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.
I thought my first wood working bench was great.A heavy c channel metal frame with a recycled maple floor top with a guick release 7 in vice on the side.It is about 40in by 54in and can hold a hemi no problem. I waxed the top till it was nice and resistant to whatever was dripped on it. Only problem is I was thinking like a gear head not a wood worked.Work piece would slide and no decent clamping on the sides. I figured if I wanted to get somewhat serious about this woodworking thing I needed a real bench not a table with a vice. I read the books and with so many choices I chose a Roubo split top from Benchcrafted it would let me use it for both power and hand tools. I just finished it a week ago and it is nice not to have to chase my work across the bench. I couldn’t find a clear answer for a top coat for the bench I chose to leave the soft maple nude. So I guess I have a bench tbat has a lack of modesty.
I wanted the left edge of the jaw of the front vise to be flush with the left edge of the top, the right edge with the left edge of the left front leg. So the amount of overhang on the left depends upon the width of the front vise jaw. The width of the jaw is, at a minimum, the width of the plate that supports it, but it's normal to make the jaw extend a bit beyond the plate. How far? The more it extends, the deeper a bite you can take with the edge of the vise, when, for example, you are clamping the side of a board being held vertically. But the more it extends, the less support it has. I decided to extend by 1-12", which gives me a 2-1/2" bite, and which should still provide solid support, given that the jaw is 1-1/2" thick. This means the top needs a left overhang of 12-1/4".
Stop it. Really. I mean it. Pick a height between your thigh and waist that seems right. You’ll adapt. Don’t worry about your back. You’ll adapt. If you are really uncertain, make it a little taller and then cut down the legs. After a decade or so, your work habits will put a magic number in your head. You’ll have built enough furniture that you will know your number. Until then, pick a number.
Tuition for Practical Woodworking is $1200 for six 8-hour days of instruction and active woodworking. Lumber is provided and costs an additional $85. We provide most tools, students are only required to bring a tape measure, sharpie, pencil, and eye protection (sanders and sandpaper are encouraged if you've got them). Visit our Course Project page to see the table we make!
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.