It might not be the easiest project in this list, but if you already have some experience with wood cutting and joinery, it won’t be any hassle at all. Thanks to the extremely detailed instructions it shouldn’t really be a problem even if you’re not very familiar with woodworking. This could actually be a great project for refining your woodworking skills as a beginner!
The oldest woodworking shop in America has been discovered virtually untouched in Duxbury, Massachusetts. The extremely rare find reveals an 18th century joiner’s shop with the date ‘1789’ painted in the rafters. University of Delaware professor Ritchie Garrison came upon the historic structure on the site of a preschool, bringing several experts out to verify its age. Craftsmen used the shed to create intricate woodwork.
At the age of 9, Mark’s interest in woodworking began, which led him to begin an apprenticeship with Homestead Heritage Furniture at the age of 17. In his own shop he has built many pieces of furniture from small dovetail boxes to large 10′ round conference tables. Most of his work has been for clients who have ordered custom pieces for their homes and offices. Mark has been building custom furniture for the last 20 years and is now the manager of the Heritage Furniture business. Mark enjoys making hand tools and jigs that can simplify the building process. He has taught children how to shape simple utensils like wooden spoons and cutting boards as well as other larger projects. “Seeing the young grow to maturity in their craft is what I appreciate.”
If you decide upon construction lumber, you want kiln dry lumber. Green lumber will warp on you as it drys. Dig through the stacks and pick out the straightest, cleanest pieces. Generally, the boards that are sitting loose on the stack are those that other people left behind, as they sorted through looking for better. Be prepared to move them out of the way, and to dig down to the better stock. Be nice, though, and put everything back when you're done.
Students who are interested in woodworking, either as a career or a hobby, can find classes through certificate and vocational degree programs. Furniture making and opportunities for wood sculpture can also be found at schools that offer studio art programs. In California, a wide range of programs in the field are available, including individuals classes as well as formal educational programs. While degree programs include general education programs, all woodworking programs focus primarily on the development of hands-on skills with respect to safety measures.
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.
Foundations of Woodworking runs every fall (September - December) and winter (January-March). The application process for each session opens 9 months in advance of the course start date. Applications will be considered for registration in the order in which they are received. There is no fee for applying. Accepted applicants will be invited to register. We ask for a deposit of $200 at the time of registration to ensure your place in the class.
The last thing is to semi-permanently attach the bolts for the vises. Given the amount of work necessary to get to the bolt heads, once the top is joined, I had intended to tighten them up so they wouldn't spin, and lock them that way with blue Loctite. (That's the strongest non-permanent grade.) That didn't work. What I found was that the bottoms of the countersinks weren't quite flat, and when I tightened the nuts down that far, the ends of the bolts would be pulled far enough out of alignment that the vise bases would no longer fit. In order for the vises to fit over the bolts, I had to leave the nuts loose enough that the bolts had a bit of wiggle - which meant that they were almost loose enough for the bolts to spin. So I put Loctite on the nuts, to keep them from unscrewing, and filled the countersinks with Liquid Nails, in hopes of keeping the bolts from spinning. I considered using epoxy, or a metal-epoxy mix like JB Weld, but I didn't have enough of either on hand. It seems to be working for now, though the real test won't be until I have to take the vises off.
The hacksaw will often damage the last thread when it cuts. Running a nut off the end will fix this. You'll have to run the nut all the way down from the other end. This doesn't take long, if you chuck up the rod in your drill and let it do the work. Hold the rod vertically, with the drill pointing down, and just hold on to the nut enough to keep it from spinning.
The projects in this course follow a natural progression of skills, techniques and tools. Some of the early student-made tools are, in fact, used to help make the next tool or bench fixture in the series. You are supported in the building of these projects with step-by-step outlines, knock-down examples and continuing, one-on-one consultations with the faculty. Periodic evaluations of your progress with a specific faculty-mentor help keep you on track.
Something like this really does look like it would be a fun project. I guess I need to go out to the yard and use some stakes and brightly colored taped to mark off some different dimensions (12x8, 12x10, 12x12, etc.) to figure out just how big I can make this thing. If I'm building it myself, it'll be easy to keep the height right at the 9 foot limit.
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.
Before joining the top to the base, loosen the bolts and screws on the lower stretchers to create a little play in the leg posts. Align the top notches with the leg posts and tap the top into place with a hammer and piece of scrap wood, working evenly around the table until all leg posts are level with the tabletop. Tighten the lower stretchers and you’re done. A hefty thanks to Doug Merrill for this weighty idea.
The 84-906 fits this bill perfectly as the table offers all of the qualities and features that you would expect but does not truly blow you away with any of them. For instance, this bench is made out of rubberwood. This wood is decent in that it provides the strength you want, but it is also extremely porous and rough-grained. The porous nature would generally make it susceptible to rotting and staining, though the bench has been lacquered. The rough grain will potentially cause tools to dull over time if you do not regularly relacquer it.