What is the one thing every woodworker needs? Yes, a workbench. Now that you have or at least I am assuming you have worked on so many woodworking projects, you are close to becoming a professional woodworker. You now probably owe yourself a nice woodworking bench. You should also know that a true woodworker never buys his bench from the market, but always builds one himself. But before you start this project, you should know what a workbench is.
With the inner jaw fastened to the bench, I used the router to flush-trim the jaw to the benchtop, across the top and down the sides adjacent to the top (stopping short of the discontinuity between the top and the legs). I'd thought this would be the best way to match up the jaw against the top, but I'd not do it this way again. It was very difficult to hold the router tight against the face of the jaw, and the result was a surface that wasn't as even as I had hoped.
@cahudson42 I bored the holes in my sandwich top with a 3/4" power auger bit with the drill in a portable drill guide that kept it vertical and in a way a bit like a plunge router. The guide screw of the auger was dead easy to centre over the laid out grid points. The holes are dead straight and clean sided. The auger bit was new which probably helped. As stated I have three rows from an end vise running the length of the front as well as from the front vise and holes in the front apron to support long pieces as well.
Thanks! Great information. As an advanced novice worker, I finally decided to build my first bench a couple years ago. After reading several of your blogs knowing full well mortised dove tale leg joinery is yet beyond my capability, I elected to build Robert Lang’s “21st Century Workbench”. I also chose his VERITAS Twin Screw Vise in the face vise position. Used an old Craftsman face vise in the tail vise position. Constructed of laminated 9/4 x 31/2″ Pecan and 60″ long because of my small crowed shop. Super happy to this point. As I mature in woodworking I may live to construct one of a different choice at a latter date, but I’m 73 so we’ll see. Thanks again for the advise.
The Classic Workbench is simple to use. The leg vise is used primarily for working the edges of boards and the ends of narrower boards. This is self explanatory. To work the faces of boards along the grain, tap up the planing stop (don’t make it any higher than necessary) and butt the end of the board into the teeth of the stop. With the right technique you can plane across wide boards without repositioning the board. You usually don’t need to tap the opposite end of the board to engage it with the stop, but in some cases, especially with rougher stock, you may need to give a tap with your mallet. Working the faces of a stack of boards is extremely quick with the planing stop since you don’t have to open and close a vise constantly. To work across the face of a board, make yourself a doe’s foot and position it at the back corner of the board, holding it down with a holdfast. The doe’s foot is simply a piece of wood with a V-shaped notch cut into one end. The bottomsurface of the doe’s foot can be lined with sandpaper or Crubber to help it stay put on the bench top. To work long boards, fasten a batten to the right leg with a holdfast and use that to support the end of the long board. We’ve found that a deadman is not necessary for the majority of work, especially on a bench of this length. For working the ends of smaller boards the leg vise can be used, but for precision work like dovetailing, we use and recommend our Moxon Vise.
One you have the vise jaws shaped so that the vise moves freely, mark and drill holes in the fixed jaw for the bolts that will hold it to the bench. With these drilled, reassemble the vise and mark the location of the holes with an awl. Disassemble the vise and drill the holes through the stretcher, then reassemble the vise and bolt the inner jaw in place.
Of course, I, on the other hand, with my Ikea oak countertop, probable went overboard in the other direction. Since I needed to trim the countertop to width,I figured I'd take off a couple of 1/2" strips to use for edging the MDF. I clamped the countertop to my bench base, and used the long cutting guide. I'd asked around for advice on cutting this large a piece of oak, and was told to try a Freud Diablo 40-tooth blade in my circular saw. I found one at my local home center, at a reasonable price, and it worked very well.
In each Practical Woodworking Class, the daily mix consists of intensive lecture, demonstration, and student practice lab time. Lecture periods are interactive, informative, and intensive but are also an enjoyable experience. Generally, each joinery and fabrication process is demonstrated in several ways to reach or achieve the same results. For example, processes are first demonstrated with the use of hand tools. Next, the same joint or procedure is done with simple hand held power tools (such as the router). Then, the entire process is demonstrated with stationary equipment such as the table saw, drill press, and mortiser. Students choose whichever production method works best for them and is in keeping with their plan to equip a home workshop and/or around their existing home tooling.
TOH has showed you how to make a toy chest with your kids before, but if you don't feel like cutting the wood yourself, opt for a kit like the one for this beautiful cherry chest. The kit comes with pre-cut pieces and all the hardware you need. Like many toy chests out there, the closed lid can also function as a bench seat, and the hinges are designed to prevent little fingers from getting caught. This model is available in three different finishes.
Our stationary equipment runs the complete range from heavy-duty industrial machines, to inexpensive home shop type of tooling so that each student can compare and contrast the range and versatility of equipment at a wide variety of price points. We spend time on what makes a good machine good, an adequate one adequate, and a lousy machine worthless. We have no commercial sponsors and will share our opinions based on our experiences regarding the quality of one manufacturer over another. There is no better place to kick the tires on a variety of equipment than at our shop.
This class is open to novice woodworkers and to more experienced woodworkers who would like to broaden (or simplify) their approach to woodworking. What do we mean by novice? We think it means you are a person who has decided to commit to learning new skills; to growing a passion for the craft of working with wood; and has a strong sense of the limitations of your own knowledge.
I live in VA and my workshop is an unheated, uninsulated garage. I work out there year round, even when temps are below freezing. I can't say it's comfortable in the winter (or when it's 100 degrees with 95% humidity) but I haven't had any major issues. I have had some big box green wood warp on me after I built a couple bookshelves and brought them into the house, but that was more a factor of the green wood than my "shop".
If you're using drywall screws, you'll want to countersink the holes. Drywall screws are flat-head, and need a countersink to seat solidly. If you're using Kreg pocket screws, the way I did, you won't want to counter-sink the holes. Kreg screws are pan-head, and seat just fine against a flat surface. Both drywall screws and Kreg pocket screws are self-threading, so you don't need pilot holes in the second sheet of MDF.
Synopsis: No room in the garage? Basement not an option? Consider what Ken St. Onge did when he needed shop space: He bought a prefabricated shed and converted it into his full-time woodshop. Because a pre-built shed doesn’t need a cement foundation and is built in a factory, it’s much less expensive than building an addition or stand-alone shop on your property. It can have taller ceilings than a garage and bigger doors than a basement, both big pluses for a woodworker. You can put a shed just about anywhere, too. Here’s a soup to nuts look at Ken’s experience, so you can gauge whether a shop in a shed is right for you.