Bench dwellers

img_2776 (1)When Mum and Dad were round over Christmas I proudly showed off my new(ish) bench, expounding its virtues. I enthused about the way I had built the tool tray so that it can be turned upside down and is level with the bench top, so level, I insisted, that I could mark the bottoms of the legs of chairs to trim them. “It’ll take you half an hour to empty it first.” Dad observed.

It can’t be denied that it does fill up in the middle of a project. But half an hour is just hyperbole. It didn’t take a second longer than 28 minutes to clean up the bench and that included rescuing all of the pencils from the pile of shavings. I maintain that it’s worth it. Not one tool fell on floor throughout the last project.

Most tools went back in their respective places but a favoured few were returned to the bench and are now full time tray dwellers.


From left to right: the leftmost dog that interchanges with the Simon James toothed bench stop to its right. Below them a lump hammer for holdfasts and chair legs. Some tenon cheeks from a project long forgotten that serve as clamp/holdfast pads. Leather scraps that do the same. Joiners’ saddles, candle for waxing planes and screws, bench brush.

All pencils were repatriated to the pencil box. They’ll find their way back; it’s an ongoing process. The holdfasts are too big for the tray and hang from a peg next to the bench or one of the stretchers on the leg assembly; always within reach.

Happy New Year.

6 thoughts on “Bench dwellers

  1. I’m amazed: so little time for so much “clutter”.

    I’m continuously amazed that we bred such able, successful & and skilled sons.
    You taught me how to measure and trim chair legs, and I’ve done it for your Mum’s kitchen stool. My pencils never find their way home, so I laid my pull saw across two blocks and scored around the legs, so deeply that the final cut was just a few strokes.


    • I like that!
      If you put a block plane upside down in your workmate flush with top you can take hold of each leg and pull it across the plane with the others resting on the bench top. It makes it very easy to make very small adjustments.


  2. Yes! I am building a Moravian bench, and I have been thinking about doing the very same thing with the tray for the very same reason! I’m glad I’m not the only one. I will be digging through your blog for more details on the nuts and bolts. I found you on Instagram, but am just now finding your blog, somehow.


  3. Hi – a few years too late but I’m wondering if you have any more info on how you keep the flipped tool tray stable once its flipped? Building a Moravian now and I’d like to incorporate this into the tool tray.


    • It just sits there!
      When I built it I thought I’d put pegs through the bottom or some kind of chocks to hold it on but actually it’s never moved unless I’ve moved it myself.
      If you’re not happy with that you might embed some magnets in the top of one rail and the bottom of another and then the opposite poles in the bench supports. That would keep it in place.


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