Interesting Woodworking Link

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Episode #110 – Planing Wedges Make Great Clamps!

Close-up of front panel of an engagement
chest camped against the bench edge
with a leather faced planing wedge

Having lived with my Modified New-Fangled Workbench for sometime, the two of us have enjoyed a love – hate relationship. However, there are a number of features that I have come to appreciate and depend on when working at the bench. Chief among these are the planing beam and planing wedges.

Today was no exception as I utilized the planing wedges to firmly secure the casework of an engagement chest to clean up the joinery between the front and end panels. A heavy fleece blanket protected the end panel resting on the shop floor.

The planing wedges slide along the upper edge of the bench on a T-track. They are leather lined and are locked in place with two ¼-20 T-bolts and star knobs. By securing the rear star knob first while the forward knob is loose, it is possible to gain an extra degree of clamping pressure by tightening the forward star knob against the work wedged against the leather face. The leather provides a firm grip while protecting the work.

I am considering a new bench in the near future, however at the top of my list of desirable features is the planing wedge and beam.


Anonymous said...

"Planning?" Really?

dyfhid said...

I like that! That's some good thinking, using your wedge as a clamp. I'm also impressed by the concept of the wedge in the track on the edge of your bench. I hadn't seen that before, going to go read about your bench itself now - looks like some good ideas, what can be seen in these pictures. Thanks for posting your work!

David Pruett said...


Yes, planning wedges. They are used as a holdfast in conjunction with the planning beam to hold large wide stock for planning.

David Pruett said...


Thanks! They worked well for this purpose. My apologies for the photographs. I was focusing on the use of the wedges and just realized that the photos do not show what I was doing. I basically needed to hold the case firmly so I could lightly plane the slightly proud edges of the front panels where they joined the end panels.

Anonymous said...

I think you mean "planing."

David Pruett said...

Absolutely! Thanks for the spell check. Corrections will be made ASAP!


Sveinn Daði Einarsson said...

Hello David, I've been planning to build a New Fangled Workbench myself and your bench has been a great inspiration to me. So when you say that you have been having a love/hate relationship with it, it makes me wonder what what is it that you like and what you don't like about this design. Your opinion on this might help me decide whether or not I should build this bench.

Thanks! Svenni

David Pruett said...

Svenni -

I have been meaning on spending some time to do a review of the bench. I keep putting it off in favor of other distractions and projects.

Please remember that I modified the original design of the New-Fangled Workbench, so my dislikes need to be considered from that perspective. I think the bench is a great idea and it appealed to me the first time I saw the design.

I modified the bench by putting it on a more substantial base for more mass and stability. I also enclosed the ends and made the removable center section a single piece.

Now that I have had the bench for sometime I discovered I prefer a single solid top. The idea of the center clamping system is intriguing, and I am sure useful to many woodworkers, however I did not end up using it as much as anticipated. I found I am not one that likes a center bench well and I don't like a multiple piece bench top.

The multiple pipe clamps initially appealed to me. After using them for a while I don't think they are as convenient as a good face vice and an end vice or shoulder vice. I also believe I could make better use of a series of bench dog holes, bench dogs and a set of hold fasts. At his point making those modifications would be significantly difficult.

I do very much like the planing beam and planing wedges. I use them on a constant basis and could not imagine a bench without these features. The leather facing of the planing wedges has turned out to be a great feature, as well as, the adjustability of the T-track system. I also like the sliding bench light on the rear T-track. This has been very helpful whenever I need extra light. I am considering adding a second bench light with a magnifier for detailed joinery and marquetry.

For my shop, the dual locking casters has also been a very useful feature. I also like the mass of the bench. I have never had the bench move during use.

Overall, I have learned a lot with this bench and my preferences will be reflected in my next bench. I hope this has been useful. If you have any specific questions please feel free to contact me.

I will likely sell this bench in the future. I am confident it will make a useful addition to anyones shop. Before I sell it I will require its services to build a new bench . . . it seems you need a bench to build a bench!

Best Regards,

Unknown said...

I am in the process of building my own bench and I am considering using T-tracks as well. I was wondering if you have seen any issues with the durability of them. It seems that there could be quite a bit of pull put on them when you clamp down on the wedges.