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.
This instructable shows how to build, with basic tools and readily-available lumber, a bench that provides most of the function of a traditional woodworker's workbench. I began with a design by Asa Christiana that was featured in the second season of finewoodworking.com's video series Getting Started in Woodworking. The project plans are available on their website.
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.
The Classic Workbench is based largely on the famous Plate 11 workbench from Roubo’s “The Art of the Joinery”. We’ve built dozens of these “Roubo” benches over the past decade, helped others build hundreds more and examined extant French benches from the period. We haven’t changed our opinion on this fundamental design. French technical schools of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were outfitted with benches of the exact type. And prior to the 1950’s, you could easily buy a “Classic” workbench from any number of French supply houses. Benchcrafted continues the tradition by offering this excellent workbench, built in Iowa with American hardwoods to the highest standards.
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.
For most of the course, we'll be heavily focused on developing your skills using hand tools. As a developing woodworker, there is no substitute for putting in the hours of direct hands on practice it takes to gain an intuitive understanding of wood. The early part of this course focuses on working with hand tools as we believe they bring you closer to wood as a material.  You can rip a board on a table saw with out much thought to the wood itself, but you will understand much more about grain if you rip a board with a hand saw.  As the course progresses, machine processes are introduced as a pragmatic aid in expediting projects.  
Getting a smooth, blemish-free finish with oil-based polyurethane is within your grasp if you follow the steps in this article. Oil-based polyurethane varnish brings out the wood’s natural beauty or wood grain. Our 4-step approach shows you how to apply the varnish successfully. A good-quality natural-bristle brush, a reasonably dust-free, well ventilated space and some patience are all you need. Learn how to apply polyurethane.
After I left the magazine for a new job, I did all of my woodworking in my small two-car garage, but it was a struggle. Power, lighting, and temperature control were limited. And because I shared space with our cars I was always moving machines around, often while in the middle of a project. On top of that, my tool and machine collection had long since eclipsed the space. For all these reasons, fixing up the garage wasn’t an option. My finished basement is a family room, so it was out, too. An addition to the home or a stand-alone building would have been too expensive. I had to find a better path to a shop.
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