efore you cut your first board, you must have a design to achieve the results you're after. To create a workable design, you must understand important properties of the wood you will be using, methods for joining that wood, typical construction techniques that are appropriate for the type of project you are building, styles of craftsmanship that will enhance and compliment the environment where this project will be used, and finally how to think through and plan a project.
As simple as its elements are, the workbench is more than a tabletop with legs, a well, and a few holes. Virtually everything in the workshop comes to rest on the bench at some point, even if only between operations at other stations. Planning and layout, cutting and shaping, assembling and finishing–all can be, and often are, performed on the benchtop. The better the design, and the better suited its size and configuration to your labors, the more efficient a tool it will be.
The best way to use this article is to visually break the furniture piece down with reference to the categories listed. On a piece of paper, write down the main focus or core of the piece and place it beside the project. With a critical eye, question whether all the elements support the main goal. Ask why you have designed it this way. For example, if the main focus is to have a comfortable chair, you might want to consider which lines, texture or colours visually inspire people to think the chair is comfortable and stable even before they sit in it.
David Ellsworth has been refining his style for years and now, with his first book, you get to see exactly how the “grandfather” of turning does it. Offering more than just turning information, a number of chapters in this book discuss topics that non-turners will be interested in. Having said that, turning is the main focus here. Ellsworth speaks to what he knows best – an open bowl, a natural-edge bowl and the highlight of the book, a hollow vessel with an impossibly small opening. He also covers basics like sharpening, design, finishing and more. One chapter even details the stresses that turning puts on the human body and how to get the most from this overlooked “tool”. A crucial read for a wood-turner and an enlightening read for a woodworker.
The Workshop Book: A Craftsman's Guide to Making the Most of Any Work Space by Scott Landis. This is not a new book - it was written in 1987. And the photographs reflect that. But what it lacks in that flip-through-the-pictures-and-get-major-workspace-envy, it makes up for in the actual text. It provides, mostly, creative solutions for a variety of different tasks from real professionals working in limited space. If you're interested in upgrading your space or building your dream shop from scratch, this really is a good place to start. It doesn't have a ton of up-to-date and practical advice; its more of a reflection on the nature of workshops in all their variety. And that never goes out of style.
The base needs to be as wide as the sum of width of the guide strip and the distance from the edge of the shoe, plus a bit extra, With my saw, the overhang is 3-1/2", so I made my guide strip 5-1/2" wide. The distance between from the edge of the shoe to the blade is about 4-1/2", so the base needs to be at least 10" wide. Since I was working with a 24" wide sheet, I just sliced it down the middle.
There are a number of tricks to using a router. First, the bit spins in a clockwise direction, as you look down at the router from the top. This means that when you cut with the router from left to right, the bit will tend to pull the router away from you, and when you route from right to left, the router will pull towards you. So, if you're hooking the edge guide along the near side of the board, route from left to right, and when you're hooking it along the far side of the board, route from right to left. Second, always test the position of your bit on scrap material. Your odds of getting it exactly right by eye are nil. Third, don't cut more than 1/4" deep on a single pass. We want a 3/8" deep grove, so make your first pass at 3/16", or thereabouts, and make a second pass to reach the full depth.
Permanent or Portable? This is a distinction that decides much about your bench choice: Is it to remain stationary or must it fold, roll, or otherwise make itself scarce between jobs? Large, heavy benches are more stable and, in general, more adaptable to different jobs (sometimes several at once). But the bigger the bench, the more hassle involved with stowing it.
The edges of MDF are fragile, easily crushed or torn. MDF is also notorious for absorbing water through these edges, causing the panels to swell. In Sam Allen's original design, he edged the MDF with 1/4" hardboard. This edging is one of the complexities that Asa Christiana left out in his simplified design. I think this was a mistake. MDF really needs some sort of protection, especially on the edges.
Woodworker’s Visual Handbook. This is a book for people like me, who can understand an idea faster if they see it than read about it. Woodworker’s Visual Handbook has more than 1,300 illustrations and 430 pages of advice that visually explain such issues as how to install smooth-sliding drawers in frame-and-panel cabinets, how to lay out a complicated project and cut the joints, and the pros and cons of working with more than 60 species of wood (a topic on which author Jon Arno was an expert). There’s even a section on furniture styles, another topic Jon knew well.
A better solution would have been to route a rabbet into the side, so that the added strip always had thickness. The way I did it means that the strip I glued in is very narrow, and hence very weak, at a certain point. In this case, that's not a problem, because it's going to be sitting under the countertop layer. I also noticed that because I had only clamped the strip down, and not into the edge, there was a noticeable glue gap where the strip butted up against the MDF. Again, in this application it isn't visible. But if I was doing something like this on the top of a table, I'd make sure to cut a clean rabbet, and to clamp both down and in.
Once you have all the clamps on, take off the scraps of hardboard. You can clean up the glue squeezeout with a damp rag.. When the glue is dry, trim down the strip flush with the panel using a router and a flush-trim bit. Then cut off the ends of the strip with a flush-cut saw, and clean up with a block plane, an edge scraper, or a sanding block. Leaving the ends in place while you route the edge helps support the router.
“This hardcover book with internal spiral binding is 6.5in x 8in, a perfect size for carpenters and woodworkers to keep near their workbench or toolbox for quick access.The design of this book allows it to lay open flat, which allows for easy and frequent reference, and the interior photographs, illustrations and diagrams, make the learning process simple and fun for beginners, and provides useful tips for more advanced readers.
Another odd design feature of the Windsor Design is its dog holes. While this bench provides a variety of dog holes and even offers numerous pegs and dowels to go along with it, the dog holes are not spaced as closely or with as much variation as you see with many other benches. Ultimately, this means that smaller workpieces may not be able to use the dog holes and pegs as well.