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.


Of course, I, on the other hand, with my Ikea oak countertop, probable went overboard in the other direction. Since I needed to trim the countertop to width,I figured I'd take off a couple of 1/2" strips to use for edging the MDF. I clamped the countertop to my bench base, and used the long cutting guide. I'd asked around for advice on cutting this large a piece of oak, and was told to try a Freud Diablo 40-tooth blade in my circular saw. I found one at my local home center, at a reasonable price, and it worked very well.


Next is the shelf. Start with the 24x48" piece of MDF. Clamp this on top of the base, and pencil in the outside of the stretchers and the inside angle of the legs. Flip it over, pull out your trusty cutting guide, and cut it to width and to length. Cutting out the angles is simple, with a jig saw. It's not much work with a hand saw. If you took enough care with supporting blocks and stops, you could probably do it with a circular saw. Since I did have a jig saw, I used 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. 
Anyway, the reason I bring all this up is not to brag, but to alert you to a great deal. Recently, we had a chance to acquire the last print copies of these five books, which were sitting, overlooked, in a warehouse. The books mainly have black and white interiors and beautiful hand-drawn illustrations. And every one offers more than 300 pages of excellent advice on woodworking projects and techniques.
There’s a lot of space above the shelf in most closets. Even though it’s a little hard to reach, it’s a great place to store seldom-used items. Make use of this wasted space by adding a second shelf above the existing one. Buy enough closet shelving material to match the length of the existing shelf plus enough for two end supports and middle supports over each bracket. Twelve-inch-wide shelving is available in various lengths and finishes at home centers and lumberyards.
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.
Sjobergs’ woodworking benches are recognized all over the world for their durability, handy design and extra features that make these benches well worth the money. This Hobby Plus bench is the perfect fit for a woodworking enthusiast, especially since it is equipped with two vices and bench dogs. This could become your one and only woodworking station!
“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.
I know, if you had a workbench, you wouldn't be building a workbench. Even so, you'll need some sort of work surface, even if it isn't as stable or capable as a proper bench. The traditional solution is to throw a hollow-core door over a couple of saw horses. The advantage of hollow core doors is that they're flat, stiff, and cheap. I used a folding table and a hollow core door I had bought for a future project.
This time I surprised one of my favorite dice games and took it outside. I made a set of wooden dice in just a few hours, and instead of sitting in the room and doing nothing, we are taking our dice game out into the yard. With this set of wooden dice, dice games are becoming our favorite backyard game. Check out the step by step tutorial below so you can make your own.
First, cut one long edge. Second, cut a short edge, making sure it's square to the long edge you just cut. Clamp both pieces of the edging you'll be using along the long edge you've cut, and measure the width of the base plus 1/4-1/2", mark that, and then lay out a line through the mark that is square to the end you've cut, then cut along the line. Finally, cut the remaining short edge square to both long edges. (The length of the top doesn't need to precisely match anything, so we don't need to bother with clamping the trim before measuring.)

There’s a lot of space above the shelf in most closets. Even though it’s a little hard to reach, it’s a great place to store seldom-used items. Make use of this wasted space by adding a second shelf above the existing one. Buy enough closet shelving material to match the length of the existing shelf plus enough for two end supports and middle supports over each bracket. Twelve-inch-wide shelving is available in various lengths and finishes at home centers and lumberyards.
If you’re looking for fresh, simple proj­ects that have a rustic touch to them, this is the book for you. Lubkemann has a way of finding a project in just about every part of a tree; from candle-holders, photo frames and salt shakers to coat trees, lamps and a checkers set, there are projects big and small. Whether you’re looking for some gift ideas or you want the odd project to keep you busy over the winter, I’m sure you will find something here.
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.
I am surprised the the Hand and Eye combo by Tolpin didn’t make anyone’s list. I have also really found Chris Schwartz’s Anarchist’s design book very useful. Everything else that I really like is already in here somewhere; Moxon, Roubo, Estonia, Peart. The beginners book by Wearing is excellent, and I have taken to giving it to Eagle scouts at their Eagle Courts of Honor of late. (with an inscription about taking the raw stuff of life and developing the skills and tools to make from it what you need…); cheesy, I know, but it is a really good book to start folks off with.
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.
I mocked up the two scenarios, and determined that with the plate inside the stretcher the vise would have a reach of 8 inches, and with it outside the stretcher it would have a reach of 9 inches. I decided that 8 inches was enough, and that the extra inch wasn't worth the extra effort. With the end vise mounted like this, the right edge of the top would have no overhang.
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.
Drilling a precisely positioned, deep, wide hole isn't easy, without a drill press. So I bought a WolfCraft drill guide. After experimenting with it, and drilling some test holes, I build a jig around it. I screwed it to a scrap of MDF, and then drilled a carefully-centered 3/4" hole. The MDF can be clamped more easily than the base itself, and the 3/4" hole will keep a 3/4" Forstner bit drilling precisely where it is supposed to.

