamps (Fig 32) and set the rip blade in my table saw to 15 degrees (Fig 33). A band saw with a tilting table will also work as will a hand saw, but you'll need to be pretty good with a hand saw to get a nice looking cut. This will be on the inside of the workbench, however, so you could probably get away with something less than perfect. You will then trim cut the side that had the shallower hole. Do not cut the angle on the face that is closest to the nut! On the table saw, that means that the side closest to the nut will be against the fence and the side furthest will be towards the blade. You will also want to make the cut so that the blade lines up with the edge along the top of the trapezoid (short end) and angles in towards the base of the trapezoid (long side). Even keeping my blade up to the highest level it would go, it wasn't quite enough to cut all the way through the piece (Fig 34). You could finish the cut with a hand saw, but I flipped the piece over, carefully lined up the previous cut (Fig 35), and then finished the cut (Fig 36). Obviously, if you are using a band saw or hand saw, you won't need to make this accommodation. While I still had my rip blade mounted in the table saw, I adjusted the angle to 15° and cut across the top (short end) of the rear stretcher (Fig 37).

At this point, I changed out the rip blade in my table saw for a dado stack. Note that if you don't have a dado stack, you can make a series of cuts close together and then chisel them out. For the rear stretcher, I made two straight dados (Fig 38). These dados will go on the face that is longer from the bevel you cut along the top (Fig 37). The vise rear plate, however, will also need to make two dados at a 22 1/2° angles. Since my bevel gauge doesn't have anything for measuring angles, I locked down my miter saw at the correct angle and use it to adjust my bevel gauge (Fig 39). In this case, I measured the complementary angle of 112 1/2 degrees. I then marked out the location of the dados as shown (Fig 40). On the vise back plate the dados go on the side that you beveled (Fig 36).

To make it easier to line up the blades, I extended the marks I made on both the top and bottom of the pieces (Fig 41 & 42). As shown, the straight dados will be cut to a depth of 3/4" for both the rear stretcher and the vise rear plate, while the angled dados in the rear vise plate are cut only half as deep to 3/8" (Figs 43 & 44). I measured the depth of the dado blade (Fig 45), and ran a piece of scrap over the blade (Fig 46). I then checked the measurement (Fig 47) and adjusted the blade until it was the right depth (Fig 48). I then lined up the marks I made earlier with the edge of the blade (Fig 49) and used the miter gauge to push the pieces through (Fig 50 & 51). For the angled dados on the vise back plate, I adjusted my miter gauge to 22 1/2 degrees (Fig 52) and performed the same procedure with the dado stack set to 3/8".

With those dados complete (Figs 53 & 54), The rear stretcher is now complete. For the vise rear plate, I had one more step I needed to do. I set up for a rabbet (Fig 55). This is a 3/4" x 3/4" rabbet on the corner of the top (short end) of the trapezoid and the back of the rear vise plate (the same side as you cut the dados). This rabbet will be cut on the vise rear plate only.

With the rabbet complete (Fig 56), you could stop at this point on the vise rear plate, however, if you have access to a router table and a V groove bit, you may optionally take one further step so that your vise can handle round stock. I set the fence so that the point of the V was one inch from the fence (Fig 57). Then I ran the piece through with the top (short end) riding along the fence. I then adjusted my fence to be two inches from the fence (Fig 58) and ran a groove on each side using my miter gauge. Congratulations! You've just completed the most difficult part of this build (Figs 59 & 60).

Step 4: The Beams

Picture of The Beams

The beams (A) are 40" long at the base (Fig 1) and are cut in the shape of a trapezoid like the vise back plate and the rear stretcher. The angles on each side are 15° (Fig 2). It's important that the beams are the same length, so I used my earlier trick of cutting one and using it to mark the second (Fig 3).

The beams will also require two front leg spacers (C). The front leg spacers are 5 1/2" long with a 15° cut on one side (Fig 4) and are important for the front legs to spread out as well as for the vise guide rods. Once I cut the spacers, I stood them up on the flat end so that the points were facing up. Then, from opposite corners of the peak of the angle I measured a point 1/2" down from the peak and 3/8" from the side Fig (5). It's important that you get these pieces to be mirror images of one another. Once I made my marks, I put a 1/2" Forstner bit in my drill press and lined the mark up with the point on the Forstner bit (Fig 6). The Forstner bit wasn't long enough to go all the way through, but it did make a nice straight guide hole for me to finish with a long shafted 1/2" bit and a cordless drill (Fig 7) which allowed me to drill all the way through (Fig 8).

