A lot of my woodworking has been ad hoc. I had limited space and time, kept my tools in a portable box, had what our cousins across the pond call a “knock-down” workbench (and which I’ll be calling a “folding” bench, “collapsible” is so pejorative) and would set up whenever and wherever was convenient. The sitting room was a favourite.
Understandably The Anarchist’s Toolchest by Chris Schwarz held a certain appeal. He advocates a limited set of tools and a self-sufficient attitude. Recently he’s been building a folding workbench which seems very much in the spirit of the book: low cost, flexible and sturdy and built by the user. And portable.
But as instructed in the introduction to the ATC I’m going to take issue with Mr. Schwarz. He’s put a crochet on his bench. In the interest of keeping my own bench light I did the same. Now that I have more permanent digs if I could work out how to attach a meaty face vise without substantially rebuilding, I would. Crochets are great for planing the edges of long boards: put a holdfast into the apron, rest the board on it, slide it into the crochet, swivel the holdfast to grip the board and knock it in with a mallet. Very quick and rock solid.
They are horrible for almost anything else.
Try cutting tenons. Yesterday afternoon I cut 30 bridle joints for a wood rack. I cut tenons by putting the works piece in the vice, tilting it away from me, cutting down one line, then across the top. Then I turn it around, repeat and cut to the shoulder line.
In a crochet this means jamming it in the top corner and trying to get a holdfast on the lower section. Then when you cut the saw pushes the workpiece further into the corner, bruising the wood.
Since I’m cutting a framework for shop furniture and it will be neither precious nor visible I don’t mind the bruising. But I will on the next project.
So if you can think of a better way to cut tenons in a crochet, let me know. If you’re thinking of building Mr. Schwarz’s folding/take apart/collapsible/knock-down bench, go ahead, it looks terrific. But for your own sanity take the leg vice option.