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I'd decided on an oil-and-wax finish. Oil finishes are by no means the toughest. In fact, they're really rather pathetic, so far as protecting the wood goes. But they're easy to apply, and not even the toughest finish will stand up to the abuse that a workbench will suffer, so it's more important that it be easy to repair. Wax is usually used to add a high gloss. On a bench, it's there to keep glue from sticking.
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.
My first shop was a 8 x 10 ft room, actually a bedroom, with 10 ft high ceilings in a older home in Chicago. I had a 10" Craftsman TS, drill press, 8 1/4" Skil saw which still works, some welding tanks, hand tools and... my bed was a loft across the 10 ft length 4 ft down from the ceiling with a ladder against the wall to get up. I was 16 yrs old then, now I am 66 yrs, have 2 shops with Craftsman power tools up stairs, and Grizzly tools ,a Powermatic 68, a MIG welder, and other tools on the ground floor. I've come a long way, You think? I remember making bases for sculptures called "plinths", my first commission, in the living room, 5 pieces rather large, several ft long and wide. The house was haunted, and my mom told the "spirit" to leave and go back downstairs. There was a cold draft and the straw chair would rustle with no one sitting in it. Wow, does that bring back memories from the '60's.
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.
We're planning to have a tree cutting service come in and take out a couple of diseased trees in the back part of our lot and then hire someone else to dig out the stumps. These trees are at the base of a small rise, and we're thinking about cutting into the "hill" a little bit and making a low retaining wall, maybe 18" to 24" high. But that's just intended to move the shed back a bit from the house. (Our total lot size is only 5,616 feet with an 1,800 square foot house.) Landscaping change like this won't affect current drainage patters, but anything else might make it worse.
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.