Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bench Leveler Feet - Mark II


I mentioned some time ago that I would post the shop-made leveler feet that I used on the benches at school. These are an improvement on the ones I posted about a few years ago. The main difference is that the whole jam nut adjustment system is gone. I went back to the original design (see link in first post) of embedding a nut in the leg. I also switched the hex bolts to carriage bolts, but I kept the shallow hole in the puck, just making it round instead of hexagonal. These are very simple to make and use.

This is all you need for each leveler foot:


Hockey puck, all thread connector nut, carriage bolt.

Here's the process:

Mark the center of the leg bottom:


Bore a slightly undersized hole:


I usually bore the hole to match the length of the connector nut, but I didn't have my Stanley 47 with me, so I used the much less accurate "tape system".

Then I used my favorite technique for removing chips from the bottom of the hole - just pass the straw between the fingers of your cupped hand and blow hard - no dust in face, eyes or hair:


Tap the connector nut into the hole with a hammer:


After starting it with the hammer, I switch to a heavy rubber mallet and a piece of scrap wood to drive it home:


If you drive the nut completely with the hammer, the threads can become distorted from the pounding and the bolt won't adjust smoothly. DAMHIKT.

And here's the bolt:


The hockey puck foot ready for boring:


Don't squeeze it too tight, or your hole becomes extremely oval when the puck is released from the vise.

Here's the finished foot:

This one is actually wrong - I forgot we reset the adjustable auger bit for a student's project, so the hole is too big. One important note: the hole needs to be deep enough to fully seat the carriage bolt head, but not so deep that the square shank is recessed as well.

And the finished bench leveler foot:


The foot is very simple to adjust - just slip an open-ended wrench over the square shank and turn. These new feet have made workbench leveling at our school shop about as easy as it can get. I think I might have to retro fit my own bench at home...


18 comments:

  1. Great idea and pictures showing the process.

    Steve in Central CA

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  2. Great solution Dan. I just love when you can make something better and cheaper than the store bought hardware.

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    1. Benjamen - Thanks, and yes, it's great to make your own stuff, especially when it works better!

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  3. Dan,
    I linked to your most recent blog, I think this is a great solution to a common problem.
    Ian W
    blogjessemtools.blogspot.com
    blogthetoolstore.blogspot.com

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  4. That is helpful. Its not available in market I think.

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  5. I just used your idea for leveling feet on my reloading bench and it works perfectly! Thank you!

    --David in Alaska

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    1. David - you are welcome! Glad to be of assistance to a fellow Alaskan!

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  6. Dan,
    I just stumbled upon your blog - super interesting and educational! Your students are privileged. We should all be so lucky as to get this exposure in 6th grade.

    When I made a work table I used a hex bolt as a leveler - not as nice as yours with the hockey puck, but similar in principle. Only one of the four legs needs a leveler, though, if we just want to eliminate wobble on an uneven floor. Four levelers does make for better aesthetics, so I imagine that may have been your motivation.

    -Brian H. in silicon valley

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    1. Hi Brian,
      Thanks for commenting - sorry for the long, long delay in responding. You are correct, only one foot needs to be adjustable to eliminate wobble. But, if you want to level the bench, all four need to be adjustable. This might not seem too important, but it is (IMHO). For example, when chopping a mortise I rely on my sense of balance to keep the chisel plumb. If the bench top is not level, then my mortise is not "square". The same is true with sawing etc. It is of course possible to learn to adjust, and cut or chop square on a surface that is not level, but it adds another layer of challenge and most students are not ready for that.

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  7. This is great! I was looking for a cheaper way to level a 10ft work table. I know nothing abut hockey so I have one question. Does it matter if you use practice pucks or regulation pucks or is there really even a difference between the two? Thanks for posting this, I already have all the hardware now I just need the pucks.

    Mike in KS

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    1. Well, you are probably finished by now... but I'd say that the main difference would be facing the forfeiture of any goals scored with your bench in an official league game.

      How did it turn out?

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  8. Thank you for posting this, they look ideal for my workbench. What size carriage bolts did you use for yours?

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    1. You are welcome! Glad it might be useful to you. I got the largest bolt/connector combo I could find locally, which I believe was 3/4 inch. Larger would probably be even better, but we haven't had any problems yet...

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  9. Dan, I'm not sure if you're still monitoring this but I am doing a very similar install. I am using 3/4-10 hardware and when it is done I am positive it will be rock solid. I am having a problem installing the coupling nut. I bored a 1" hole in the leg and the tried to mortise out the hex shape. It works ok Guess, but it is very time consuming because its end grain and wants to splinter. Its very difficult to cut the ends of these splints 2.5" down inside the hole. Did you just bore a hole slightly less than the widest diameter of the hex shank and essentially wedge the nut into place? Were there any fears of splitting the wood? Did you use epoxy to cement it in or just a friction fit?

    Anthony

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    1. Hey Anthony,
      Yep, I kept it simple and bored an undersized hole. I don't remember exactly the size, but looking closely at the 5th and 6th pictures, it looks like I made it slightly larger than the diameter of the hex from face to face, but slightly smaller than vertex to vertex. The idea was for the vertices to cut into the sides of the mortise just enough to keep it from rotating, but not so much to split the leg apart. No epoxy was used or needed - they have held up great! I'd recommend experimenting a bit to find the right size. Have fun and thanks for reading the blog - I hope to get back to it soon, but we'll see how that shakes out...
      - Dan

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    2. Thanks Dan, I'll look at doing that. I'll just have to see what size bit I'll need. Likely 1-1/32 or 1-1/16.

      Anthony

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    3. 1-1/8 was the trick. They slid right into place!! Thanks for your help.

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