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.
Aside from the privacy it offers, a latticework porch trellis is a perfect way to add major curb appeal to your home for $100 or less. The trellis shown here is made of cedar, but any decay-resistant wood like redwood, cypress or treated pine would also be a good option. Constructed with lap joints for a flat surface and an oval cutout for elegance, it’s a far upgrade from traditional premade garden lattice. As long as you have experience working a router, this project’s complexity lies mostly in the time it takes to cut and assemble. Get the instructions complete with detailed illustrations here.
I just got this book a few days ago, and I've had a hard time putting it down. There are lots of full-color pictures, with thorough descriptions of almost every aspect of woodworking. I've already learned a lot about different types of wood, how to make several kinds of cuts with several kinds of tools (including suggestions for what to do even though I don't have a large selection of power tools), and have some projects picked out to start as soon as I can get the lumber! It is a very thorough book, unlike several others I looked through at my local bookstore. I would highly recommend it to anyone who's interested in woodworking! It is both fun and informative. Almost half of this substantial book is general background information and instruction, including a detailed glossary, and the rest is a good selection of detailed, well-illustrated plans.
Professional woodworker Jim Tolpin offers solid instruction on the principles of measurement and proportion, walking you through every step of the woodworking process. From design and layout to developing a cutting list, his easy-to-follow style introduces a variety of tools (new and old) used to transfer measurements accurately to the wood. You’ll learn the best cutting techniques, how to prevent mistakes before they happen, and for those unavoidable mistakes, you’ll learn how to fix them so no one will know!
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.
A workbench needs to be heavy enough that it doesn't move under you while you're working, and stiff enough that it doesn't rack itself to pieces under the forces that will be placed upon it. It doesn't take many hours of planing a board or hammering a chisel for a worktable made of nailed 2x4s to come apart. Traditional bench designs use mortise-and-tenon joinery, which is strong and rigid, but not really suited for a novice woodworker who doesn't already have a bench.
Editor’s note: In the September/October 2017 issue (which mails to subscribers on Aug. 1), we have an article from up-and-coming makers on the books that have influenced their work and woodworking philosophy. Below is a similar article we ran in June 2011, asking established makers what they felt were the most important woodworking books, plus we included our staff picks. I’ve linked to our store for the ones we carry, some of which are now available only as eBooks, and to those from Lost Art Press. For titles that are out of print, I recommend Bookfinder.com, or better yet, your local used bookstores. Or, ya know, the library.
Even in today’s world of electric machinery, when most people were asked to name a woodworking tool, planes and scrapers would probably be at the top of the list. They are as useful now as they were years ago but, because of their electrified cousins, they are often overlooked in favour of a faster option. In this compre­hensive book, John English explains what each type of plane is for, how to set it up for optimal performance and how to use it. The text is thorough and the photos are informative. All in all, this is a good read for a beginning or intermediate woodworker. Or a woodworker who simply never gave hand planes and scrapers a fair shake.
Thanks! Great information. As an advanced novice worker, I finally decided to build my first bench a couple years ago. After reading several of your blogs knowing full well mortised dove tale leg joinery is yet beyond my capability, I elected to build Robert Lang’s “21st Century Workbench”. I also chose his VERITAS Twin Screw Vise in the face vise position. Used an old Craftsman face vise in the tail vise position. Constructed of laminated 9/4 x 31/2″ Pecan and 60″ long because of my small crowed shop. Super happy to this point. As I mature in woodworking I may live to construct one of a different choice at a latter date, but I’m 73 so we’ll see. Thanks again for the advise.
In terms of size, this bench is another Sjobergs that is a bit on the small side, though it is actually far more squared than some others. While its length is a bit disappointing at 54″, the width is over 24″ wide which does provide for more diverse projects. Even better, this product still features the incredibly 500-pound weight capacity and continues the Sjobergs trend of avoiding joints that are not as durable as they otherwise could be.
I find furniture takes on new meaning when separated from the sterility of an art museum (such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s American Wing. Maybe that’s why I prefer the museum’s period rooms). Jeffrey P. Greene’s book is perhaps my favorite of recent period woodworking texts for its ambition and helpful exploded diagrams of furniture in its appendix.
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.
I was raised by crafty people. In every sense of the word. Just kidding! My parents were lovely people who loved to work with their hands in their spare time. For a brief period of time as a kid my mom even earned a living by selling her wares at local craft fairs, but for the most part their crafting was a hobby that filled our home with beautiful and practical pieces of woodworking.

To develop the material, we editors asked ourselves—and dozens of top woodworkers—what’s likely to go wrong at each stage of a project. We really dug deep to make sure we didn’t just repeat the types of advice you see in the average magazine. We ended up with a list of more than 500 problems covering everything from design and layout, to stock preparation, joinery, finishing and more. Then, we reached out to top woodworkers around the country for their solutions. The result was a 320-page book filled with some of the best advice you could ever find from more than 75 master craftsmen, including Marc Adams, Mike Dunbar, Graham Blackburn, Toshio Odate, David Marks, Frank Klausz and Lonnie Bird.
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.
I clamped the top to the side of the base, as I had done before, so that the edge with the knot would be easy to work with. I mixed up some ordinary five-minute epoxy and added just a touch of black epoxy pigment. I applied this freely. After about twenty minutes I checked on it and found that in the deepest spot the void wasn't entirely filled, so I mixed up another batch and added more. After that had cured for a bit I eased the top to the floor and applied a coat of oil to the bottom side. I planned on attaching the base to the top the next day, and I wanted the bottom side oiled to keep it from absorbing moisture.

