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.
For the most part, furniture restorers/refinishers/conservators in the United States lack the necessary hand-tool skills to do proper wood repairs. But avid readers of Popular Woodworking Magazine do possess the skills. Like me in the 1970s, you just need instruction on how to go about it. These books provide this. They greatly influenced the techniques I use in my shop, and many are shown in the “Repairing Furniture” video/DVD I made for Taunton.
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.
Flip the base upright, put the MDF on top of it, then use a straightedge to draw two straight lines joining the outside edges of the legs and extending the width of the MDF. I used the countertop as the straightedge. We cut it with our cutting guide, which is based on the factory edge of a sheet of 1/4" plywood, so it should be straight enough. Use a carpenter's square to transfer these lines onto the ends of the MDF.
As a teacher I find Ernest Joyce’s “The Technique of Furniture Making” (Batson) invaluable, ’tho it is as far away from an enjoyable read as possible. Similarly Bob Wearing’s “Essential Woodworker” (Lost Art Press). Bob is one of the only people who ever gave insight into traditional English technique. I believe the lack of similar books is due to the apprenticeship tradition of teaching, where nothing was ever written down.
In ancient times, the woodworker’s bench consisted of a plank or split log with four splayed legs. Descendants of those benches are manufactured today, usually with a top of hardwood slabs glued together. The norm nowadays is four straight legs supporting the bulk above, often with braces and a shelf below. Despite the improvements, the linkage to Greek and Roman antecedents is still evident.
Building a bookcase or bookshelf is a fairly simple woodworking plan that you can get done in just a day or two. This is also a low-cost project as well and since the project idea is free, you don't have to worry about busting through your budget. Just follow the simple steps in the tutorial and enjoy your own company building a simple bookcase on this weekend.
Even with all of those faults my only regret is that it is too ugly. I didn’t take the time to make it more visually attractive as I was eager to get right into making beautiful furniture instead. Twenty years later the furniture is still beautiful (or not) but I go out to the shop and look at a drab uninspiring workplace. Yeah, nothing wrong with having a visually inspiring workplace in my opinion. All that shop furniture I slapped together years ago with no concern about aesthetics is getting replaced bit by bit. Why should my shop be downright ugly when it is one of my favorite places in the world to spend my time? I see no reason for that, but that’s just my opinion and as we all know everyone has their own one of those… Sadly, no one pays nor reveres me when I offer mine. bummer, I could be a rich egotistical maniac if they did coz I sure offer it enough. 😉
The wide variety of landmark furniture pieces, no matter the style, is what makes this book so visually stunning. That, and the fact that all of the 84 pieces that comprise the collection are beautifully photographed and a short description about each maker and piece is included. Many of the great makers from the last 100 years are covered – Sam Maloof, Wendell Castle, Tage Frid, George Nakashima – as well as many lesser known makers. If you read this book one hundred years from now, I’m sure it would be as thought provoking as it is today. These are 84 great pieces, and this is one great book.
When this book showed up at my studio I was very sceptical. Yet another “book of everything”? But after spending only five minutes skimming through it, I learned about a couple of storage ideas my shop needed, some cool new jigs that would come in handy and a few tricks to make my time in the shop more enjoyable and productive. There will be hundreds of ideas in here you will have no interest in whatsoever, but that’s all right … there are over 650 ideas in total, so some are sure to tickle your fancy.
Though still straightforward in design, this bench distinguishes itself from many of its competitors with the sheer wealth of storage options. It includes two drawers of equal size with an additional drawer of double size as well as a spacious cupboard. Altogether, this provides for more storage space and organization than any other workbench we reviewed. Of course, this bench also comes with many of the same advantages and disadvantages that you would expect to see on other models within this lineup.
One quality about this bench that is definitely lacking is space – both tabletop and storage. The Olympia Tools does provide an adequate shelf, but it does not come with any drawers, nor does it offer the option of adding them later. The table top is the smallest we saw at 50” long and 2’ wide, though the width is actually better than most of the other table we reviewed. Still, a significant chunk of that width is occupied by a trough. This trough is designed to hold smaller workpieces to keep them from falling or getting knocked over, but it removes about 6” of width from the tabletop.
Whether you're new to woodworking or you've been doing it for years, Woodcraft's selection of woodworking projects is one the best places to find your next big project. Whether you're looking to make wooden furniture, pens, toys, jewelry boxes, or any other project in between, the avid woodworker is sure to find his or her next masterpiece here. Find hundreds of detailed woodworking plans with highly accurate illustrations, instructions, and dimensions. Be sure to check out our Make Something blog to learn expert insights and inspiration for your next woodworking project.
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.