The next thing I did, was to dry fit each of the beams into the straight 1 3/8" dados of the vise back plate while the vise back plate was on the table. Then, with the points facing down on the spacers and the holes on the beam side, I butted the spacers to the vise rear plate and clamped them in place (Fig 9). I then used a pencil to trace where the back of the spacer lined up on the beam. I then removed the clamp and the spacer, and marked where the edge of the rear vise plate comes to on the beam (Fig 10). Since the edge of the rear vise plate doesn't have an edge all along the beam, I set my bevel gauge to a 15° angle, and finished the line (Fig 11). At this point I knew the area of the beam I would need to remove to seat the spacers (Fig 12).

With the dado stack still on my table saw, I set the depth of the cut to 1/8 of an inch and set my miter gauge to 15° (Fig 13). I then extended the spacer outline up the sides of the beams so that I could line the edges up with the dado stack (Fig 14). I then cut a dado with the blade lined up on the line closest to the edge (you may want to cut two of these next to each other to make sure the angle has been covered), then I reset the miter gauge back to 0° and made a cut along the opposite line (Fig 15). I then made a series of passes as I adjusted the position of the beam to nibble away the rest of the space (Fig 16).

Once I completed this process on both beams I had the a socket in each beam to receive the spacers (Fig 17). I then put down a bead of wood glue in each socket (Fig 17), spread it in a thin layer (Fig 18), and set the spacer into the socket. Be sure to put the spacer so that the side with the hole is in the socket (Fig 19)! I then clamped the spacers to the beams and let the glue cure overnight (Fig 20). As with the vise rear plate, you want to be absolutely sure that the glue has cured before proceeding.

When the glue was cured and the clamps removed (Fig 21), I reinstalled the rip blade in my table saw, set it as high as it would go, and set the bevel to 22 1/2° (Fig 22). I set the fence on my table saw so that the blade would cut right on the bottom corner of the spacer (bottom of the beam is the widest face). I discovered later that this left the spacer too wide and I had to cut it down further. What I would advise you to do instead is to dry mount the beams in the rear vise plate and trace the edge of the beveled dados on the vise rear plate along the edges of the spacers. Since the beams should be mirror images of each other, you will need to run them along the fence in opposite directions (Figs 23 & 24). The beams should provide a large area to grasp them so that you won't need to get your fingers anywhere near the blade. As with the rear vise plate, even at the highest position of my blade I wasn't able to cut all the way through the spacers (Fig 25), so I had to flip the beams over and carefully reposition my fence so that the blade was lined up with the previous cut. When you are done, the spacer should look similar to what is shown (Fig 26).

I then remounted my dado stack so that the depth of cut was 3/4 of an inch and that it was 3/4 of an inch from the side of the beam with the spacer. I then cut a rabbet along the beam (Fig 27) and removed any of the spacer that stuck up above the rabbet (Fig 28).

The next set of steps are to allow you to use the two 1/2-13 x 3 1/2" bolts as axles for the front legs. First, I lined up my square with the back edge of the spacers and drew a line across the bottom of the beam (Fig 29). On the opposite side of the beam, I measured from the line I drew across the bottom to 3 1/2" closer to the edge of the beam. From this new measurement, I measured up 1/2" and made a mark (Fig 30).

I then chucked a 7/8" Forstner bit into my drill press and lined up the point of the bit with the mark I made earlier (Fig 31). These holes are going to be at an angle so make sure the beveled edge of the spacer is laying flat (putting the rest of the beam at the correct angle). I then drilled to an approximate depth of 1/2" - 3/4". This hole should be just deep enough for the head of the bolt to be dropped all the way below the surface (at an angle). Do not drill all the way through with the 7/8" bit! Once I had the 7/8" hole to the correct depth, I switched my drill press to a 1/2" bit. Then I lined this bit with the divot at the center of the hole and proceeded to drill all the way through and out of the spacer (Fig 32). After that, I test fit the bolt to see if the head was completely below the surface (Fig 33). Don't worry if you drilled the 7/8" hole a little deep. If it's a little too shallow, drill out a little more.

Step 5: Beam Spacer

Picture of Beam Spacer

The beam spacer (D) is the only part that I didn't dimension, because I needed the full 1 1/2" thickness. The spacer starts off as a fairly small piece of scrap (though make sure it's long enough to reach safely from your miter gauge to the dado stack). On this, I mark a rectangle on one corner that is 2 1/2" long and 3/4" deep, while on the other corner I mark a 15° angle (Fig 1). Your dado stack should still be set at 3/4" wide and 3/4" deep, so just run the piece through a couple of passes to remove the rectangle that is marked out (Fig 2). I then removed the angle with my miter saw set to 15° (Fig 3). Once that has been trimmed, I measured 3 1/4" from the point, scribed a line with my square (Fig 4), and then did a cross cut with my miter saw.

