Historically Accurate Gas Springs: The Sequel

Some months ago I wrote a rather tongue in check post about being inspired to add gas springs to my workbench.  You can read that post here:

Historical Accuracy

I also wrote a subsequent post in which I actually installed the gas springs.  You can read that post here:

A Frame and Panel Lid for the Workbench Base – Part 7

I spent a considerable amount of time trying to calculate the pounds of force that would be needed to hold the lid in the open position, and I ended up ordering 20 lb gas springs from McMaster-Carr.  Well, my calculations failed miserably and I ended up with a lid that was certainly easier to open, but wouldn’t stay in the up position.  I ordered a pair of 30 lb gas springs hoping that this would fix the problem without being too strong.  If the springs are too strong then the lid won’t stay closed.  My miscalculation ended up costing my about $40 by the time I paid for the new springs and a whole new shipping charge. Oh well, I wanted it to work as intended so what choice did I have but to order the stronger springs?

The new springs arrived quite soon, but by that time, the workbench base was inverted while I applied finish to the under side of the base.  I put three coats of danish oil on the under side of the bench and the bottoms of the legs.  Once this had cured I added about five coats of polyurethane on the bottom of the legs.  I only applied the poly to the leg end grain as some insurance against moisture getting wicked out of the concrete of my shop floor and rotting the legs over time.  I have another idea thanks to a readers comments for further steps to seal the legs, but I’ll save that for another post.

When I finally had the bench back upright, I took the opportunity to change out the gas springs for the stronger ones.  Success!!!  The lid now stays in what ever position I put it.

With 30lb gas springs, the lid stays open.

With 30 lb gas springs, the lid stays open.

When I wrote earlier about installing the gas springs, reader Steve D. commented that in his engineering experience he had learned that it was better to install the gas springs with the body of the spring in the upper position and the rod pointing downwards.  This would keep the oil in the spring near the joint with the rod and in turn keep the seal lubricated. I had never heard of this before but the minute I read it, I knew that it must be right.  I was an instant convert.  So, when I switched the 20 lb springs out for the new 30 lb ones, I installed them as he recommended.

Thanks to comments from a reader, I installed the gas springs with the piston rod down.

Thanks to comments from a reader, I installed the gas springs with the piston rod down.

This worked out well, I only wish I hadn’t had to spend the extra $40 on stronger springs.

Anyone want to buy a pair of 20 lb gas springs at a discount?

More soon.


– Jonathan White

About Jonathan

I am a woodworker and hand tool restorer / collector. I buy too many tools and don't build enough - I need help!
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2 Responses to Historically Accurate Gas Springs: The Sequel

  1. Marilyn says:

    That’s a very cool idea!

I'd love to hear your thoughts, comments, or questions.

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