Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Portable bench inspired by Steve Latta


Finally the traveling/inlay bench is complete.  The overall bench concept is inspired from Steve Latta who is a furniture maker and teacher in Lancaster, PA. Steve also wrote an article on this very bench in Fine Woodworking Magazine issue #244 in the Tools and Shops Issue 2015.  

The bench I made is about 42 inches long without the vise by 10 inches wide x 12 inches tall.  For the bench dogs I used the Lee Valley brass dogs and are 3/4 inch diameter.  These are hands down my favorite form of bench dogs and I use them in all my benches.  The vise I am using on the bench is a quick action #52 Record vise but any decent vise should work. Really take a look at vise options for new vises aren't as good or plentiful as they once were. 

 The legs on the bench are made from 2 pieces of cherry and are grooved to accept 2 pieces of 3/4 plywood laminated together. The legs and plywood are glued together and should fit tightly in the groove. A pair of cherry legs on the same side of the bench gets notched for a clamp and each plywood is notched on the bottom to help the bench stay level in use. Lastly one plywood leg gets a section removed so the vise can slide in and out without restriction. Some of you may be wondering why not just move the leg in further from the end so you don't have to notch the plywood for the vise.  I did try moving the leg further in but the whole bench had the tendency of tipping. So that answer that.

The legs are connected with dowels and located with dowel centers. 

The dowel centers assisted in transferring the leg location to the top .

For added strength and insurance a block was added and screw to the leg and the top. 

Another awesome addition to the bench was the swivel jaw which allows you to clamp tapered items. The swivel jaw is nothing more than a thick block with a hole bored in it for a 3/8 inch diameter dowel. After the hole is bored the stock gets sawn in half at the bandsaw. After the block is sawn one jaw gets cleaned up and stays flat while the matching block gets cut on either side of center with a taper cut in thickness.  After that the taper get cleaned up a dowel is nailed in the tapered jaw with a few brads.

The overall bench took about 3 hours to make and its amazing it took me so long to make it. Not only is it good for the back but it is always good to have another bench in the shop.  


  1. Nicely done, Freddy. I've been meaning to make one of these, as well.

    Too many things on the list...

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