At this point you can see that the spacer fits between behind the rear vise plate and between the two beams (Fig 5). The area removed by the dado stack is to make a small parts tray that will hold up to 2 1/2" nails or screws.

The spacer will need to allow the threaded rod for the vise to pass through it. To precisely locate the position of the hole, I placed my 3/4" Forstnet bit into the rear vise plate (Fig 6), dry fit the beams into the dados and pressed the spacer firmly against the vise plate. This left a divot where the center of the hole should be located (Fig 7). Then I chucked my 3/4" bit into my drill press and lined it up with the divot (Fig 8). Since my 3/4" Forstner bit wasn't long enough to go entirely through the spacer, I switched over to a 3/4" spade bit (Fig 9). I suppose I could have gone with the spade bit from the beginning, however, I find that the thicker shaft of the Forstner bit gives me a straighter hole.

Once the threaded rod hole was drilled, I then turned to making a hole for the neodymium magnet to sit in. I marked a point 1/2" from the end and 3/4" from each side (Fig 10). I then used a 1/2" Forstner bit (Fig 11) to drill to the depth of the magnet (Fig 12). Note that if you use a different sized magnet you can use a different sized bit and drill to the appropriate depth such that it is flush with the top. Then I used epoxy to glue the magnet into place (Fig 13).

Next, I marked out a section at the opposite corner that was 3/4" towards the angled side and 1 3/8" toward the small parts tray (Fig 14). I then mounted my cross-cut blade in my table saw and removed that section (Figs 15 & 16).

Step 6: Rear Leg and Main Body Assembly

Picture of Rear Leg and Main Body Assembly

The rear leg (E) has one end cut on a 15° angle and to a length of 30 1/2" from the long end of that angle (Fig 1). At the opposite end of the board from the angle cut, put a mark (Fig 2) 1 11/16" from the end and in the middle (1 11/16" from each side). I then used a compass (Fig 3) to draw a semi-circle at the end of the leg (Fig 4). Then I drilled out a 1/2" diameter hole in the mark I made earlier (Figs 5 & 6).

To trim off the corners along the semi-circle I marked earlier, a band saw would have been the best tool, however, all I had access too at the time was a jigsaw (Fig 7). The cut was a little rough (Fig 8), but that doesn't matter too much. I then clamped a scrap board to my workbench and butted the front of my belt sander against it. The scrap will prevent the belt sander from scooting along my workbench as I sand. Obviously, a table mounted belt sander would have worked better, but you could probably even get decent results from a sanding block and some patience. I then created a temporary axle with one of the half inch bolts in my materials to allow me to rotate the leg on the belt sander (Fig 9), which then gave me a very nicely rounded semi-circle on the end (Fig 10).

At this point, I turned back to the beams to make the hole for the bolt connecting the rear leg. I made a mark three inches from the end of each beam on the opposite side as the front leg spacers. This is measured from the bottom (longer) edge. I then placed the mark 1 11/16" from the bottom (Fig 11). I then drilled a 1/2" diameter hole on these marks (Fig 12).

One more step is required before assembly. You will need to drill the holes for the guide rods on the rear vise plate. To make these holes line up precisely with the front leg spacers, I dry fitted the vise rear plate with the beams. I then dabbed a little acrylic paint (chalk and maybe magic marker might also work) on the end of the 7/16" steel rod and pushed it through the front leg spacer guide rod holes (Fig 13) until it made contact with the rear vise plate. I then removed the beams from the rear vise plate and drilled 1/2" holes where the paint was on the rear vise plate.

At this point you can move to assembly. Before you start your glue up, though, push the 1/2-13 x 3 1/2" bolts through the leg spacers from the inside of each beam. You will need to do this because there won't be enough space to get them into the holes once the body is assembled. I started the glue up by spreading glue on the triangle that contact the leg spacers, the innermost dados, and the very middle of the rear vise plate (Fig 14). Make sure to spread glue on the sides of the dados. I then spread some glue on the sides of the beam spacer (Fig 15) and clamped together the entire front of the body together (Fig 16). At this point, you could also glue on the rear stretcher as well, but my work surface was too small to hold the entire assembly up, so I just wedged a scrap of 2x4 in between the beams toward the rear to make sure that the beams were parallel. I waited for the glue in front to cure, then I spread a bead of glue (Fig 17) and spread it (Fig 18) in the two dados of the rear stretcher. The top of the rear stretcher should come up even with the bottom of the rabbets on the tops of the beams (Fig 19). To do this I used a scrap 2x4 to lift the beams up. I then tacked the rear stretcher onto the beams with some 4d finish nails (Fig 20) and drove them in with a nail set (Fig 21). I did this because there wasn't any suitable place to attach clamps here.

