Tom Fidgen, a regular contributor to our maga­zine, works only with hand tools, so he has a slightly different way of looking at a project – and an honest respect for good, old-fashioned hard work. He seems to appreciate the small things in woodworking, gaining great satisfaction from a smoothly planed surface or a strong mor­tise and tenon joint, and it rubs off. Made by Hand takes the reader through the entire process of making six different projects with nothing but hand tools. He talks a lot about the phi­losophy behind his style of working and how you can bring some of the simple life into your next project. He doesn’t hit you over the head with electricity guilt – he realizes that balance is what most people ought to strive for. Tom’s welcoming, open writing style is also a nice surprise. It’s almost like you’re having a conver­sation with him right in your living room, discussing what really matters in woodworking.
Our understanding of what makes pleasing proportion is deeply imprinted in our mind and of all the design elements is the least influenced by one’s cultural experience. Desirable proportion has long been based around ratios we see in nature with an emphasis on the human body. The “golden rectangle,” considered to be divine proportion, has been used since at least the Renaissance period in art and design and has largely influenced our common experience with architecture and design. In fact, we often don’t even see proportion until something is out of proportion.
For one, the bench itself is a good size. While its width as a tad short at just over 1 ½’, the length is a great 5’ long. Even better, this bench is made out of birch wood. Birchwood is similar to beech in that it is strong but soft enough to prevent inadvertent dulling of your tools. However, birch has a bit of an advantage over beech in that it is not a porous which makes staining on the Windsor Design a more worry-free affair.
This bench suffers from no such limitations as it provides an incredibly solid and stable workspace, albeit in a somewhat stripped down version. In terms of performance, Sjobergs tops our list at providing 80 lbs of weight capacity. This is one of the more quantifiable measurements to determine the quality of a work bench’s craftsmanship. This is achieved by using thick pieces of European birch wood and working it without using lower end joints – like butt joints.