This is used to secure workpieces in place while you work on them – often for jointing. The location and capacity are the important things to look at. Most vices will come on a right-hand configuration either on the front or the side of the bench. If possible, it is a good idea to look for vices that can be repositioned. In terms of capacity, anything over 5” is solid while anything under 4” is likely a bit too small for all projects.
Be careful. Single 24x60" sheets of 3/4" MDF are pretty easy to lift. A doubled sheet is manageable. The countertop - 24x72" panel of 1-1/2" oak - weighs something over 100 pounds. It takes real care to lift safely. The joined top - 3" thick of oak and MDF - is past the range that can be lifted safely by one person. Don't try. Get a friend to help, or rig a block-and-tackle.
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.
The Classic Workbench is constructed entirely with in-compression-for-eternity drawbored mortise and tenons. It's as solid as humans can make it, short of growing a tree in the shape of a bench. The bench arrives at your shop completely assembled and ready to use. It doesn't knock down. The bench is built to the highest standards of traditional German craftsmanship in the utopian village of Amana Iowa. Our collaboration with the craftsmen in Amana, along with our experience in traditional workholding has yielded a workbench that is truly heirloom quality, but offered at what we think is a very reasonable price. We consider our flagship Split-Top Roubo as nearing the pinnacle of bench design (if there is such a thing) but we wanted to offer an essential bench built to high standards--an approachable but bulletproof tool for passionate enthusiasts of all levels, but especially intended for those just getting into the craft. Our principal bench maker has been steeped in the craft at the Amana Furniture Shop for nearly 50 years. Needless to say, a century and a half of woodworking tradition in Amana directly back to 19th century Germany speaks for itself. Many of the Amana craftsmen are multi-generational woodworkers.
You are absolutely right on your advise. When I was agonizing over how to build a workbench my good friend turned me on to your book on workbenches. I was planning on having an overhang until I read your advise about building a workbench and not a table. So the entire front and rear surfaces; top, legs and bottom shelf are all in the same plane to clamp my work to. The addition of a sliding dead man was also something that I would have never thought of on my own. Thanks again for your advise.
Isn’t now the time to spend some time with your son or daughter? Used to be that fathers spent time teaching their children how to do things. It built memories. It built self-confidence. It built life-long trust and respect. And it built skills that remain for the rest of their lives. Isn’t now the time for you to make some memories with your children?
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.