The last part is to attach the rear leg. Making certain that the long edge of the rear leg is facing outward, feed the 1/2-13 x 5" bolt though a 1/2" washer, the hole in one beam, through the rear leg, and out through the other beam (Fig 22). Once the bolt is all the way through, place another washer over the end of the bolt and tighten a lock nut just enough so that the rear leg can still rotate freely (Fig 23).

The last part I did at this stage was to finish the bushings for the guide rods. I took my 1/2" diameter brass tube, marked the mid-point with a magic marker, and cut it in half with my miter saw (Fig 24). Note that brass is such a soft metal that you can use regular wood working tools with it so long as the brass is relatively thin and you take it a little slower than usual. The miter saw left a little flashing at the end, so I used a metal file to clean it up (Fig 25). You probably wouldn't have to do this if you had used a hacksaw instead. Then I inserted them into the bushing holes on the vise rear plate just enough to hold them upright (Fig 26). Next, I mixed up some epoxy and spread it over the tubes (Fig 27). I then got a scrap soft wood block (e.g. scrap of 2x4) to push the tubes all the way flush with the face of the rear vise plate (Fig 28). If the tubes offer too much resistance, you can persuade them with some light taps of a hammer on the wooden block. DO NOT hammer directly on the tubes because you might deform them.

Step 7: Front Legs

Picture of Front Legs

To do the front legs, it would really be best if you have access to a compound miter saw, but you could still do this with a hand saw if you are careful. The front legs are 31 7/8" at the longest point, but I gave myself plenty of excess in the initial cut for doing the dimensioning. The compound miter cut is 15° across the face side and 22 1/2° across the edge (Fig 1).

After I finished the dimensioning of the legs and cut them to 31 7/8", I made marks on the opposite sides from the angle cut 1 3/8" down and 1 3/8" across (Fig 2) on the opposite corner from the longest point of the compound angle on the other side. I then brought the legs over to the drill press (Fig 3) and drilled a 1/2" diameter hole through the leg (Fig 4).

At this point, print out two copies of the attached template for the tops of the leg. Make sure that you print them at actual size. Then cut them out and using a glue stick (Fig 5) glue them to the top of the legs (Fig 6) on the longer side of the leg. Note how I had to flip one of them upside down to make the legs a mirror image of each other. You could also solve that issue if you were to flip one of the prints horizontally.

Once the templates were glued down, I used my jig saw to trim the board to the template (Fig 7). Again, a band saw would probably work better. When the pattern was cut, I removed the template with a wet paper towel (Fig 8). After the paper and glue were removed (Fig 9), I used the same technique as the rear leg, in this case with a 1/2" drill bit to rotate the legs over the belt sander (Fig 10) until the curve is nice and smooth (Fig 11).

The next thing to do is to cut a bevel of 22 1/2° along the edge where the pivot hole and the longest point of the bevel (Figs 12 & 13). This bevel will allow the legs to rest flat against the the top when the bench is folded up.

To attach the legs, you will need to put it on by angling the leg up through the top of the bench (Fig 14). The longest end of the angle should face towards you. Rotate the leg through its entire range of motion and make sure that it rotates smoothly and comes to a stop in the dado cut into the rear vice plate. Also at this point you should check that the bench with all its legs extended that it sits flat and level. This will be your last chance to remove and fine tune the legs, so it's important that you shake out any issues now.

Step 8: Workbench Top

Picture of Workbench Top

The top starts two 1x4 pine boards I cut from an eight foot long board. I placed them in the rabbets on the beams and rear vice plate and marked the excess length on the bottom of the board from the rear stretcher. I also marked the bottom of the boards where they overhung the sides.

I then set my miter saw to 15° (Fig 1) and trimmed the board along the line I marked at the end so that the bottom is the longer side. I then set my table saw to 22 1/2° (Fig 2) and ripped the outside edge of the boards along the side marks I made. Remember that the top of the board will be the smaller face with the angle and the bottom will be the larger face. I then dry fitted the top boards to verify they fit correctly (Fig 3).

Starting with the ends of the top boards that butt against the rear vice plate, I measured 2 1/2" from the edge, and 1 1/2" from the non-beveled side (Fig 4). From there I made a mark every 5" from the first mark and also 1 1/2" from the non-beveled side (Fig 5). On each mark, I then drilled a 3/4" diameter hole (Fig 6). Once that was completed, I glued the top to the beams, rear vice plate, and rear stretcher (Fig 7).

Step 9: Vise Front Plate

Picture of Vise Front Plate

Unlike most of the rest of the pieces, the front vise plate was cut from a 2x6. This allows the front vise plate to overhang below the rear plate to make it easier to pull it out. Once I dimensioned the 2x6, I cut it into a trapezoid (Fig 1) with 22 1/2° angles such that the top was the same length as the rear vise plate (~9 inches) and the bottom was 13 1/2" (exact length isn't that important here).

