A great example that highlights our emotional connection to the rectangle and circle is to look at how these shapes have influenced table design. Rectangle tables have often been used in boardrooms and for formal dinners with, traditionally, the most important person being seated at the head of the table, which can perhaps create an instant hierarchy. A solution to this perceived inequality may have been found in the design of the round table, much favoured by King Arthur who considered his knights as equals.


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.
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.

When the shelf was full, we called the list done. The results of that debate is the list of books that follows (publishers listed are for the editions we own). It’s by no means a perfect list. It is a list that would probably change a bit if we had the debate again in a couple months. Some of these are classics, some are contemporary. But these are the books that are first in our hearts.
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.

Woodturning: A Foundation Course When I decided to go beyond just turning writing pens, I turned to this book to help broaden my knowledge of woodturning. You will learn the tools of the trade and sharpening techniques for your turning tools. It introduces several turning projects like bowls, pepper mills, and table lamps. You also learn how to sand and finish your turned creations.
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.

My woodworking mentor, Robert Van Norman, studied under the esteemed woodworker James Krenov. Robert remembers many of JK’s wise words, especially “trust your eye”. When it was time for me to hear those words, I remember feeling such relief and permission to embrace my inherent perspicacity. Intuition is essential in the design and creation process, and for developing work that reflects the maker beyond his or her technical skill alone. At times, the craftsperson is called on to explain the aesthetics of his design and saying “it just feels right” doesn’t always cut it. This article covers seven common design considerations, their definition and how they are generally accepted and understood. Not only will the article help increase design vocabulary and awareness, but it may also assist in problem solving and recognizing the aesthetic strengths and weaknesses of a furniture piece.
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.

My advice? Don't do this. If you have jointer and a planer, use them. If you don't, seriously consider using dimensional lumber that has already been planed and sanded. If you are going to try to clean up construction lumber by hand, using a hand plane is a lot faster and more pleasant than using a belt sander. Except, of course, that to do a good job of planing a board you need a solid bench to hold the board, and you don't have a bench, yet.


I ended up making a number of practice cuts. The first revealed that I hadn't tightened the screws on the edge guide enough. The second revealed that the design of the edge guide provided very little support at the end of a board, because of the cut-out for the router bit. In the "Getting Started in Woodworking" video, they had screwed a piece of hardwood to the edge-guide, to provide a continuous -- and longer -- bearing surface. I may do that myself, some day, but I didn't have the materials at hand, so I clamped some 2x4 scrap to the end of each board, to provide a continuous bearing surface past the ends. The two grooves in the long stretchers and the side groove in the short stretchers have identical layout. I made practice cuts in scrap until I had the edge guide set correctly, then I cut them all with that one setting. The bottom groove of the short stretchers uses a different setup, so it was back to the scrap, before cutting them.
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Chris I blame you for all these altars that are being built today and now you thinks we over thinks ’em–huh. You whipped the masses into a frenzy— now Woodworkers are trying to out pretty each other–out wood species each other –out Rube Goldberg each other. I made 2 benches in 30 years neither had a through dovetail but many were made on them and I have no idea but I would bet a dollar that neither weighed 280 pounds but they both had tons of wood on them. If you want the bench as a destination god bless but it was intended as a mean. Thats my rant I could be wrong
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.

A bewildering variety of tools, clever marketing copy, and lack of knowledge can lead even the most determined new woodworker to make many unnecessary purchases, causing frustration or retreat. Written for true beginners, Your First Shop offers inspiration and encouragement, guiding readers toward smart tool choices by providing realistic, reliable information. Best-selling author Aimé Ontario Fraser started working with wood in high school, and has taught extensively in workshops and classes since. Your First Shop brings that experience to readers. Woodworkers of every taste can find a shop style that works for them in one of the book’s four sections: The Essential Shop, The Basic Shop, The Efficient Shop, and The Well-Rounded Shop. Topics include how each tool is used and what it is used for. The book also offers extensive advice on choosing a location for the shop, maximizing available space, and planning for future expansion.
Happy bench building folks. I hope you make it your own and not worry too much about what someone else thinks it should be. Use the rules as a guideline, they have validity, but make it your own in the end. If the rules fit you that’s great, if they don’t quite fit you then make it to fit yourself. It’s you using it, not some guy making a nice living off of telling you how he thinks you should do it. One size does not fit all. Never has, never will.

Tools: I am inspired by tools, whether the tool is a good chef’s knife, a watercolor paintbrush or a lowly marking gauge. I find 18th-century tools particularly beautiful and elegant in their simplicity. To openly admit I am inspired by my tools makes me somewhat of a kook. But here, amongst friends, I suspect I am not alone. I’ve copied many tools in these books and sought tools that resembled these and been a happier person for it.

Contrast is created when you have two or more related elements that are different. Contrast can be used to add visual interest, depth and to highlight a dominant element. It is also a way to unite a piece and often bestows energy to a design. If there are too many contrasts or the differences are too severe, there is risk they will not only compete for attention, but may also create unbalance, confuse the viewer and create optical illusions. To achieve success with contrast, ensure the differences are obvious enough, but without an overpowering presence. Each design element mentioned in this article can be manipulated to create contrast. Each of the images not only relate to the corresponding element but also exhibit contrast.

“Introducing a new woodworking series in the tradition of Tage Frid…a series filled with essential information required by woodworkers today. For the first time ever, all the techniques and processes necessary to craft beautiful things from wood have been compiled into three comprehensive volumes: The Complete Illustrated Guides. Highly visual and written by woodworking’s finest craftsmen, these three titles — Furniture & Cabinet Construction, Shaping Wood, and Joinery — will establish a new standard for shop reference books.

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 bench I will be describing differs from both of these in a couple of areas, the most significant of which is the top. Allen's top was made from three layers of 3/4" medium density fiberboard (MDF), topped and edged with 1/4" hardboard. Christiana's top was just two layers of 3/4" MDF. My top is two layers of 3/4" MDF edged with 1/2" oak and topped by a 1-1/2" thick edge-glued oak Ikea countertop. My top is more expensive in both time and money than either Christiana's or Allen's. If you're looking to build something fast and cheap, I'd recommend Allen's approach over Christiana's. The hardboard significantly increases the durability of the top.
With the shelf secure, get a couple of friends to come help, and stand the bench on its feet. I said earlier moving the top by yourself is dangerous. Trying to lift the entire bench is foolhardy. Of course, I already said I'm stubborn, so I did it myself by rigging a simple block-and-tackle using lightweight pulleys I got at the hardware store. (Not the lightest-weight pulleys, those are meant for flag poles and have a design load of something like 40 pounds. These had a design load of 420 pounds.)
Of course, few benches can be ideal, and this one does have some drawbacks. That being said, most of the disadvantages of this bench are minor annoyances rather than deal breakers. For instance, this bench does not include any kind of storage whatsoever. Though, it does have the option of adding numerous additional features like a storage area. Still, for the bench, you would expect a drawer at the very least, maybe a shelf below the main table area.
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