This little bench-raiser is great for your back – and good for your eyes!
I recently heard from my Colleague Noémie Viaud about an adjustable height bench that she loves. I wanted one but before going to the expense and trouble of ordering one (her’s a Hofmann-hammer, is from Germany and not readily available in the US), I decided to make a little three-level bench raiser to see if it would be worthwhile.
The bench raiser is simply a box cut into three layers. The layers are keyed for re-stacking. Noémie dubbed it the Lego Bench. The lowest layer has holes cut to receive clamps to attach it to your main bench, or to clamp on the top layer on for vigorous operations. The top is inter-changeable and keyed into place. I so far have two tops, a simple flat one, and a plate-holding jig. The tops are cheap and quick to make so they can be adapted and abused without worry.
Each layer can have a bottom fitted and can be used for tool storage. I believe that I will take this to Oberlin as my tool box in the future.
The simple flat top is the most versatile. It overhangs the box on three sides for clamping the work down. There are low profile bench stops on two sides. I’ve often wanted to have such stops on glued to the top of my main bench, but of course that is not practical.
Whether Im standing or sitting I can set the work at a comfortable height for planing, rough arching, fine arching and purfling. This is great for your back but what I hadn’t anticipated is that it brings the work close enough to where I can see it clearly again (colleagues over 50 will understand).
It’s also great for set up work. Bridge fitting can be viewed form a useful low angle, and it is extremely convenient to be able to leave the fiddle on the bench when checking soundpost fit through the endpin hole.
3/4 ply Screwed and glued. Construct an open topped box and then slice it into three layers. I’ve marked the inside with a “V” so that I can easily re-stack them in the same order.
Dimensions (WxDxH): 16″ x 9″ x 11″ (40.5 x 23.0 x 27.5) cm
(If I make another one it will be 17″ wide so that I can fit my long handled gouge inside)
Tip: To key in the interchangeable tops, fit a piece of ply exactly to the opening of the box, then taper the two short ends so that they can be dropped into place more easily. With the holding-jig top , make it over hang the box slightly so that it can be easily removed. When you are arching and thicknessing you will be taking the top off frequently to rotate the work.
The holding-jig has one screw and one cam adjuster and is spring loaded. It holds well for arching and thicknessing. To hold the whole violin body during purfling and final arching, which I normally do on the closed violin box, I’ve added removable toggles that hook onto the violin overhang.