As with the rear vise plate, you can optionally cut grooves into the front plate with a router for handling round stock. For the horizontal grove, I set my router table fence to 1" from the point of the V-bit (Fig 2). As far as routing the grooves in the sides (Fig 3), I lined up the front plate with the rear plate and marked where the center of the V-groove on the rear plate lines up on the front plate. Then I used a square to draw a line on the inside of the front vise plate down from the marks to the bottom of the vise plate. Next I measured the distance from the bottom outside corners to the line I just drew. Then I used that distance to adjust the distance from my router table fence to the point on the V-bit. When routing the side grooves, it's a good idea to use a backer board between your miter gauge and the work piece to prevent tearout.

In order to get the vise screw lined up between the beam spacer, the rear vise plate, and the front vise plate, I backed my 3/4" Forstner bit into the hole in the rear vise plate (Fig 4). This worked out so that the point on the Forstner bit was just protruding past the hole. I then lined up the front plate with the rear plate and clamped them together (Fig 5). If you don't have a Forstner bit, you can use the same trick that I do with the guide rods later (only use the 5/8" threaded rod instead.

We're going to leave these clamped together for the next few steps while we mark all the hole locations. The first of these was the bench dog holes at the top of the front vise plate. I used a square to line up the bench dog holes on the workbench top (Fig 6) and made a mark 11/16" from the edge on the front vise plate (Fig 7).

Just like I did with the rear vise plate, I reapplied some acrylic paint to the end of the 7/16" steel rod (Fig 8). This time, however, I was able to use the magnet in the small parts tray to help me stand the rod on end. I then fed the rod, painted side first, through the guide bushings an pressed hard against the vise front plate (Fig 9), reapplying the paint before doing the second one. Again, you can use this technique for the threaded rod hole if you don't have a Forstner bit.

The vise front plate can now be unclamped from the workbench and it will now have marks for all the holes that need to be drilled (Fig 10). The first holes I drilled were the 3/4" bench dog holes in the top of the vise plate (Fig 11). These should be drilled to a minimum depth of 1 1/4". While I still had the 3/4" bit in my drill press, I went ahead and drilled the hole for the threaded rod (Fig 12). Finally, I used a 7/16" bit to drill the holes for the guide rods (Figs 13 & 14).

Now that I was done drilling the holes, I turned my attention to the guide rods. Since I got a long rod, rather than two pre-cut to 12", the first thing I had to do was cut the rod into two 12" lengths. If you got these rods already cut to 12", obviously you won't need to do this. Unlike the bushings cut from the brass pipe, a woodworking saw will not (ahem) cut it. I therefore switched to a metal cutting blade in my miter saw (Fig 15). Note that while I've found that a miter saw with a metal cutting blade is very much up to the challenge of cutting relatively thin metal stock, you may have noticed that I don't have the standard plastic blade insert in my miter saw. This is because the heat generated from cutting metal is enough to melt the original plastic insert, so I cast an aluminum replacement. Assuming that you don't want to go to that trouble and that you want to keep the plastic insert you have, I would suggest putting a piece of wood under the rod to protect the plastic. Note that the wood will get a bit burned, but shouldn't catch fire. A fire extinguisher at the ready, however, might not be a bad idea. I would also highly suggest you wear gloves that will protect your hands from the heat since you could end up burning yourself. Of course if all this sounds like way more eXtreme than you want to deal with, you can always just cut the rod with a hacksaw and some patience or even better, just find 12" lengths.

This is optional, but I wanted to make my guide rods a bit like nails. I wanted the ends that go into the workbench to be tapered to reduce the chance that they would get hung up on the bushings if I ever wanted to remove the entire front plate. To make this taper, I ground the ends down with my bench top grinder (Fig 16), but you could always do the same thing with a metal file, or just skip this entirely. The other end I wanted to thicken like the head of a nail so that the guide rods wouldn't be able to pull out of front vise plate when I was opening the vise. To do this, I heated the ends with a propane torch (Fig 17), and then planting it on my anvil (you could use a steel plate or even a rock) I wacked it a few times (Fig 18) with my blacksmithing hammer (a regular hammer would probably also work for this). In blacksmithing parlance, this is known as upsetting the metal. You will of course want to be wearing your heat resistant gloves again. The result was that I had some ends that were very unlikely to pull out of the front vise plate (Fig 19). All this may have been overkill though, because the epoxy will probably hold the rods just fine.

