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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm about to build a toolchest, and once that's done I'm hoping to have time to build a portable workbench that I can use in the basement for the winter. The two obvious plans are either the one Paul Sellers uses, modified to be easy to knock down, or the Roy Underhill plan from The Woodwright's Apprentice. Both have already been modified to be easily portable, so that's a solved problem. Either way it will be fairly small (on the order of 60"x20"), and made as inexpensively as possible, which means mostly construction lumber. This will be pretty much entirely for hand-tool use, which is why I'm posting in this sub-forum.

The big problem I'm facing in design, though, is how uneven the floor is. When my normal bench was down there, I ended up having to shim two of the legs, and if the bench shifted a quarter inch I had to re-shim. I sat down yesterday to consider, and realized I was sitting on my three-legged sawbench, which is solid no matter how uneven the floor is.

So: my current thought is that no matter which design I go with, I'll angle the legs slightly out towards the ends of the bench. Not a lot: maybe 10 degrees. I'm thinking two legs on the left end, since that's where I'll be doing most of the work, and the end I'll generally be planing towards, and a single leg on the right end, reinforced with diagonal braces coming from the benchtop down to around halfway down the leg. I'm imagining something like a timber-frame knee-brace type joint on each side of the leg. That should give a certain amount of front-to-back stability, while still allowing three-footed stability.

If anyone has any thoughts, or has tried it and can point out some problems I've overlooked, I'd love to hear them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah, I thought about it, and I may yet end up doing it. The problem is just HOW unlevel the floor is. In the only corner where there's space for a bench, there are places where the surface is at a 1:1 slope. Moving half an inch sideways could mean I have to stop and re-level every foot to get the bench stable again.

Level is nice, but I'm most concerned with stable, and four-legged structures just aren't. That said, I may add levelers to the end with two feet if I go with a three-leg design.
 

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I built a 3-legged wood carving bench with a 5" x 5" hole in the middle. Maybe 20x20, 28" high. For working end grain in tall, skinny carvings. Under the hole is an adjustable support shelf to bring the end of the carving up to a reasonable working height. The two back 2x4 legs are canted out 15 degrees, the front leg is vertical. Two swing arm desk lights. The correct solution for the work to be done.

The next one will be really bash-worthy = 4x4 legs, double 2x8 thick top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I built a 3-legged wood carving bench with a 5" x 5" hole in the middle. Maybe 20x20, 28" high. For working end grain in tall, skinny carvings. Under the hole is an adjustable support shelf to bring the end of the carving up to a reasonable working height. The two back 2x4 legs are canted out 15 degrees, the front leg is vertical. Two swing arm desk lights. The correct solution for the work to be done.

The next one will be really bash-worthy = 4x4 legs, double 2x8 thick top.
Sounds useful! Is it as stable as it sounds like it should be?
 

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Yes, very stable. It's just barely big enough that it doesn't walk around much, even on my smooth concrete shop floor. All of a sudden, I realized that I could care less how high the bench is, it's the carving that needs to be at a comfortable working level.
What has also surprised me is how fast I can get things done. I lower the carving into the hole.
Padded sides, I snug the carving into place with soft wood wedges on 2 sides, maybe a strap underneath.

End grain work is kind of fiddley so I can't tell you how "bash-worthy" it might be.
Otherwise, I swing a 30oz lead core carver's mallet. Sometimes, every bit as hard as I can.
I've been asked not to do that in Exhibitions = other exhibitors protested that it's
too messy, noisy and violent.

So I save the diddly stuff to do in a show. Lady stopped to watch. Said: "Looks tedious."
Thank you, Sherlock.
 

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The next bench will be bash-worthy.
Three 4x4 legs. Double top layer, each possibly a glue-up of 2 x 3/4" sheets of plywood.
The upper one will be in register with the lower one, dowels or rods of some sort.
I want to be able to lift the top layer to make space for a layer
of 4x4 fencepost pieces (or 2 layers for that matter.) I figure that I want to change the bench height by 8" or so. Strap clamps/C-clamps to hang onto the work. Most of the carving forces are pretty much straight down.
 

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@Andy - the floor of my garage is very uneven. When I built my work bench/outfeed table, I drilled holes in he bottom of the legs. Then I glued in two 5/8 inch nuts. By threading in a bolt with a washer and a third nut, I can adjust the table as needed to make it level. My table is rock solid.

Here are a couple of pics showing how I made the leg levelers.
Hope this helps.
Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks! I'd seen something like that, and I like the idea, but I'm still fairly sure it won't work well. I'm on a floor that's rippled, pitted, and sloped. I couldn't get four legs made of 4x4 to stay shimmed, so I suspect that unless I managed to get at least two of the feet lodged in some of the pits, small feet just aren't going to work.
 

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It's like the 3 wheeled cars

They are fine until they start moving. :blink: Why not make a 4 legged bench with only one adjustable foot? :blink: The other 3 legs will always be touching the ground, you just have to make the 4th one touch also.

The 3 legged bench will have a much greater tendency to tip along the axis between the single leg and the other two.
Another idea is to make two of the legs and it's support frame independent from the top, so they can settle in on an uneven surface. In other words, the adjustment would be between the top and the frame of the legs.

Check out these monster leveling pads I put on my mobile table saw base:


Only one frame needs to pivot just slightly.
 
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