Thanks Chris! I found this page while looking for a link to your e-mail address. I recently finished your erudite volumes on workbench design, and am about to embark on my own bench inspired by your take on the Holtzapffel design. As my vices and planer arrive, I’ve been agonizing over whether to use SYP or rough maple for the top. I don’t have a big budget, so all-maple is not an option. But after reading your ten tips here, I’ll stop agonizing — all SYP it is! This is, after all, my first of what I hope are at least several handmade benches. Your scholarship and craftsmanship are truly inspiring.
In 2006 Jonathan Schwennesen had an opportunity to begin an informal apprenticeship at the age of 17. He spent 4 years working as an apprentice in the Heritage School of Woodworking, learning the fundamental skills needed to build custom and speculative pieces of furniture. Next he began working for Homestead Heritage Furniture building custom furniture for different clients, gaining additional experience and knowledge making Windsor chairs, federal-style cabinets, clocks, workbenches, sleigh beds and even a waterwheel! It was during this time that he began to show an interest in teaching. Jonathan became a teacher’s assistant in 2009. He quickly began gaining the knowledge and skill to teach some classes himself. Now he spends most of his time working for the woodworking school. “My desire is to teach others an important aspect of life: working with your hands.”

I decided to make my own top out of white ash because I had access to a planer and jointer at my local college where I was taking an intro woodworking class. Trim and vice jaws are white ash as well. Everything else is built pretty much as jdege describes. A plunge router with a 3/4" spiral up bit really made quick work of the dog holes. Finished with Danish oil.


In the "Getting Started with Woodworking" video, the holes through the 4x4's were drilled from the back. That is, they start on the side opposite the precisely-positioned mark, and drill through to hit it. If they can do this, more power to them, but I can't drill through 3-1/2" of wood to emerge at a precise mark without a drill press - and not always then.
Every single person in the class was a novice when they walked in. We all made mistakes at some point, yet none of us really ever felt bad about these hiccups. Inevitably, Bob turned these mistakes into problem-solving opportunities where we could explore new ideas. So what if one morning I skipped coffee and accidentally spent 10 minutes drilling random-ass, pointless domino mortises in the middle of my bench legs? 4 dominos, some sawdust and glue, a little bit of sawing and sanding-- I've got four new inlays on my legs and nobody's the wiser. Not only do I now know how to roll with the punches when building something, but I've got a bench that's uniquely mine AND I don't feel like an idiot. And that last part is a serious feat.
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.
I would say take the shed, you'll find some use for it. I have contemplated this question also. I have a 20' x 11' basement shop, thats quickly loosing space. If you live in an area with a harsh winters (say the Midwest), does it make sense to heat the shop through the week if you are only working in the shop on the weekends? Or do you run the heaters just when you are working in the shop? What kind of heaters are recommended (radient, wood stove, etc.)?

Next is the shelf. Start with the 24x48" piece of MDF. Clamp this on top of the base, and pencil in the outside of the stretchers and the inside angle of the legs. Flip it over, pull out your trusty cutting guide, and cut it to width and to length. Cutting out the angles is simple, with a jig saw. It's not much work with a hand saw. If you took enough care with supporting blocks and stops, you could probably do it with a circular saw. Since I did have a jig saw, I used it.


