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.
efore you cut your first board, you must have a design to achieve the results you're after. To create a workable design, you must understand important properties of the wood you will be using, methods for joining that wood, typical construction techniques that are appropriate for the type of project you are building, styles of craftsmanship that will enhance and compliment the environment where this project will be used, and finally how to think through and plan a project.
I’ve built workbenches with more than 100 students. In every class, there’s one guy who wants to put a vise on every corner of the bench. Not because it’s a partner’s bench for two people. Just because he wants it that way. While I support your freedom to choose, I also don’t want to spend two weeks installing complex tail-vise hardware on your bench when we could be building furniture instead.

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.

Skirting tradi­tional woodworking – sometimes seem­ingly allergic to it – this book shows you things you didn’t think were possible with wood, and many things you wish you had thought of first. The variety of the finished pieces is won­derful and makes for a nice read. Including 89 artists in total, each brief section con­tains background information, inspirational thoughts and technical details on how each artist completes their work. Wood Art Today 2 covers furniture, turnings, boxes, sculptures and more. One of the things I like most about it is you can open it up to any page and start learning about a specific artist and the work they do. This one is a lot of fun. 


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.
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.
Audubon Birdhouse Book: Building, Placing, and Maintaining Great Homes for Great Birds Not only does this book offer great instructions and pictures on building birdhouses, but it also teaches you what makes for a safe and successful birdhouse for our little feathered friends. Lots of tips on where to place birdhouses and how to maintain them. This book is very much focused on the bird enthusiast and not so much the aesthetics of birdhouses.
Woodworking Books go hand in hand with the tools and the work. Whether you are a beginner or a master woodworker there is always a new technique or a great tip waiting for you on the pages.  We have hundreds of woodworking books to choose from, written by woodworking authors who understand the craft and know the trials and tribulations of the path.
This instructable shows how to build, with basic tools and readily-available lumber, a bench that provides most of the function of a traditional woodworker's workbench. I began with a design by Asa Christiana that was featured in the second season of finewoodworking.com's video series Getting Started in Woodworking. The project plans are available on their website.

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 Joint Book contains easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions for creating edge and scarf joints, lapped and housed joints, mortise and tenon joints, miters and bevels, dovetails, dowels and biscuits, and provides detailed descriptions of fasteners, hardware, and knockdown joints. This book is the perfect companion for any woodworker interested in improving their joint-making skills.”
“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 really like this. I've been busy designing my own workbench to replace the ropey old thing I currently use. You've made me reconsider exactly what I need a bench for - I think I've been more than a little seduced by the idea of a beautiful hardwood bench when, if I'm honest, I don't need one. My cash would be better spend on timber for furniture projects that my family can enjoy rather than a wonderful workbench that I can only use on the weekends.
“With Hammer in Hand” by Charles F. Hummel (UP Virginia). Resurfacing like Brigadoon, the woodworking shop of the Dominy family was sealed up with the tools still on the benches and saws still sharp. Moved to the Winterthur Museum, the workshop is an open portal into village woodworking in early America. Hummel’s book takes it tool by tool, piece by piece, expanding our view with a true scholar/craftsman’s eye.
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.
One aspect of the Windsor Design that is hit or miss is the vice. Notice we have to use the singular when describing it because this is the first workbench that we have reviewed which features only one vice. To make matters more frustrating, the vice cannot be repositioned along the bench. That said, the vice does at least have the largest capacity out of any we reviewed. At 7” capacity, the Windsor Design vice can secure any size workpiece you may have.
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