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A stitch in time, or twelve years late!

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.

Dressing the front edge of the bench so the vice will mate properly with 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:

https://youtu.be/ZG6Yf71QGxg

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?

I'm sure you have an opinion: do share!

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