Now I was able to attach the guide rods to the front vise plate. With the grooved side down, I hammered the rods tapered end first into the front vise plate (Fig 20). What I had so far of the workbench was perfect for this. The space between the beams is great for hammering, drilling, or cutting when you don't want to hammer, drill, or cut into your workbench. You shouldn't need to work too hard to get the rods in place, but the holes should be a little tight to simply push them into place with your hands. When I got the rods nearly hammered to the end, I applied some epoxy to the last inch or so (Fig 21) before hammering them all the way home (Fig 22 & 23).

While the epoxy is setting, it's a good idea to push the rods part way into the bushings of the bench and adjust their angles so that they will slide smoothly through the bushings (Fig 24). At this point, I wasn't planning on moving the bench around anymore, so I replaced the spring and button I set aside in step 3 into the push button nut.

Step 10: Making the Vise Handle

Picture of Making the Vise Handle

If you are using a rolling pin, the first thing you will have to do is remove the handles. The ones on mine twisted off with just a little effort. I was glad I did that rather than immediately cut it up, because the handles were connected by a steel rod, which would have messed up my saw. I set the rod and the handles of to the side because the seem like they could be useful in a future project.

Regardless of whether you used a rolling pin or a solid dowel for the handle socket, the next step is to cut a three inch length (Fig 1). The rolling pin I used had a 3/4" hole running through it. If what you are using doesn't have a 3/4" hole, you will need to use your Forstner bit to drill a hole on the edge in the center to the same depth as the 5/8" lock nut or slightly deeper.

You will then need to center the 5/8" lock nut on the hole and then use a pencil to trace the nut (Fig 2 & 3). I then used a knife to score the lines I traced (Fig 4). This step is optional, but I find that it makes it easier to set the chisel. Now use your chisel to cut the shape of the nut from the hole (Fig 5 & 6). Cut this to the same depth as the nut (Fig 7).

Now mix up some epoxy (Fig 8) and spread it on the sides and face of the nut that is going into the dowel (if a type C lock nut is being used, that would be the side that is angled) and press the nut into the hole (Fig 9). A few taps with a hammer may be required to get it all the way home. Once the epoxy set, I filled in the gaps with some wood filler and once that had cured sanded the whole side with a belt sander to flatten it out (Fig 10). This wasn't strictly necessary as it won't really show. If you want to do this, but don't have a belt sander, a file and some patience will also work.

If you used a solid dowel you won't need to worry about this, but if you used a rolling pin, you'll probably want to fill in the hole on the opposite side of the nut for aesthetic purposes. To do this I cut a length of 3/4" dowel (Fig 11). The length isn't terribly important but I cut mine to 1 1/2". Next, I covered the sides of the 3/4" dowel with wood glue and drove it down into the hole with a few taps of the hammer (Fig 12). If your dowel doesn't go all the way into the hole, just trim off the excess with a saw. You'll notice that the hole through my rolling pin wasn't exactly circular, so I needed to fill the gaps with some wood filler (Fig 13 & 14). Once the glue and wood filler had cured, I sanded the side flat (Fig 15).

The next step was purely optional, but to make the edges look a little nicer, I used a V router bit with a bearing to knock off the edges of the handle socket (Fig 16 & 17). Do not attempt this without a router table or a bearing on the bit, because it is much too dangerous. Instead you can use sandpaper or a file, or just leave the corners at 90 degrees.

I made a jig for my drill press with two pieces of wood cut at a 45 degree angle and screwed into a backer board. This is useful because it will prevent the round handle socket from rolling away as you attempt to drill into it. I measured to the middle of the handle socket (1 1/2" from each side), and put it into my jig; eyeballing it until my mark was at the apex of the handle socket (Fig 18). I then lined up the mark with the point of my 3/4" Forstner bit and proceeded to drill all the way through (Fig 19 & 20).

Next, I cut a 10" length of 3/4" dowel for the handle. I sanded the shaft of the dowel so that it would slide relatively easily through the hole in the handle socket. Next I drilled some pilot holes in each end of the handle dowel. There are a number of ways to determine the center of round stock, but given I already had a 3/4" Forstner bit that has a point in the exact center, I lined up the Forstner bit with the end of the dowel and pressed the point into the end of the dowel, thereby marking the center (Fig 21). Once I had the centers marked (Fig 22), I used a hand drill with 5/64" drill bit to drill some pilot holes for the #6 screws (Fig 23). I then slid the handle into the handle socket and screwed the wooden wheels to each end with the #6 screws into the pilot holes (Fig 24, 25 & 26). This completes the handle assembly (Fig 27).