Clamp the inner jaw of the end vise in position, leaving a little bit to trim off later, and then use the dowel and dowel center trick through the screw and guiide rod holes of the vise base plate to mark the position of the screw and guide rod holes in the jaw. Remove the jaw and drill 1-1/8" holes in the marked positions. I used the drill guide for most of the holes, and drilled freehand for the last bit. When you're starting a spade bit in a deep hole like this, start the drill very slowly, and the bit will move the drill into a perpendicular position. Start it too fast and the bit will bind and you'll damage the sides of the hole.
This place is great! They offer safety classes before you sign up for a membership, and the workspace is big and well maintained. I needed some basic lessons with table and band saws, which went great. I didn't ultimately get a membership because my sawing needs are very specific, and ended up getting a small bandsaw for myself at home. But if you're someone who needs the whole range of tools, this is the place to be!
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.
I would say take the shed, you'll find some use for it. I have contemplated this question also. I have a 20' x 11' basement shop, thats quickly loosing space. If you live in an area with a harsh winters (say the Midwest), does it make sense to heat the shop through the week if you are only working in the shop on the weekends? Or do you run the heaters just when you are working in the shop? What kind of heaters are recommended (radient, wood stove, etc.)?
The Handy Home Products Berkley 10 ft. x The Handy Home Products Berkley 10 ft. x 10 ft. Wood Storage Building Kit with Floor is made with factory-primed SmartSide siding to resist fungal decay and wood-destroying insects. The Berkley’s gambrel style roof provides plenty of height to add a loft for extra storage space. The 6 ft. high ...  More + Product Details Close
Learn how to use power tools, as well as traditional and modern hand tools, safely and effectively. Class assignments introduce basic concepts and techniques, to give you the skills needed for many woodworking projects such as mill board flattening and straightening, creating strong joints for connecting wood, and gluing boards together to make a panel. Students leave with a strong foundation for more advanced wood classes and a small end table. All tools for learning are provided.
Lay a leg flat on your work surface, with the countersink side of the thru-holes down. Stick a piece of threaded rod in each hole. Take a stretcher that is marked to have one end adjoin the top of this leg, stick a dowel center in its dowel hole, line it up against the leg, using the threaded rod for positioning, You want the top of the stretcher to be even with the top of the leg, or just slightly above it. Give the end of the stretcher a whack with your rubber mallet. This will leave a mark indicating where the matching dowel hole in the leg needs to be drilled. Repeat with the lower stretcher than adjoins this leg. Then repeat for the other leg that will form this trestle, and the other ends of the two stretchers.

The description below is an outline for how the course will proceed.  We intentionally maintain a level of flexibility in our curriculum to adapt and respond to the needs of each group of students depending on aptitude.  Each project has a basic standard of completion as well as design opportunities for elaboration and exploration of more advanced techniques.   Our instructors will guide you through projects as is best suited for your ability level.   


In this class, John will explain and demonstrate safe spindle turning techniques for turning a bud vase or a carvers mallet, an essential tool for anyone wishing to sculpt wood or make hand made joinery. Objective Through hands-on learning students will gain experience and confidence using our new Laguna mini lathes. You will develop an understanding...
Put the upper panel of MDF on your glue-up surface, bottom side up. Put the bottom panel of MDF on your other surface, bottom side down. (The panel with the holes drilled in it is the bottom panel, and the side that has the your layout diagram on it is the bottom side.) Chuck up in your drill the appropriate driver bit for the screws your using. Make sure you have a freshly-charged battery, and crank the speed down and the torque way down. You don't want to over-tighten the screws, MDF strips easily.
Laney College is located in Oakland near the San Francisco Bay and currently enrolls around 12,000 students. The Wood Technology Department offers 1- and 2-year certificate programs in wood technology, computer-aided drafting and design, as well as an apprenticeship program and carpentry courses. Students have access to eight faculty members and a variety of woodworking machinery and equipment, including a lathe.
What I did, when I came back, was to clamp down the strip where it had torn away, and then to start routing from the other end. I still moved the router from right to left, but I did it in six-inch sections, taking light passes, and sort of whittled the strip flush. As the sections I was working were farther to the right, the strip was thinner. Eventually I came to where I was trimming the strip away entirely, at which point I took off the clamps and the remainder fell away.
Quality is what we do, YOU will do it too, from day one. We will teach you all stages from choosing hand tools, to picking out wood, to developing your drawings, and building a portfolio of work. There are lots of workshop schools, courses, and magazines that are great for showing you an amateur way of getting a good result. An amateur has no excuse for poor work other than lack of understanding, the amateur has all day to get it right, the professional has not. They must do it right, first time, every day.

Before joining the top to the base, loosen the bolts and screws on the lower stretchers to create a little play in the leg posts. Align the top notches with the leg posts and tap the top into place with a hammer and piece of scrap wood, working evenly around the table until all leg posts are level with the tabletop. Tighten the lower stretchers and you’re done. A hefty thanks to Doug Merrill for this weighty idea.


Permanent or Portable? This is a distinction that decides much about your bench choice: Is it to remain stationary or must it fold, roll, or otherwise make itself scarce between jobs? Large, heavy benches are more stable and, in general, more adaptable to different jobs (sometimes several at once). But the bigger the bench, the more hassle involved with stowing it.

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.

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