Watching all of these crafters for the past few weeks has not only been the highlight of my week, but it has inspired me to learn more about crafting and explore my own creativity through their different mediums. Inevitably, I fell down an internet rabbit hole of research and excitement (including Kristen McQuinn’s piece on Books About Traditional Crafts) and found myself enthralled by what I found on the craft of my childhood, woodworking.
You may even want to put yourself in the picture. If your workshop space already exists, find a large piece of cardboard, wallboard, or plywood that’s about the size of the workbench top you envision. Find a couple of stools or chairs, perhaps a few books, and turn them into stanchions to support the “benchtop.” Is it too big for the space? Is it large enough for the tasks you envision will be performed upon it?
The front edge of a woodworker’s bench is usually lined with square holes positioned at regular intervals. These holes hold bench dogs and holdfast clamps in place for securing work pieces. Beneath the top of the bench, some cabinetmaker models feature single storage drawers, others several drawers and even cupboards incorporated into a case-like base.
Regardless of which type of screw you use, you'll need to flip the panel and use a countersink drill to on all of the exit holes. Drilling MDF leaves bumps, the countersink bit will remove them, and will create a little bit of space for material drawn up by the screw from the second sheet of MDF. You want to remove anything that might keep the two panels from mating up flat. I set a block plane to a very shallow bite and ran it over what was left of the bumps and over the edges. The edges of MDF can be bulged by by sawing or just by handling, and you want to knock that down.
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.
Two for turners. Turners often develop needs and interests that are different than other woodworkers. Richard Raffan’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Turning offers one of the best overviews of the craft, as taught by a skilled artisan. As turners explore new ways to get a grip on different projects, they’ll appreciate Doc Green’s Fixtures and Chucks. This book explains how to get the most from commercial chucks, centers and faceplates and how to make your own.
If you remember, when drilling the MDF I finished the holes from the other side using a Forstner bit. It made for a clean hole, but the positioning wasn't as precise as I really wanted. So for this, I decided to clamp a length of scrap MDF to the back side, and to drill straight through. My Forstner bits were too short, so I bought an extender. And then I found that the spade bits I was using gave a cleaner exit hole. Whooda thunk?
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.
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).

I marked the holes by putting a dowel center in the end of a long piece of 1" dowel. Run it through the holes in the base plate, and bang on its end with a mallet. Rotate it a bit and bang it again, and repeat. Odds are the dowel center won't be precisely in the center of the dowel, so you'll be making a small ring of marks. The center of the hole is, of course, the center of that ring.
“Woodworking in Estonia” by A. Viires (National Technical Information Service). This is our share of the booty from the cultural exchanges of the Cold War years. The Soviets got models of our nuclear subs, and we got one of the best books on folk woodworking ever. Aside from showing how to make everything from wooden wheels to bentwood cheese boxes, this book is also an education in the way Eastern European history gets written. Imagine Eric Sloane dividing early American woodworking into feudal, capitalist and socialist periods!
The end vise will have both jaws made out of 1-1/2" thick oak. The front vise has its moving jaw made of 1-1/2" oak, but uses the edge of the bench as its stationary jaw. So while for the end vise, if we mount it lower, we can make both the jaws deeper to compensate, for the front vise we cannot, so we want it mounted as close to the edge of the bench as possible.
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.)
2 - use a plunge router with a bottom bearing cuter bit such as this from rockler: http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=25160&site=ROCKLER .... I thought to use the short one as I plunge it directly downward in the centre of the hole until the bearing reaches within the tabletop hole. I suppose one could use a long one, but the stubbiness seemed more practical (the big bearing ensured accuracy?)

With my second attempt at edge guides, I made the other rough-cut. On this, the edge guide worked fine, but the end of the cuts revealed that the saw blade wasn't quite square. So I adjusted the blade, clamped all four legs together, and made what would be the first final cut, if it came out clean enough. It didn't. I'd let the saw drift a bit away from the guide edge. So I adjusted the saw, moving the guide back half an inch, and tried again. the rough-cut parts were a couple of inches longer than they needed to be, so I had room to work with,. It's only the final cut at the other end that you only have one chance at.
This is used to secure workpieces in place while you work on them – often for jointing. The location and capacity are the important things to look at. Most vices will come on a right-hand configuration either on the front or the side of the bench. If possible, it is a good idea to look for vices that can be repositioned. In terms of capacity, anything over 5” is solid while anything under 4” is likely a bit too small for all projects.
Workbenches have flat tops, though sometimes at the rear there is a cavity called a tool well that contains tools and components (and prevents them from falling off). One advantage of having the well set into the top of the bench is that, even with a variety of objects in the well, a large sheet of material can still be laid flat over the entire surface of the bench; the contents of the tool well offer no interference.

