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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.
Be careful. Single 24x60" sheets of 3/4" MDF are pretty easy to lift. A doubled sheet is manageable. The countertop - 24x72" panel of 1-1/2" oak - weighs something over 100 pounds. It takes real care to lift safely. The joined top - 3" thick of oak and MDF - is past the range that can be lifted safely by one person. Don't try. Get a friend to help, or rig a block-and-tackle.
Begin by cutting off a 10-in. length of the board and setting it aside. Rip the remaining 38-in. board to 6 in. wide and cut five evenly spaced saw kerfs 5/8 in. deep along one face. Crosscut the slotted board into four 9-in. pieces and glue them into a block, being careful not to slop glue into the saw kerfs (you can clean them out with a knife before the glue dries). Saw a 15-degree angle on one end and screw the plywood piece under the angled end of the block.
When the top is done, we want the edged MDF and the oak countertop to have exactly the same dimensions, and for their width to exactly match the width of the base.I could see three ways of doing this: 1, join the MDF to the countertop and use my belt sander to sand down their joined edges to match the base; 2, join the MDF to the countertop and use a hand plane to plane down their joined edges to match the base; or 3, use a flush-trim bit against a straight edge to route the MDF to the width of the base, then join the MDF to the countertop and use the flush-trim bit to route the countertop to match the MDF.
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.
Over 1,400 color photos and drawings illustrate the methods, from simple butt joints to angled tenons and complex scarf joints. A project as simple as a box, for example, has a dozen ways to solve the joinery question. And, since many joints can be used interchangeably, Joinery leads you through making the right choice for your project based on the function of the piece, the time you have to work on it, your skill level, and your tooling.
Here's the great thing about woodworking... it really hasn't changed much over the last few decades, even centuries. Sure, there are new tools and technologies that make things come together faster, light-weight power tools that cause less fatigue, and safety improvement measures like that table saw that stops if you put your tongue on it. But the techniques are classic, and the purpose and design of hand tools are the same as they were for our grandparent's generation, and their grandparents before. All of which means - there's some staple, go-to techniques and joints and processes that every woodworker should know, and you don't have to make sure your sources are up-to-date before you seek out the best way to cut a mortise.
I'd decided on an oil-and-wax finish. Oil finishes are by no means the toughest. In fact, they're really rather pathetic, so far as protecting the wood goes. But they're easy to apply, and not even the toughest finish will stand up to the abuse that a workbench will suffer, so it's more important that it be easy to repair. Wax is usually used to add a high gloss. On a bench, it's there to keep glue from sticking.
If you’re looking for something fun, funky and functional, you’ll find it in your Kotula’s catalog. We’re relentless in our pursuit of the good stuff which means you can count on your Kotula’s catalog to be your personal cornucopia of cool. Kotula’s has gifts and gizmos, tools and time savers, low prices and great value. Request your free catalog today.
Projects to build on. Korn's book includes basic projects that you can put your own spin on. This Shaker footstool was inspired by one of the projects in his book. The last side-table project in his book (pictured) has the same pedigree as these two other FW projects: Tim Rousseau's small cherry cabinet and Stephen Hammer's small stand with coopered panels.
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.
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I made a low table out of a couple of step-stools, my hollow-core door, and one of the MDF panels that would eventually form part of my top. I was concerned that any oil that dripped on the door might interfere with its glue adhesion, when I finally get around to the project for which I'd purchased it. The top side of the top sheet of MDF, though, I planned to oil, anyway. (Ditto for the bottom side of the bottom sheet.
Cut the 6-1/2-in. x 3-in. lid from the leftover board, and slice the remaining piece into 1/4-in.-thick pieces for the sides and end of the box. Glue them around the plywood floor. Cut a rabbet on three sides of the lid so it fits snugly on the box and drill a 5/8-in. hole for a finger pull. Then just add a finish and you’ve got a beautiful, useful gift. If you don’t have time to make a gift this year, consider offering to do something for the person. You could offer to sharpen their knives! Here’s how.
The reason I'd cut out the rectangles in the vise support was that I'd intended to put a benchdog hole through each, and I wanted the thickness of the top to be the same for all of the benchdog holes. Where I messed up was in not cutting out the ends, between the bolt tabs. I'd intended to put a benchdog hole through there, as well, but I'd forgotten to cut out the segments prior to glue0up.
Pen Turner’s Workbook. If you’ve followed my blog for long, you already know that pen turning is my favorite woodworking hobby. Barry Gross is a superstar in the pen turning world, and his pens speak volumes on his craftsmanship and creativity. If you want to learn the basics of pen turning, or if you want to learn some advanced techniques, this book will not disappoint you. He takes you step-by-step through the pen making process, and the book’s photography is phenomenal.
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.
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.
Once you start spreading glue, you have maybe five minutes to get the two panels mated, aligned, and clamped together. So make sure you have everything on-hand, and you're not gong to be interrupted. Start squeezing out the glue on one MDF panel, and spreading it around in a thin, even coating, making sure you leave no bare areas. Then do the same to the other MDF panel. Then pick up the bottom panel and flip it over onto the upper panel. Slide it around some to make sure the glue is spread evenly, then line up one corner and drive in a screw. Line up the opposite corner and drive in a screw there. Clamp all four corners to your flat surface, then start driving the rest of the screws, in a spiral pattern from the center.
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.
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.
I made a template by scribing two adjoining squares on a piece of MDF, using compass and straightedge, then marking each corner with a centerpunch, then drilling the points with a 1/16" bit. I find I'm always breaking small bits, so I picked up a couple of each size some months ago, and on looking I found I had three 1/16" bits, which worked fine for what I intended.
I'd intentionally made it oversize, intending to trim it flush. Trimming is a little more complicated than usual, because I needed to trim it flush on two faces. The end face extended a good 3/8", so I cut off most of the excess with a circular saw and the edge guide, then flipped the edge guide upside down to make a stable platform for the router. Aside from the use of the edge guide, flush trimming the edge face was unremarkable.
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.