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 know, if you had a workbench, you wouldn't be building a workbench. Even so, you'll need some sort of work surface, even if it isn't as stable or capable as a proper bench. The traditional solution is to throw a hollow-core door over a couple of saw horses. The advantage of hollow core doors is that they're flat, stiff, and cheap. I used a folding table and a hollow core door I had bought for a future project.
If you bought this superb polished table in a store, it would cost you a fortune, but our detailed instructions will help you make one for less than $100. And it looks like highly polished stone, but no-one would know it’s actually made from concrete with a wooden base. Also, you can embellish the top with leaf prints, like the table shown here, or personalize it with glass or mosaic tiles or imprints of seashells.
I live in the second rainiest city in the country, Pensacola, so I am used to dealing with wet. I literally work out of my garage (read storage area, small woodwork area, washer/dryer...car? ). I wheel bigger tools and table out to the little covered area in front of the garage. I have an 8 x 10 aluminum shed that is strictly garden stuff storage. I mention this for two reasons.
The hacksaw will often damage the last thread when it cuts. Running a nut off the end will fix this. You'll have to run the nut all the way down from the other end. This doesn't take long, if you chuck up the rod in your drill and let it do the work. Hold the rod vertically, with the drill pointing down, and just hold on to the nut enough to keep it from spinning.
My bench is MY BENCH. In other words, it’s a thing of evolutionary beauty. I built the top 10 years before deciding on and designing the base. I spared no absurdity. It is supremely stout and the much maligned drawers are accessible from either side. The larger drawers have dust lids and can be extended to provide support for large workpieces or as a step for climbing on top of the bench. The top alone weighs more than most Roubos. So NYAH! Did I mention that I designed it to fit in with the Arts & Crafts vernacular? Who said you can’t build your bench to be furniture? Beautiful as well as useful shop furniture? Just sayin…
A shed is a great project to earn your sawdust legs on. It is just some very basic carpentry skills. You could build the whole thing with a circular saw, hammer, utility knife, pencil, and tape rule. Find a friend or relative that has some decent skills to help. You could do it in a weekend. Keep the size on a four foot increment to minimize wastee. I would recommend a 12 x 12 or a 12 x 16 if you can. If you don't want to cut any rafters (which is really a simple process), you can order small triangle shaped trusses for the roof from your local lumberyard. If you are using T1-11 for the sides, get the real plywood based stuff, no waferboard. Same thing for the floor, use plywood (treated if you like). Cedar for the trim, not pine. The visqueen underneath is a good idea. Insulate the walls inside to help temper temperature swings. Build overhanges into the roof all the way around, 12" is nice. These really are a fun project. You can add a small window with a flower box underneath to make it look a little homey too.
I drilled from the mark. That way I could ensure that the hole was where it was supposed to be, on the side where the position was critical. I have two 3/8" bits -- a brad point bit that came with my doweling set, and a perfectly ordinary 3/8" twist bit. Brad-point bits are far more precise than twist bits -- they're more likely to start where you want them to, and they're more likely to stay straight. My problem is that my brad-point bit wasn't long enough to go through 3-1/2" of wood. So I started each hole with the brad-point bit, then finished it off with the twist bit. I clamped a piece of ply on the back, to reduce tear-out.
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.