A woodworker's workbench isn't a table, it's a work-holding system. It's not something you set things on top of, it's a tool that holds your work. Where a worktable might have a machinist's vise bolted to its top, a woodworker's bench is built to accommodate a number of different workholding mechanisms, such as bench dogs, planing stops, hold fasts, or board jacks, and will usually have one more woodworker's vises integrated into its structure.
Happy bench building folks. I hope you make it your own and not worry too much about what someone else thinks it should be. Use the rules as a guideline, they have validity, but make it your own in the end. If the rules fit you that’s great, if they don’t quite fit you then make it to fit yourself. It’s you using it, not some guy making a nice living off of telling you how he thinks you should do it. One size does not fit all. Never has, never will.
Tapping the knowledge of dozens of top-shelf woodworkers, Scott Landis’s The Workbench Book, and Jim Tolpin’s The Toolbox Book are filled with inspirational photos and drawings that you can use to enhance your workbench and tool storage needs. John White’s Care and Repair of Shop Machines completes the workshop triumvirate. The author’s straightforward advice for repairing and setting machinery will help you make the most of every machine in your shop.
These sorts of things are usually glued and screwed, but it's actually the glue that holds them together - the screws just hold everything tight while the glue cures. Screwing into hardboard or 1/4" ply is an exercise in futility, so I just used glue, and used my two 4x4's as long clamps. It would have been a bit easier, if I'd done this before I'd rough-cut the 4x4's, but it worked out.
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.
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.
New information on composite materials, adhesives, and finishes brings this book into the 21st century, while more than 300 photographs bring important visual information to life. This edition covers the nature of wood and its properties, the basics of wood technology, and the woodworker’s raw materials. Understanding Wood was written for woodworkers by a scientist with a love of woodworking. It will be sought after by craftsmen and collectors alike.”
Many kids have the natural desire to learn about tools and make wooden objects, but as adults it’s difficult to know where or how to start teaching. Kid Crafts Woodworking starts at the very beginning, with short sections on, among other things, the properties of wood, gluing and metal fasteners. Nothing long or boring, just the basics, for a kid-length attention span. With straightforward paragraphs and clear, simple photos, the book goes on to discuss the safe usage of basic tools. Then comes the fun part – the 21 projects. Easy-to-follow instructions will guide your child through the projects, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be there every step of the way. Just don’t get too eager and do all the work for them … it’s their project after all.
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.
If you opt for a bench with drawers or cabinets built into its base, don’t forget the toe spaces: Leave a space roughly three inches deep and four inches wide at floor level for your toes, just like kitchen cabinets. The absence of a toe space means you’ll be forever kicking the face or sides of the cabinets which is irksome and, with tools in hand, potentially dangerous. And you’ll have to lean over farther to reach the back of the benchtop.
For an entertaining read (and proof that woodworkers lead interesting lives), treat yourself to Nancy Hiller’s Making Things Work: Tales from a Cabinetmaker’s Life, and George Frank’s Adventures in Wood Finishing. These two biographical books are beautifully written and offer similarly lively accounts of the adventures that come from making a living as a woodworker. As you spend time with Nancy and George, we think you’ll enjoy the stories that come with the sawdust
This book addresses a key dilemma of the beginning woodworker: how do you build good projects without the basic shop furnishings to get the job done? And, why struggle with makeshift workshop equipment when you can create your own? Now you have the guidance of an expert woodworker to help you build workshop basics that you will use for years to come.
“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.
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).
2. Bill Hylton's Power-Tool Joinery by Bill Hylton. From the editors of Popular Woodworking magazine, this is a go-to for setting up power tools for making joinery. Organized by joint type - rabbets, half-laps, dovetails, etc - it provides detailed instructions show you how to make each joint with every tool possible. I especially like the jigs and fixtures details that show you there's definitely more than one way to skin that cat.
The top is supported by the top ends of the legs and the top sides of the top stretchers. Stand your legs on end on a flat surface (like my door) and see if they wobble. If you have an end that isn't quite stable, use it as a foot, where the leveler will make it's flaws unimportant. Check the top edge of each stretcher for straightness. If one has a bit of a bow, use it for a lower stretcher. It's less critical that the shelf be well supported along its length.
Windsor Design is an interesting brand in that it is not actually its own company. Instead, Windsor Design is one of the in-house brands sold by Harbor Freight. While it may be a store brand, that should not dissuade you at all as Harbor Freight is known for selling some of the best products available for all fields of construction. Granted, this may not strictly be the best table available, but it does provide a solid mix of features to make it a good value.