All glue & stain benches are made using a solid maple frame for lasting durability and strength. Side Clamp Benches are made specifically for bar clamps, and are used for gluing projects or clamp storage. Benches feature an open top with 17 sets of 3/4"W grooves that accept bar clamps measuring 3’ and over. Lower center rail is adaptable for storage of hand screws and C-clamps. Side clamp benches are available with or without a drip pan. Glue & Stain Benches are made with a 1-1/4” plywood top covered with heavy-coated galvanized steel. Bottom shelf has a 4” rear retaining lip. Glue and stain benches are available with or without casters. Limited Lifetime Warranty.


This book was put together to introduce people to the world of carving, and I think it does a great job. Starting with tool selection, sharpening and other important, but often overlooked as­pects of the craft, it moves on to discuss chip, relief and sculptural carving. With a chapter on surface decoration as well as a section of scaled patterns to get you started, this book has a bit of everything. And even if you’re not interested in traditional carving projects, the skills learned in this book will introduce you to techniques that can be used to add texture to your next furni­ture project.

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.


Woodworkers like books. Maybe it’s because they’re somehow still a wood product, but let’s face it, they travel into the shop well, offer great how-to instruction with pictures and words, and you can make notes in the margins if you like. Our fine woodworking books cover all the topics for which you’re looking: furniture plans; hand tool techniques; shop projects; wood finishing advice and much more.
When you have the other leg seated, the threaded rods will extend father than you want them to. You'll want to mark them so they can be cut to length. Place a washer and a nut on each threaded rod, and then tighten down the nut to pull everything tight. Depending upon the wrench you are using, and how much longer the rod is than it needs to be, you may find it necessary to stack up a number of washers, so that the nut is positioned where the wrench can operate on it.
Assemble the vises, for the final time. You'll not be taking them off again, so tighten everything down, and attach the endplate to the ends of the screw and guide rods. Then mark and drill benchdog holes in the outer jaws inline with the benchdog holes in the top. Generally, through-holes are preferred for benchdogs, so that they don't collect sawdust and gunk. With these vises, that isn't possible, there are screws and guide rods in the way. I drilled them just deep enough to hold a Veritas Bench Pony (their reduced-height benchdog), without it sinking to where I can't get a grip to remove it. Rockler sells some very inexpensive plastic benchdogs that can't be adjusted for height, and aren't as strong as metal or wooden dogs, that I intend to keep in the holes full-time, to keep sawdust from collecting in them.
Pattern is the ordered repetition of an individual element. Pattern needs repetition in order to be considered a pattern. However, as already mentioned elsewhere, repetition can become boring. Slight variations in a pattern break monotony and add life to it. This also makes a pattern more familiar, especially if it relates closely to patterns found in nature. If a pattern is being created using a decorative motif, consider the dimensions of the surface area on which the motif will be seen to determine the motif’s scale. Larger surfaces can support a larger motif and allow the viewer to fully appreciate the impact of the repetition. If the motif is too small, it can be distracting and make the area feel busy.

The person who coined the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” just might have been a woodworker. Admittedly, new tools and materials have made certain operations faster, safer, and easier, but if a woodworker from the 1900s could visit your workshop, he’d have a tougher time with the K-cup coffeemaker than the table saw. That’s because the basic tenets and tools of woodworking are almost timeless.

Geometric shapes are made from straight or curved lines such as circles, squares and triangles. Their easy-to-recognize and often symmetrical patterns offer a sense of order, efficiency, strength, formality, but to some may be seen as uninteresting. Squares and rectangles are the predominant geometric shapes seen around us, not only in furniture, but in all areas of life. A circle has no beginning or ending, making it complete and inspiring thoughts of nature, perfection, unity, initiation and inclusion.


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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.
Another comprehensive book by Taunton Press, Wood Flooring is extremely informative, not to mention visually compelling. From subfloors to finishing, and everything in between, you can be sure this is the only book you will ever need on the subject. My favou­rite chapter was on inlays and curves: using jigs and templates to add circular inlays to a floor, laying out and installing laminated curves, even working with stone and metal inlays … there’s a lot to learn in that one chapter alone. Much of it could be adapted to making furniture. If you want to lay a basic wood floor this book will help you add lasting value and beauty to your home. If you’re looking to one-up your super handy DIY brother-in-law, you can start here too.
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.
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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