Remember those fire safety tips you used to get in grade school, about the dangers of oily rags? It was linseed oil they were talking about. All oily rags are dangerously flammable. Linseed oil will self-combust. Linseed oil doesn't evaporate, it oxidizes. The oxidization generates heat, and the increased temperature increases the rate of oxidation.
There are two books that I would consider highly influential in my personal woodworking path. Darrell Peart’s “Greene & Greene: Design Elements for the Workshop” (Linden) and “Adventures in Wood Finishing” by George Frank (Taunton). Peart’s book kicked off my fascination with all things Greene & Greene. Peart does a fantastic job of covering history as well as practical techniques.
This gem starts with a wink that’s explained further down on the cover: “Three Practical Ways to Do Every Job—and how to choose the one that’s right for you.” Bob introduces the main woodworking processes from dimensioning stock, to cutting dovetails, and then offers a variety of ways to get the job done using traditional hand tools, modern machinery, and an assortment of slick jigs.

I decided to finish the top with a number of coats of Danish oil, followed by a coat of wax. I applied the first coat of oil in the usual manner, making sure to cover the edges, and down the holes. I applied a coat oil to the top side of the shelf, as well. Wipe it on, let it sit wet for half-an-hour, then rub it off. Wait a day or two, add a second coat, and then again for a third.
Olympia Tools is a bit of a lesser known manufacturer. While they offer a wide range of products for a variety of construction fields, they are definitely more of a budget option. That said, Olympia Tools is one of the few brands that manages to produce a reasonable quality at a low price which makes them a solid choice for customers looking to get the best bang for the fewest bucks.

Linseed oil sitting in a bowl, or spread on the surface of wood, is perfectly safe. But a linseed oil soaked rag provides a vastly increase surface area, so the oxidation happens faster, and the rag can provide insulation, trapping the heat. The increased temperature speeds up the oxidation even more, which raises the temperature even more, and the runaway feedback can quickly result in temperatures that will cause the rag to spontaneously burst into flame. This isn't one of those "do not drive car while sunscreen is in place" warnings. This is one of those "keep your finger off the trigger until you have the gun pointed at something you want to shoot" warnings. Rags soaked in linseed oil will catch fire, if you don't handle them properly, and they can do so far more quickly than you might think.
Projects to build on. Korn's book includes basic projects that you can put your own spin on. This Shaker footstool was inspired by one of the projects in his book. The last side-table project in his book (pictured) has the same pedigree as these two other FW projects: Tim Rousseau's small cherry cabinet and Stephen Hammer's small stand with coopered panels.

I was using 2-1/2" coarse Kreg pocket hole screws. Kreg screws are supposed to be self-tapping, but the coarse-thread screws are intended to be self-tapping in softwood, and the fine-thread screws they intend for use in hardwoods aren't available in 2-1/2" lengths. I decided to drill pilot holes in the oak. Just to make sure, I did a test hole in the scrap piece I'd cut off.


A couple nice qualities about this bench include the weight and vice capacities. The weight capacity of this bench is 330 pounds which is decent, though it will not wow you too much. The vice, on the other hand, provides a 7” capacity which is tied for the most on our list. That said, there is only a single vice, and it is not able to be repositioned. This can make things a bit frustrating for lefties as it is a right-handed configuration.
Tools: I am inspired by tools, whether the tool is a good chef’s knife, a watercolor paintbrush or a lowly marking gauge. I find 18th-century tools particularly beautiful and elegant in their simplicity. To openly admit I am inspired by my tools makes me somewhat of a kook. But here, amongst friends, I suspect I am not alone. I’ve copied many tools in these books and sought tools that resembled these and been a happier person for it.
Before you start cutting or drilling the pieces that will make up the top, determine the layout of the top. This should include the dimensions of the MDF, the dimensions of the edging, the locations of the vises, and of the screws or bolts that will support the vises, and of all of the benchdog holes and of all of the drywall screws you will use to laminate the panels,
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Much like the dimensions of a bench’s tabletop, the weight capacity will similarly affect what size of projects you can work on with your bench. A common weight capacity sits between 220 to 250 pounds. While this is okay, it will limit some heavier projects. Ideally, you should shoot for 300 pounds, though some benches can offer 500 pounds of weight capacity or more.

