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.
Mine is similar but a bit more robust. The top is a sandwich, two 18mm sheets of WBP ply with an 18mm mdf filling. The legs are mortise and tenoned together, the ends glued and pegged, the stretchers are joined with long bolts so it comes apart. I stiffened it by adding a very closely fitted cabinet underneath (it had to go in dead square) and it is now absolutely rock solid.
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.
In the "Getting Started with Woodworking" video, the holes through the 4x4's were drilled from the back. That is, they start on the side opposite the precisely-positioned mark, and drill through to hit it. If they can do this, more power to them, but I can't drill through 3-1/2" of wood to emerge at a precise mark without a drill press - and not always then.
I have picked out a list of 9 books on woodworking that covers a wide variety of woodworking hobbies and techniques. I can personally vouch for these books, since I own most of them. These books will serve as valuable reference tools that can be used over and over. I’ve also checked the ratings and comments to make sure these books resonate with their readers. For your convenience, I’ve also included Amazon affiliate links so you can check out the Amazon reviews yourselves. Hope you enjoy the article and towards the end, I will ask you to share your favorite woodworking books.

One thing that surprised me about the forthcoming article is that while some authors – James Krenov, George Nakashima, Roy Underhill and Bob Flexner– feature in both the list below and the “Young Makers’ Bookshelves” article, a lot of the titles on the upcoming list are new to me. So of course, I’ve ordered them (a disease for which there is no cure).
As I was handling the 2x4's, during the routing, I realized that I really wouldn't be happy with the look of the bench, if it were made from these unfinished boards. They had stamps, pencil marks, and more importantly, incipient splinters left by the saw, none of which I wanted. And I was remembering what other shop furniture made from unfinished pine had looked like, after a few years in the grime of a shop.

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.

Another aspect that might irk some buyers is the fact that the capacity of this bench is less than great outside of weight. The top’s surface area is a bit on the smaller end, though its length is more in line with larger models. The width though is less than two feet which can limit some projects. Similarly, the vice capacity is the second smallest on our list at 4 ½”, though this too can be modded with optional additions.

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