For those who would like to have the benefit of a woodworker’s extensive experience with hand tools, this is the book to own. Crammed with practical information, it is the next best thing to looking over a craftsman’s shoulder as he works with his tools, asking questions and getting straight answers in plain language, seeing how each tool is held and manipulated to get the best work out of it. From bit brace, chisel, and mallet to saws, specialized planes, drawknife, and spokeshave, Aldren Watson describes in detail the actions of the tools basic to good woodworking. All the procedures are explicitly illustrated with handsome line drawings, and an appendix gives plans and dimensions for making a workbench and other necessary pieces of shop equipment.”
Being a lover of Japanese design and tools, I’m embarrassed to say I only picked this book up in the last year. I was anticipating a straightforward, almost encyclopaedic, approach documenting the history and use of most Japanese woodworking tools. I got that, but also so much more. The stories Odate tells of his youth and apprenticeship are truly jaw-dropping, and reveal as much about working wood in Japan as what life in a fascinating and secluded Pacific country was like when he was young. I was five minutes into this book, and I guess I had an astonished look on my face, when my wife politely asked how I was enjoying the book. I looked up in bewilderment, paused for about five seconds, and said “It would take me an hour to explain what I’ve learned in the last five minutes,” and went on reading. Even though this book has been around for decades, it’s worth reading today.
Having done all this, I'm not sure I'd do it this way again. It might well be faster to layout the positions with compass and straightedge directly onto the top. Either way, you'll want to use a scribe rather than a pencil. Scribe lines are hard to see, and impossible to photograph, but the scribe and compass points click into them, allowing a precision that pencils simply cannot match.
Put the countertop on the base, put the MDF on top of the countertop, and line up the marks you drew on each end of the MDF with the countertop below it. When you have it lined up, clamp things down, and route the edge of the MDF using a 1-1/2" or longer flush-trim bit, with the depth adjusted so the bearing rides on the countertop. I clamped a couple of scraps of doubled MDF at each end to give the router base something extra to ride on at the ends.
I decided to make my own top out of white ash because I had access to a planer and jointer at my local college where I was taking an intro woodworking class. Trim and vice jaws are white ash as well. Everything else is built pretty much as jdege describes. A plunge router with a 3/4" spiral up bit really made quick work of the dog holes. Finished with Danish oil.
Cut 15 top boards 5 ft. long and rip them to 3 in. wide with a table saw so the top will glue up flat without the typical rounded edges of 2x4s. For the leg slot, cut two of the top boards into three pieces: a 39-in. middle piece and two 7-in. end pieces. Glue and screw the top together, one board at a time, with 3-in. deck screws, keeping the ripped edge facing up and level with the adjoining boards. Use a corded drill so there’s plenty of oomph to drive each screw below the surface. Note that the third glue-up from each end is where each leg notch is inserted. You can also create a nifty tool tray in the top by notching the three top pieces with a jigsaw. Clamp every 8 in. or so before driving in the 3-in.deck screws. Predrill the screw holes near the ends to prevent splitting. When you’re screwing on the 7-in. long 2x4s to create the leg slots, use a scrap piece of 2×4 as a spacer.
Two for turners. Turners often develop needs and interests that are different than other woodworkers. Richard Raffan’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Turning offers one of the best overviews of the craft, as taught by a skilled artisan. As turners explore new ways to get a grip on different projects, they’ll appreciate Doc Green’s Fixtures and Chucks. This book explains how to get the most from commercial chucks, centers and faceplates and how to make your own.
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Whether you’re setting up a new shop or upgrading your old one, a good, sturdy workbench will almost surely be central to your plans. We can help. Our editors and contributors have produced more than two dozen articles and videos about benches and assembly tables. We’ve included everything from a simple but workable plywood bench to a classic hardwood bench complete with vises. You’ll also find full project plans, as well as tips for installing vises, making your bench portable, adding storage, and more. Some of our workbench plans are free, and the rest can be purchased in our store (check the links below).
Beyond the weight capacity, the Grizzly is also the largest table top on our list and in more ways than one. For a workspace, the Grizzly provides 5’ of length by 2 ½’ of width. There is not another table that really comes close to that size. Another size advantage of the Grizzly bench is the table top’s thickness. While the standard thickness of the table top for a quality woodworking bench is 1” with lesser models often offering only ¾” of thickness, the Grizzly provides a 1 ½” thick table top.