I will admit, I'm not a pyrography genius. In fact the last time used a woodburning tool, it was Christmas Day and was about five years old. It didn’t go well. A lot has changed since then. The tools have improved, there is a large and growing group of wood­burning artists and there are great books to show you the basics and inspire you to pick up the art of pyrography. Woodburning with Style is the perfect book if you’re just learning. Not only will it teach you about the equipment available, it covers decorative tech­niques, lettering, portraits and more, before providing a chapter of inspirational projects and photographs to really get your imagina­tion going. Pyrography is an art in itself but can also be used in conjunction with turnings, carvings or furniture making.
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.

Dark colours appear heavier and create a feeling of stability, whereas light colours hold less visual weight and can appear unstable. When joining woods of dark and light colour, the visual effect of heavy and light suggest that darker woods work better when used on the bottom. A suggestion from my mentor to help getting proportions right was to spray paint mock-ups with a colour similar to the woods to be used later.

The bench would end up being about 5 feet long. I thought about cutting 5 feet out of my 8 feet long countertop and use the rest for a small support table. However, after a consideration, I decided to bypass the front vise altogether together with the overhang so my bench will be 4 feet long. This allows me to skip the MDF and just glue the two halves of the 8 feet board together.
Originally published at the turn of the twentieth century by an anonymous “Practical Joiner,” Woodwork Joints: How to Make and Where to Use Them remains an incredibly useful and practical guide for deciding which joints to use and how to make them the right way for carpentry, joinery, and cabinet-making. Here is the carefully illustrated source on joinery that not simply a collectible classic, but also a requisite and invaluable tool that withstands the test of time, containing more useful information than any other woodworking guide. Inside are illustrated instructions for making all kinds of joints, from simple to complex, suitable for novices and experts. The comprehensive list includes joints such as glued; halved; bridle; tongued and grooved; mortise and tenon; dowelling; scarf; hinged; shutting; dovetail and many more. Instructions specify which tools are required (i.e., planes, gauges, saws, chisels, the try square for testing purposes, etc.) and how to use them on each joint. Extensive chapters on each type of joint contain precise illustrations that make identifying joints for different purposes easy. Not a word is wasted in this short but entirely comprehensive guide, making Woodwork Joints the perfect aid for any joinery project.
Planing up some beautiful walnut for a charcuterie board this afternoon. I’ve been getting a lot of requests for some videos with tool-specific demos, and first on the list is how to properly sharpen and tune a handplane for efficient use. I’ll cover everything from what stones to buy to which jigs you need/don’t need. What other questions would you like to see get answered? #woodworking #handtools #shareknowledge #sharpening #buildlikeagirl #preservetradition

Drill four 5/8-in.-dia. 1/2-in.-deep holes on the large disc?inside the traced circle?then use 5/8-in. dowel centers to transfer the hole locations to the underside of the small disc. Drill four 1/2-in.-deep holes on the underside of the small disc and a 1/2-in.-deep hole in the center of the top for the dowel handle. Glue in the dowels to join the discs, and glue in the handle. We drilled a wood ball for a handle knob, but a screw-on ceramic knob also provides a comfortable, attractive grip.
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.
The next day, cut it flush. Use a block plane to ensure it truly is flush. This will be the top of the bottom layer of the bench top, so gouges aren't a problem. (Wiping up glue with a damp cloth can lead to stains and finishes applying unevenly. That won't be a problem here, either.) But bulges and bumps are a problem - they will keep the two layers of the top from matching up evenly.

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.


Ok, I’ve had my morning coffee and now it’s about time to get out to the shop to see what I can do to make that bench a little more pleasing to my eye. I like that Craftsman flair idea. That was my intent at the time I built it, too bad I got lazy and rushed the job. It’s not like I was going to make hundreds of benches for someone else and would never see it again. I should have taken the time to make it the way I wanted it to look. This could keep me entertained for awhile. I see major surgery in the forecast! Gotta plan it all out just right.
2 - use a plunge router with a bottom bearing cuter bit such as this from rockler: http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=25160&site=ROCKLER .... I thought to use the short one as I plunge it directly downward in the centre of the hole until the bearing reaches within the tabletop hole. I suppose one could use a long one, but the stubbiness seemed more practical (the big bearing ensured accuracy?)
The latest edition of this highly regarded instructional manual. See the great reader reviews posted for the previous editions. With this book and a weekend of your time you can make a plane and learn to use it effectively. You’ll also discover a wealth of general woodworking tips and acquire a solid grounding in many fundamentals of fine woodworking. Now in its third printing, “Making and Mastering Wood Planes” by master craftsman David Finck is the definitive book in the field and a classic introduction to the art of fine woodworking.

“The Wheelwright’s Shop” by George Sturt (Cambridge UP). Here is the real deal. At the turn of the 19th century, a guy comes back from college when his father falls ill and can no longer manage the old family wheelwright business alone. He realizes that he has stepped into a vanishing world of “kindly feeling” when the “grain in the wood told secrets to men.” Thanks to Sturt, the old English way with wood is still alive in the pages of this remarkable book.

2 - use a plunge router with a bottom bearing cuter bit such as this from rockler: http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=25160&site=ROCKLER .... I thought to use the short one as I plunge it directly downward in the centre of the hole until the bearing reaches within the tabletop hole. I suppose one could use a long one, but the stubbiness seemed more practical (the big bearing ensured accuracy?)


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.
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