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Thanks Chris! I found this page while looking for a link to your e-mail address. I recently finished your erudite volumes on workbench design, and am about to embark on my own bench inspired by your take on the Holtzapffel design. As my vices and planer arrive, I’ve been agonizing over whether to use SYP or rough maple for the top. I don’t have a big budget, so all-maple is not an option. But after reading your ten tips here, I’ll stop agonizing — all SYP it is! This is, after all, my first of what I hope are at least several handmade benches. Your scholarship and craftsmanship are truly inspiring.
I like the idea of re-inventing the wheel. I choose to believe that while others may have considered these improvements, they just never got around to trying them out. Brain gets bored with status quo. So, I try to keep Brain happy with the occasional foray into uncharted territory. And I must say Brain has had some really good results. Thanks, in part, to you, and the Roy. You never know where a good idea might come from so I’ll check in once in a while. That and make sure to build it in Sketchup first.
When the shelf was full, we called the list done. The results of that debate is the list of books that follows (publishers listed are for the editions we own). It’s by no means a perfect list. It is a list that would probably change a bit if we had the debate again in a couple months. Some of these are classics, some are contemporary. But these are the books that are first in our hearts.
Flip the base upright, put the MDF on top of it, then use a straightedge to draw two straight lines joining the outside edges of the legs and extending the width of the MDF. I used the countertop as the straightedge. We cut it with our cutting guide, which is based on the factory edge of a sheet of 1/4" plywood, so it should be straight enough. Use a carpenter's square to transfer these lines onto the ends of the MDF.
Great advice. May I add #11?…if you’re left handed (like me), build a left handed bench. It sounds obvious, but when I made my bench, I had looked at all the pictures in my books, laid out plans for a nice, traditional bench, built it, then realized my front vise should have been on the other end (I have no tail vise). I plane from left to right, and the front vise is always in the way.
I am surprised the the Hand and Eye combo by Tolpin didn’t make anyone’s list. I have also really found Chris Schwartz’s Anarchist’s design book very useful. Everything else that I really like is already in here somewhere; Moxon, Roubo, Estonia, Peart. The beginners book by Wearing is excellent, and I have taken to giving it to Eagle scouts at their Eagle Courts of Honor of late. (with an inscription about taking the raw stuff of life and developing the skills and tools to make from it what you need…); cheesy, I know, but it is a really good book to start folks off with.
Finding a toolbox for a mechanic, for his hand tools, is not a big challenge at all - there are dozens of the tool boxes available on the market, from huge roll-around shop cases to small metal boxes. Plumbers, electricians, and farmers are well served, too, with everything from pickup-truck storage to toolboxes and belts. But, if you are a shop-bound woodworker then the case changes. You get to need a tool box that suits the range and variety of hand tools that most woodworkers like to have. For those who deny making do with second best, there's only one solution, you’ve to build a wooden toolbox that should be designed expressly for a woodworking shop.
I drilled from the mark. That way I could ensure that the hole was where it was supposed to be, on the side where the position was critical. I have two 3/8" bits -- a brad point bit that came with my doweling set, and a perfectly ordinary 3/8" twist bit. Brad-point bits are far more precise than twist bits -- they're more likely to start where you want them to, and they're more likely to stay straight. My problem is that my brad-point bit wasn't long enough to go through 3-1/2" of wood. So I started each hole with the brad-point bit, then finished it off with the twist bit. I clamped a piece of ply on the back, to reduce tear-out.
Woodworking Basics presents an approach to learning woodworking that has proven successful for hundreds of people who have taken the author’s introductory course over the past 20 years. Peter Korn’s method helps new woodworkers learn the right techniques from the beginning.More experienced woodworkers can use it to master the classic furniture-making skills key to fine craftsmanship. Korn includes two attractive and useful projects — a small bench and a side table with a door and drawer — providing you the opportunity to practice skills and develop confidence with tools.
When you have the other leg seated, the threaded rods will extend father than you want them to. You'll want to mark them so they can be cut to length. Place a washer and a nut on each threaded rod, and then tighten down the nut to pull everything tight. Depending upon the wrench you are using, and how much longer the rod is than it needs to be, you may find it necessary to stack up a number of washers, so that the nut is positioned where the wrench can operate on it.
