Sunday, October 9, 2011

An Auxiliary Bench Top for a Workmate

It's said that, "Necessity is the mother of invention.", and this item certainly bears that out.

Years ago, I had a commission to build a breakfast nook table, corner bench and two chairs for a lady. It was quite a project, and it taxed my workshop's resources to the limit. The chairs especially needed a dead flat work surface to be assembled on, that I could dedicate to each chair until it was done. That led me to come up with an auxiliary bench top for my Workmate. It's pictured below.

It did the job for me, and since then it's proven itself to be immensely useful, especially for doing glue-ups of various sorts.

It's mostly just a 30" x 39" piece of 1 3/32" thick, denser-than-average particleboard that I found at a local building supply. It's melamine-clad on both sides. I radiused the corners as something of a safety feature, and to preclude corner damage -- sharp corners of particleboard tend to be fragile and easily chipped. I thoroughly sealed and enameled the edges.

On the underside, I installed three cleats with a 'hook' feature for securing the top to the Workmate's jaws. Here's a view of the entire underside.



And here's a close-up of one of the cleats. You can see the notch that accepts the outboard edge of a Workmate's jaw.

So, the top attaches to the Workmate by having the Workmate's jaws opened until their outboard edges seat in the cleats' notches. A Workmate's jaws aren't designed to exert much force in the opening direction, but they don't need to; they just need to seat fully and firmly in the cleats. Here's an underside view of the installed top.

It's a very secure attachment scheme that's never given me any aggravation.

Light weight is not one of the top's virtues -- it weighs 33 lbs. That's not a problem for me because this thing has a dedicated spot in my shop where it's always ready for whatever comes up. When I do need the workmate sans top, it's no big deal to take the top off and set it aside for awhile.

I mentioned 'glue-ups' earlier, and just this past week I've been using it to glue up a table saw deck that I'm making from odds and ends of maple flooring. Here's a shot of that in progress.

Wood glue won't adhere to the melamine cladding, so cleaning up any squeeze-out that gets away from me is a breeze.

It's a versatile piece of gear that has served me well, and continues to do so.

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