I’m building my second bench. I built the first years ago with wood from old machinery pallets – mostly oak and maple. Mortised the legs into the base, and pegged ’em with 1″ dowels. Of course, the legs warped a bit, but that made everything tighter and stronger. The top is 2″ thick Ash, one board cut in half and joined side to side. Wrapped a maple apron around the top, and I think I screwed the top from underneath to the leg braces. Solid. Over time, built a cabinet under for 3 drawers and a small cabinet door. Works for me.
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.
On completion, you will graduate with a set of self-made tools, fixtures and storage units (not to mention the skills required to build them) that will serve and last you the rest of your life. You’ll be amply prepared to continue your woodworking education into specific trades such as architectural woodworking (finish work); custom door and window construction; solid-wood furniture and cabinetry; and boatbuilding. Over the course, we invite guest lecturers from the community to share their experience of becoming vocational woodworkers in these trades.
I mocked up the two scenarios, and determined that with the plate inside the stretcher the vise would have a reach of 8 inches, and with it outside the stretcher it would have a reach of 9 inches. I decided that 8 inches was enough, and that the extra inch wasn't worth the extra effort. With the end vise mounted like this, the right edge of the top would have no overhang.
In class, each student will build a detailed hall table that is complete with mortise and tenon joinery, biscuit, dowel, and floating joint construction. The student project is presented with a variety of design options and formats as to meet the experience and comfort level of each student. Depending on their experience and comfort level, students are encouraged to make a simplified version of the hall table or tackle a more sophisticated and complicated version of the same project. Your only limitation is the amount of material you receive in your lumber pack (~24 board feet).
Raphael Berrios is one of our Foundations of Woodworking scholarship students in Spring 2016. He also took our Timber Frame Tiny Home course and brought home one of the structures to finish for himself (you can follow his progress on his blog! Here’s what he had to say about what led him to PTSW, his experience so far, and thoughts for the future:
This course will drill deep into the basics, beginning with a firm foundation in understanding wood as a material and incorporates introductory training in a wide range of techniques. You'll leave with a in depth experience of hand tools, practice applications of joinery methods, consider choices for wood selection and working with non-toxic materials, and understand practical planning for designing and executing woodworking projects. The curriculum focuses on imparting skills through a series of projects designed to build on one another in techniques and complexity.
When you have the other leg seated, the threaded rods will extend father than you want them to. You'll want to mark them so they can be cut to length. Place a washer and a nut on each threaded rod, and then tighten down the nut to pull everything tight. Depending upon the wrench you are using, and how much longer the rod is than it needs to be, you may find it necessary to stack up a number of washers, so that the nut is positioned where the wrench can operate on it.
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.
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.
If you don't quite have the space for a real pony, make this handcrafted wood version instead. The horse pictured here is unfinished pine, but there are lots of woods and finishes to choose from. Everything you need comes with the kit, and the plans can be downloaded. If you don't want to build it yourself, you can order from the website—just allow two to three weeks to ship.
A shed is a great project to earn your sawdust legs on. It is just some very basic carpentry skills. You could build the whole thing with a circular saw, hammer, utility knife, pencil, and tape rule. Find a friend or relative that has some decent skills to help. You could do it in a weekend. Keep the size on a four foot increment to minimize wastee. I would recommend a 12 x 12 or a 12 x 16 if you can. If you don't want to cut any rafters (which is really a simple process), you can order small triangle shaped trusses for the roof from your local lumberyard. If you are using T1-11 for the sides, get the real plywood based stuff, no waferboard. Same thing for the floor, use plywood (treated if you like). Cedar for the trim, not pine. The visqueen underneath is a good idea. Insulate the walls inside to help temper temperature swings. Build overhanges into the roof all the way around, 12" is nice. These really are a fun project. You can add a small window with a flower box underneath to make it look a little homey too.
The book is well written and easy to read. The illustrations, I'm sure were excellent in 1914 and, are still adequite now. Most of the designs seemed repetitive, though. I wish more attention had been given to lashing materials. If you are looking for that you will find almost none here. The book was fun to read and provided enough inspiration to make my brother and me attempt a large hut.