While our website has the most comprehensive list of all of our tools, sometimes it's nice to flip through the pages of a good old fashioned catalog. This contains only our most popular permanent products that we manufacture just outside of Cleveland, OH. We will be happy to send you one at no charge. Just click the order button below so we can get the address you would like it sent to.
The bench I will be describing differs from both of these in a couple of areas, the most significant of which is the top. Allen's top was made from three layers of 3/4" medium density fiberboard (MDF), topped and edged with 1/4" hardboard. Christiana's top was just two layers of 3/4" MDF. My top is two layers of 3/4" MDF edged with 1/2" oak and topped by a 1-1/2" thick edge-glued oak Ikea countertop. My top is more expensive in both time and money than either Christiana's or Allen's. If you're looking to build something fast and cheap, I'd recommend Allen's approach over Christiana's. The hardboard significantly increases the durability of the top.
I wanted the left edge of the jaw of the front vise to be flush with the left edge of the top, the right edge with the left edge of the left front leg. So the amount of overhang on the left depends upon the width of the front vise jaw. The width of the jaw is, at a minimum, the width of the plate that supports it, but it's normal to make the jaw extend a bit beyond the plate. How far? The more it extends, the deeper a bite you can take with the edge of the vise, when, for example, you are clamping the side of a board being held vertically. But the more it extends, the less support it has. I decided to extend by 1-12", which gives me a 2-1/2" bite, and which should still provide solid support, given that the jaw is 1-1/2" thick. This means the top needs a left overhang of 12-1/4".
I’m building my second bench. I built the first years ago with wood from old machinery pallets – mostly oak and maple. Mortised the legs into the base, and pegged ’em with 1″ dowels. Of course, the legs warped a bit, but that made everything tighter and stronger. The top is 2″ thick Ash, one board cut in half and joined side to side. Wrapped a maple apron around the top, and I think I screwed the top from underneath to the leg braces. Solid. Over time, built a cabinet under for 3 drawers and a small cabinet door. Works for me.
Of all the machines in a workshop, we think two deserve their own books, not just because they possess the greatest potential, but when used incorrectly, are most likely to bite back. Bill Hylton and Fred Matlack’s Woodworking with the Router comes close to being the Router Bible. This tome provides an excellent overview of routers and bits while also explaining how to build and use jigs for router tables and handheld routing. Similarly, Paul Anthony’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Tablesaws gives entry-level and experienced woodworkers the information they need to safely use this workshop workhorse and accomplish more with their saws. Both books have excellent photos and great illustrations.
1. Cabinet Making and Millwork by John L. Feirer. I read this book cover to cover when I first got into woodworking, and its still my number one reference book when researching a project or technique. I believe it was intended as a textbook for a high school shop class, so it's laid out in great 101 style. It includes descriptions of everything from how sandpaper is made to best practices for shop math, and provides details for both hand and power tools.
First, we need to drill out the holes for the screws that will hold them together. While the two layers of MDF are glued, the countertop and the MDF will only be screwed. The oak countertop, like any natural wood product, will expand and contract with humidity changes. If it were glued to the MDF, the difference in expansion of the two layers would cause the countertop to buckle and curl.
If you decide upon construction lumber, you want kiln dry lumber. Green lumber will warp on you as it drys. Dig through the stacks and pick out the straightest, cleanest pieces. Generally, the boards that are sitting loose on the stack are those that other people left behind, as they sorted through looking for better. Be prepared to move them out of the way, and to dig down to the better stock. Be nice, though, and put everything back when you're done.
I used the factory edge of the half-panel of hardboard as a guide for cutting the ply. I wanted to cut a 5-1/2" strip, and my saw cuts 4-1/2" from the edge of the shoe, so I wanted the edge of the hardboard 10" from the edge of the ply. So I set my combination square to 10", and used it to mechanically set the distance. Hint - if you need two things to be precisely the same length, try to avoid measuring them separately. Use some mechanical mechanism for setting the distance.
Olympia Tools is a bit of a lesser known manufacturer. While they offer a wide range of products for a variety of construction fields, they are definitely more of a budget option. That said, Olympia Tools is one of the few brands that manages to produce a reasonable quality at a low price which makes them a solid choice for customers looking to get the best bang for the fewest bucks.