Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Nicholson had to say about the Bench

Only two pages (87-89) are devoted to the bench in Nicholson's book.  There are some interesting tidbits beyond what is apparent from the engraving.  These caught my attention.

Nicholson describes a "upright rectangular prismatic pin," visible in the engraving on the left side of the top.  Used as a planing stop, he calls it a bench hook.  It is essentially a square block held in place by friction that is moved up and down with a mallet to serve as a planing stop.  This is for a right-handed woodworker.  The bench hook and the screw would be on the right side of the bench for a left-handed woodworker like me.

The bench screw, or vise, has a "guide" on the side opposite the screw itself.  It is mortised through the side board and serves to align the top of the check with the top of the bench.  This vise is subject to racking unless a  spacer is placed between the check and sideboard on the opposite side of the screw from the piece being held.   Some modern variations of the bench use a twin screw vise instead of the guide.

The recommended dimensions of bench components fits reasonably well with standard dimensions of modern construction lumber.  The legs are to be at least three and a half inches square and the top is to be one and a half to two inches thick, "the thicker, the better for the work."   The latter is the major issue that arises in using construction lumber for the bench.

The pairs of legs are "generally coupled  together by two rails dovetailed into the legs."  The engraving looks like a mortise.  There are three or four transverse bearers between the legs.

" For the convenience of putting things out of the way, the rails at the ends are covered with boards."  He goes on to describe a locker that is sometimes created for tool storage, accessible by sliding a portion of the top open.  I don't see this in the engraving.

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