Step 11: Final Assembly and Finishing

Picture of Final Assembly and Finishing

Now it's a simple matter of feeding the front vise plate's guide rods through the bushings int the rear vise plate and then feeding the handle (Fig 1) through the front vise plate, the rear vise plate and the push button nut (Fig 2). If you push the button nut down, the vise handle should easily slide through the entire assembly. To finish up the vise, I threaded a 5/8" lock nut onto the end of the vise handle threaded rod (Fig 3) to prevent the handle from sliding all the way out of the vise.
I didn't feel that this project required a fine finish, but I still wanted to give it some protection from water and dirt so I used boiled linseed oil (Fig 4). This is a super easy finish to apply. Just brush or wipe it on with a rag or paper towel, allow the oil to soak into the wood (I give it about fifteen to thirty minutes) and then just wipe the excess off.
That should do it. If you want to make some bench dogs for you new workbench, check out my Instructable here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Quick-Cheap-and-Easy-Benchdogs/

Comments

juanrfernandez (author)2017-07-25

Wow !! All the pics , step by step, perfect for me. Thanks so much. I will make my horse a little widder although. Good job.

paddlerjay (author)2017-06-09

This is a great set up, not sure how robust. Seems a little too spindly to me. Much as I appreciate all the pics and steps, I think this post is way too complicated. Too many steps etc. I think its better to have broader instructions.
More pics and drawings of the whole rather than so many "bits" . Just saying.

forthoodian (author)2017-05-15

I do enjoy watching a well thought out plan materialize. Even though there isn't a chance in hell that I will attempt this build for two reasons:1 being that I don't have half the tools required, and 2 I don't have any need for the final product.
All that aside, one in my position (lacking means & motive ) can still admire the forethought and planning that must have went into a project such as this. Very nice work sir.

Thanks! I think it could be made with hand tools, but yeah, not worth it if you don't have a need.

martine79 (author)2017-04-11

Love this! I am fairly new to woodworking but I really want to give this a try, as I need a workbench with a good vise for what I want to be doing and have no means of buying a good one.
As I was reading the (very clear) instructions, I noticed there's a photo missing, in step 4 there is no figure 8; "...which allowed me to drill all the way through (Fig 8)."

But I guess it won't be a big problem in making this (or trying to, at least) to not have an image of a drill going all the way through ;)

Thanks for this!
I bet both your father and brother were very pleased with their Christmas gifts?

Oops! Yeah I realized halfway through that people were probably going to get sick of looking at my drill press, but I figured better to err on the side of too many pictures.

Yes, both my father and brother were very happy with it. I liked it so much that the one documented is the one I built for myself.

If and when you try building this, feel free to ping me with any questions you might have.

This project is already proving to be a lot harder... I mean more CHALLENGING than I hoped it would be...still fun! ;)

Being from Europe, I'm now struggling a bit to convert all the dimensions from inches into millimeters. Any clue if there's a reliable one online I could use...?

Well if you have any specific challenges that I can help with, feel free to ask.

As far as converting to millimeters, an inch is defined as 2.54 centimeters, so to get millimeters, multiply inches by 25.4

1 inch x 2.54 cm/inch x 10 mm/cm = 25.4.

Personally, I think inches are a better unit to work with for woodworking than millimeters. :-D

aebe (author)scottrichards5a2017-05-06

Yup . Metrics doesn't hold a candle to inch/foot . Being able to easily divide or multiply is better than a decimal system .

scottrichards5a (author)aebe2017-05-07

Also, which would you rather have: https://m.imgur.com/TqmSNgT

:) Clever!

aebe (author)martine792017-05-06

Get an inch/foot tape measure . Beats the heck out of converting every measurement . I did it the other way around , bought a metric yardstick .

martine79 (author)aebe2017-05-07

Ha, never even thought of that, thanks! Will look for one!

foglemam (author)martine792017-04-21

In the Google search window type for example: "3 inches in MM" or "3 feet in meters" and hit enter. You can also convert currency the same way.

Willyd57 (author)2017-04-11

I have been a woodworker for some time now (I'm 60), and I respect people who come up with clever ideas. This is quite clever, so kudos man. And before some hater jumps in and says it's not clever because you took ideas from others let me add that nearly everything that has ever been manufactured was designed by taking an existing item then improving on it.

scottrichards5a (author)Willyd572017-04-13

Thank you for the kind words. I fortunately have not received any such messages, but I've been very up front that this was inspired by someone else's project and I think he deserves full props for the clever idea. I just took that idea and made it a little better :-)

Oh and I told him up front that I was elaborating on his idea and he was totally cool with that. Says he wants to put a vise on his now :-)

That's how great ideas become awesome !!!!

don't be so modest take the credit where credit is due !

You don't often get a pat on the back.

