§ by Joel Hess on October 8th, 2008
ShopNotes magazine has finally given its readers a practical reason to download Google’s design and drawing software — SketchUp. In Issue No. 102, the magazine features a great plan for a Cabinetmaker’s Workbench. And for the first time, they’re providing an Online Extra feature that I think is really cool — a SketchUp model of the workbench in 3-D.
If you’re familiar with the program, you know how powerful a tool it is. And if you’re new to it, Google has provided dozens of video tutorials, an extensive Help Center and even live training classes that make it easy to start modeling your own projects right away.
ShopNotes associate editor Randy Maxey came up with the idea to add the model to the magazines’ website. He thought it would be fun to provide readers with a professionally-designed project that they can actually take apart to really get a feel for the way it goes together before deciding to build it. And best of all, if you want to modify the workbench — make it taller, longer, or even change it to feature an edge-grain top — you can take the model and make any changes you want to reflect your particular needs.
Other free downloads at the website include plans for the drawers, a short video animation of the workbench’s best features, and a fraction-to-decimal conversion chart.
§ by Joel Hess on October 3rd, 2008
If you’re looking to add versatility to your workbench, a patternmaker’s vise is a good way to do it.
At the turn of the 20th-century, Emmert Manufacturing produced a bench vise to help patternmakers make wood parts for castings used in manufacturing. Unlike typical vises, the Emmert vise could twist and turn in several directions and angles. This allowed patternmakers to adjust a workpiece to a comfortable position without having to loosen the vise, adjust the workpiece, and tighten it down again. Simply flip a lever here or a knob there, and position the vise (and the workpiece) right where it needs to be. While the company no longer exists, the Emmert is still a highly sought-after vise, commanding prices up to $800. Fortunately, other companies now make similar vises.
The vise shown at right is available from Highland Hardware (stock #168040). Similar vises are available from a number of manufacturer’s.
For more information on patternmaker’s vises and to learn about more great tips and techniques for updating your shop, consider subscribing to ShopNotes magazine. You can get a free preview issue of ShopNotes magazine here: ShopNotes Preview Issue