Having done all this, I'm not sure I'd do it this way again. It might well be faster to layout the positions with compass and straightedge directly onto the top. Either way, you'll want to use a scribe rather than a pencil. Scribe lines are hard to see, and impossible to photograph, but the scribe and compass points click into them, allowing a precision that pencils simply cannot match.

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While our website has the most comprehensive list of all of our tools, sometimes it's nice to flip through the pages of a good old fashioned catalog.  This contains only our most popular permanent products that we manufacture just outside of Cleveland, OH.  We will be happy to send you one at no charge.  Just click the order button below so we can get the address you would like it sent to.  
Anyway, the reason I bring all this up is not to brag, but to alert you to a great deal. Recently, we had a chance to acquire the last print copies of these five books, which were sitting, overlooked, in a warehouse. The books mainly have black and white interiors and beautiful hand-drawn illustrations. And every one offers more than 300 pages of excellent advice on woodworking projects and techniques.
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. 😉
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.
When the shelf was full, we called the list done. The results of that debate is the list of books that follows (publishers listed are for the editions we own). It’s by no means a perfect list. It is a list that would probably change a bit if we had the debate again in a couple months. Some of these are classics, some are contemporary. But these are the books that are first in our hearts.
Professional woodworker Jim Tolpin offers solid instruction on the principles of measurement and proportion, walking you through every step of the woodworking process. From design and layout to developing a cutting list, his easy-to-follow style introduces a variety of tools (new and old) used to transfer measurements accurately to the wood. You’ll learn the best cutting techniques, how to prevent mistakes before they happen, and for those unavoidable mistakes, you’ll learn how to fix them so no one will know!
Tools: I am inspired by tools, whether the tool is a good chef’s knife, a watercolor paintbrush or a lowly marking gauge. I find 18th-century tools particularly beautiful and elegant in their simplicity. To openly admit I am inspired by my tools makes me somewhat of a kook. But here, amongst friends, I suspect I am not alone. I’ve copied many tools in these books and sought tools that resembled these and been a happier person for it.

Once you have all the clamps on, take off the scraps of hardboard. You can clean up the glue squeezeout with a damp rag.. When the glue is dry, trim down the strip flush with the panel using a router and a flush-trim bit. Then cut off the ends of the strip with a flush-cut saw, and clean up with a block plane, an edge scraper, or a sanding block. Leaving the ends in place while you route the edge helps support the router.


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.

Grouping George Nakashima’s The Soul of a Tree and Jim Krenov’s Worker in Wood with Nick Offerman’s Good Clean Fun might seem sacrilegious, but we like how the trio’s perspectives encompass the diverse spirit of woodworking. The older books combine photos of exceptional work with serious reflections on the nature of craftsmanship. Nick is equally passionate about wood and woodworking, but he’s more willing to admit that he’s enjoying himself–a good example for all of us to follow. 
Drill a pair of 3/8" holes in each end of the short stretchers, just over half of the depth of the dowels, using a brad-pointed bit. These stretchers already have a groove running their length, centered on the bottom edge. Precise placement isn't necessary, but keeping track of which part is which is. We need a hole in each end of each stretcher. Take care to keep these holes square, you don't want them running at angles.

Cut 15 top boards 5 ft. long and rip them to 3 in. wide with a table saw so the top will glue up flat without the typical rounded edges of 2x4s. For the leg slot, cut two of the top boards into three pieces: a 39-in. middle piece and two 7-in. end pieces. Glue and screw the top together, one board at a time, with 3-in. deck screws, keeping the ripped edge facing up and level with the adjoining boards. Use a corded drill so there’s plenty of oomph to drive each screw below the surface. Note that the third glue-up from each end is where each leg notch is inserted. You can also create a nifty tool tray in the top by notching the three top pieces with a jigsaw. Clamp every 8 in. or so before driving in the 3-in.deck screws. Predrill the screw holes near the ends to prevent splitting. When you’re screwing on the 7-in. long 2x4s to create the leg slots, use a scrap piece of 2×4 as a spacer.


Having done all this, I'm not sure I'd do it this way again. It might well be faster to layout the positions with compass and straightedge directly onto the top. Either way, you'll want to use a scribe rather than a pencil. Scribe lines are hard to see, and impossible to photograph, but the scribe and compass points click into them, allowing a precision that pencils simply cannot match.

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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