I’ve had my woodworking bench for twelve years now. It’s been a good workhorse, small enough to fit into my bijou little workshop spaces but big enough to be useful. It first lived in a corner in the old salle, then the tatami shed in the ‘new’ salle:
then my garage in Ipswich, and now my workshop at the end of the garden):
The vice has never been great though. Good enough for most things, like holding this bit of ash in place while I mark it out for a scabbard:
But it was always quite sticky, and has gotten worse over time. And with changes in atmospheric moisture, the bench top has moved a bit, so it didn’t close up all the way to the edges.
The body of the bench has also never been perfectly stable. It’s okay, but a bit light, and with the racking forces from planing on the bench top, it’s gradually become more wobbly.
Yesterday I spent about four hours disassembling the vice and getting it tuned up; planing down the vice jaw, the side of the bench, and the bench top; and adding some diagonal members to stabilise it.
Turns out, the floor itself in my workshop isn’t very stable (it’s fundamentally just a shed) so I put down a couple of planks to spread the load a bit.
Now the vice twizzles like this:
At the time, I just felt like spending a day doing woodwork, and thought I’d take half an hour or so to improve the vice because I have some tricky sliding dovetails to cut. But one thing lead to another, and now the bench is performing better than it ever has before.
So here’s a thought. What other bits of maintenance am I neglecting? What other opportunities are there to put in a little bit of work now, to reap rewards for years to come?