True enough. Thank you!

kohalabeeman (author)2017-04-27

This is the best in the outside world , it having only 3 legs . It can't rock n' roll , its finds its own stable footing . Since my encounter with vertigo 24/7 reduced me to sometimes bedridden and no longer the bread winner , all I can do is work unplugged at home . Gone are the warehouse sized shops I worked in now . Can't safely get around even in a 'production workshop' when you need canes . My boss was great , after my accident [TDI = $ 2.5 million while in a coma]and rehab took over , he held my possession at work for 5 years until rehab approved of my start back to work and things were going great after 10 months and then , wham !! , 24/7 vertigo hit when I was just sitting at a bus stop . That's now over a year .

But this bench you made looks like a winner for anyone puttering for a quick job at home or out on a job , Great!

A second bench to the side of the vise with a set of adjustable legs for leveling the surfaces of both benches to maintain a flat surface over uneven ground would be the next step and yet they could be taken down , to put away .

Great shops are how you make them and how useful when you have to use the backyard under a fold-up canopy . Never sweat the big stuff ,when you have a job to do , brake the job down to the smallest useful phase and work all parts to where you can marry them together .

Aloha Scott

Thanks. I get vertigo every now and then. It sucks

joelly (author)2017-04-12

A Plan Drawing would be nice to refer to...

Very nice lil bench...

Really COOL... Thank you!

scottrichards5a (author)joelly2017-04-13

The folding sawhorse plan done by ZombieWorkshop (https://www.instructables.com/member/ZombieWorksho... has a plan drawing associated with it, although I departed from his plan in a number of ways. Still it might help if you want an overview.
I've been trying (and failing) to teach myself SketchUp, otherwise I would probably have created a plan.

joelly (author)scottrichards5a2017-04-13

I found this... Is this what you meant?

https://www.instructables.com/id/Ultimate-Workshop...

Thank you

scottrichards5a (author)joelly2017-04-13

https://www.instructables.com/id/Ultimate-sawhorse-rockwell-jawhorse-mate/

^ try that. I think you're right that part of the URL got cut off

joelly (author)scottrichards5a2017-04-13

Thank you...

I know how you feel about SketchUp... me too...

COOL work...

gbeltrao (author)2017-04-11

Nice project and nice tiles on the background too... :D

scottrichards5a (author)gbeltrao2017-04-13

Thanks. It actually occurred to me I should have lined the boards up better with the tiles since they're one foot square. Give a little sense of scale :-)

Shiseiji (author)2017-04-13

Impressive project and instructions!

scottrichards5a (author)Shiseiji2017-04-13

Thanks!

charlesd.parker.33 (author)2017-04-12

The best Instructable I have seen. Very good job and thanks!

Wow. Thanks!

BreezyB (author)2017-04-12

Great build, awesome instructions, and a killer bio! haha

scottrichards5a (author)BreezyB2017-04-12

:-D

dimjimc (author)2017-04-11

Awesome. Just what I needed. Thanks

scottrichards5a (author)dimjimc2017-04-11

You are welcome. Thank you!

Thorn41 (author)2017-04-11

Great for my small shop! How long was the brass tube you used for the project?

scottrichards5a (author)Thorn412017-04-11

I believe it was one foot long. It didn't quite fill the entire hole through the vise, but that wasn't necessary. At a guess, I would say that if you have at least three inches of bushing on either side you'll be fine.

lbrockman (author)2017-04-11

Great build. Thanks for posting it. Haven't made it yet, but I am going to.

Great! If you have any questions I'll be happy to help

Yonatan24 (author)2017-04-11

Do you have a link to the video that you saw of the homemade Rockwell Jawhorse?

Thanks

Sorry for the confusion. There wasn't a video of a homemade Jawhorse. The video I was referring to was one by April Wilkerson, but I don't remember what the video was about. She using an _actual_ Rockwell Jawhorse in her project and as an aside, she mentioned that it was a great gift for woodworkers. When I learned that the cost was around $100 apiece (and therefore out of my price range), I created the project illustrated here.

Aha.

Yup, I learned about them from her too

ZombieWorkshop (author)2017-04-10

Ohhh very cool I was watching the main page of instructables and watch this , your project came out amazing, thanks for mentioning my instructable, the tail vise its a must have. I'm gonna adapt one for my existing sawhorses

Well I drew major inspiration from your project, so it seemed only fair to mention it. Yeah when I was looking at yours, I figured that the blocks used to angle the front legs would be perfect to run the guide rods through. Good luck on adapting yours.

acheide (author)2017-04-10

Nice build and very comprehensive instructions. Thanks.

scottrichards5a (author)acheide2017-04-10

Thank you

woodbywright (author)2017-04-10

very cool! I love the simplicity of it!

Thanks!

JmsDwh (author)2017-04-10

Very nice work.

About This Instructable

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Bio: Last native son of a dying planet, Scott was raised in the greater Lake Titicaca metropolitan region by wolves and a well-read okapi.
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