I marked out the one hole location, drilled a shallow 1/16" hole into the top. I then put a 1/16" bit through the hole in my template and into the hole I had just drilled. I lined up the template, and drilled a second hole, then put another bit through that. From then on, I worked entirely from the template. With two bits through the holes pinning the template in place, the other holes in the template would be precisely located (or so the theory goes) on a 4x4" grid.
Clamp the inner jaw of the end vise in position, leaving a little bit to trim off later, and then use the dowel and dowel center trick through the screw and guiide rod holes of the vise base plate to mark the position of the screw and guide rod holes in the jaw. Remove the jaw and drill 1-1/8" holes in the marked positions. I used the drill guide for most of the holes, and drilled freehand for the last bit. When you're starting a spade bit in a deep hole like this, start the drill very slowly, and the bit will move the drill into a perpendicular position. Start it too fast and the bit will bind and you'll damage the sides of the hole.
Shape is critical to the ultimate success or failure of a piece of furniture. Knowing this, custom-furniture maker Lonnie Bird has taken the complex subject of shaping and in this book made it accessible to every woodworker. He guides the reader toward first visualizing, then drawing a shape, and then choosing the appropriate tool for creating it. Shaping techniques of all kinds are covered here — from the simplest ones to more complex bending and carving.”

A super simple iPad Dock/stand made out of a single block of wood features an angled groove which gets to support the tablet device and a cut in a hole to revise access to the home button of your iPad. It’s possible to drill an access channel in the stand through which you can run a charging cable, although this mini stripped back iPad stand may have very limited functions.


Slice, dice and serve in style on this easy, attractive board. We’ll show you a simple way to dry-fit the parts, scribe the arc and then glue the whole thing together. We used a 4-ft. steel ruler to scribe the arcs, but a yardstick or any thin board would also work. Find complete how-to instructions on this woodworking crafts project here. Also, be sure to use water-resistant wood glue and keep your board out of the dishwasher or it might fall apart. And one more thing: Keep the boards as even as possible during glue-up to minimize sanding later. For great tips on gluing wood, check out this collection.
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.
One you have the vise jaws shaped so that the vise moves freely, mark and drill holes in the fixed jaw for the bolts that will hold it to the bench. With these drilled, reassemble the vise and mark the location of the holes with an awl. Disassemble the vise and drill the holes through the stretcher, then reassemble the vise and bolt the inner jaw in place.

“The Complete Guide to Woodworking features detailed plans for 40 stunning projects for woodworkers of all levels, plus more than 1,200 step-by-step illustrations. It also includes expert information on setting up a workshop, safety, how to use and look after tools, and much more. For beginners and experienced woodworkers alike, this is the ultimate step-by-step guide.
Finishing is often an afterthought and spraying a finish isn’t exactly the first technique discussed when the topic does come up. While it’s often easier to wipe on a couple of coats of finish and be done with it, there are times when spraying a finish makes the most sense. There are many advantages to spraying a finish but there are some drawbacks too. Spray Finishing Made Simple does what it claims – it takes an imposing, unfamiliar topic and makes sense of it. This book is for the first-time spray finisher, as it starts with the basics and progresses through the stages. Don’t let the unknown stand in your way if you’re interested in learning about spraying. Pick up this book and get spraying.

You are absolutely right on your advise. When I was agonizing over how to build a workbench my good friend turned me on to your book on workbenches. I was planning on having an overhang until I read your advise about building a workbench and not a table. So the entire front and rear surfaces; top, legs and bottom shelf are all in the same plane to clamp my work to. The addition of a sliding dead man was also something that I would have never thought of on my own. Thanks again for your advise.


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.
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.
You are absolutely right on your advise. When I was agonizing over how to build a workbench my good friend turned me on to your book on workbenches. I was planning on having an overhang until I read your advise about building a workbench and not a table. So the entire front and rear surfaces; top, legs and bottom shelf are all in the same plane to clamp my work to. The addition of a sliding dead man was also something that I would have never thought of on my own. Thanks again for your advise.
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