In the new year I’ll be building a workbench. That’s not unusual except that this particular workbench will be forming part of a lengthy chapter within our book. ‘The French Bench’ (not the Roubo) is where the design will be based and I’ve come to a bit of a head scratcher at the vice hardware. Why French? Well I’ve got a lot of English workbenches in my workshop currently.
I have a fantastic opportunity to use a vice screw given to me by a good friend, Richard Arnold, those who’ve been here a while may recognise this. This screw is special to me in a number of ways as not only was it donated so generously, but it’s absolutely stunning and I very much doubt that I’d get an opportunity to fit anything quite like this again. The thread is 2″ in diameter and has only 2 teeth per inch, so it’s a metal thread with the pace of a large wooden one.
The vice screw deserves to go on the finest of workbench. But despite what you might think, I’m not really in to posh benches. If I was designing for my own use then my bench would be built to be abused; tough enough to handle all that’s thrown at it and in no way sparkly or fine.
I’ve kept a pile of old wood which was taken out of the roof of one of our barns last year. It’s softwood but the sections are wide and it’s exactly fit for purpose for a rugged bench build.
I’ve not rushed in to using this wood because I’m saving it for a bench that can sit within the barn that it’s built from.
So I need to decide what to do with the vice screw. My heart says it’s the perfect match for the bench which will be built my way; strong, simple and coarse. But my head says this screw is much too good to spend its days installed in a bench thrown together out of some old pine from a roof. This vice should be saved for a truly fine bench?
What do you think – A bench from the heart, or save it for the world’s finest workbench?