Raphael Berrios is one of our Foundations of Woodworking scholarship students in Spring 2016. He also took our Timber Frame Tiny Home course and brought home one of the structures to finish for himself (you can follow his progress on his blog!  Here’s what he had to say about what led him to PTSW, his experience so far, and thoughts for the future:
This is one of those things that you never know you need unless you have one. This amazing wooden sofa sleeve works perfectly on either or both sides of a sofa set. It gives your sofa a nice look. The sleeve can also be modified to include a cup holder, mobile holder, etc. You can easily find this item on any online furniture store, but an even better idea is to build one. This way, you can make a sofa sleeve design that you actually like and make space for cup and other things.
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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.

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.


Great advice. May I add #11?…if you’re left handed (like me), build a left handed bench. It sounds obvious, but when I made my bench, I had looked at all the pictures in my books, laid out plans for a nice, traditional bench, built it, then realized my front vise should have been on the other end (I have no tail vise). I plane from left to right, and the front vise is always in the way.
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.
For the router you'll need a a 3/8" straight bit, an edge guide, 1/4"- and 1/8"-radius roundover bits, and a flush-trim bit with at least a 1-1/2" cutting length. Bits of this size are available only for a 1/2" collet. Some routers are capable of using multiple collet sizes. I was fool enough to buy a router that only had a 1/4" collet. More on that, later.
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.
All-in-all, the Windsor Design workbench is a nice companion, especially if your budget is limited. It is not as deeply designed and perfected as the other two benches, as there is only one vice, the bench dog holes are drilled through the surface (allowing debris to fall to the top drawers) and the drawers can be a little flimsy if you are not using glue for assembling it, but for the price they offer, there are plenty of perks.
I don't like to be ignored either. I came the same day Mahndo left after waiting 30-45 mins. I left a note with name and number but no one even called me back. I was completely ignored. I found a class over at The Corona Heritage Park in Corona instead. Their instructor answers when I call or text. Nice to be acknowledged! Going to finish beginning and take advantage of the key access in their intermediate class.
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".
Then I flipped the top and the base, lied up the base in the proper location relative to the top, I then positioned the front vise and the support MDF for the end vise, and marked the locations of the bolt holes. Then I flipped the base right side up, drilled small pilot holes from the bottom side where I had marked the locations, and then drilled shallow countersink holes from each side, then a through hole that matched the bolts. Finally I tried out the bolts and washers, and deepened the countersinks until the heads of the bolts were just below flush.
We follow many traditional standards because they impart the work ethic of doing things right, emphasizing quality, attention to detail, considering impact and longevity, and working to high standards for lasting work.  Our instructors are experienced craftspeople who recognize the value of passing on their skill set to the next generation of woodworkers.  We strive to invite you into our community by connecting you with others who have a passion for craftsmanship.  
My first attempt at making a cutting guide didn't work. What I ended up with worked fine for cutting panels, but the guide-strip was too narrow, and when the saw was extended fully for rough-cutting the 4x4's the clamp heads got in the way. So I made another. Actually, I made two more, so that I could cut one into shorter pieces that would be easier to handle.
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.
Woodworking Workbenches are available in a variety of styles. Open Style Wood Workbenches feature a large work surface and a lower shelf. 2-1/4" thick maple top with maple plywood lower shelf. Open Style Wood Workbenches are available as a 2-station unit (28"W) or a 4-station unit (54"W). Open Style Auxiliary Workbenches are used for placement against walls. Shelf features a rear curb to keep contents in place. Solid maple top features angle iron front edge. Plywood shelf is open for maximum functionality. Solid maple legs. Environmentally-friendly UV finish. Units measure 24"D and are available in several lengths and heights. Mitre Box Benches ensure wood pieces are kept flat while mitres are cut. Bench is made using solid maple unit with environmentally-friendly UV finish. Holds a mitre saw up to 26"W and provides a 24" square work surface on both sides. Mitre Box Benches measure 33-3/4"H. Sheet Metal Workbenches are made with a 2-1/4" thick maple top and is protected on two long edges with 2" x 2" angle iron. Solid maple legs and stringers. Plywood shelves are designed to provide open storage of 30" metal sheets. Measures 40"D x 32"H and available in widths of 60" or 96".
The bench would end up being about 5 feet long. I thought about cutting 5 feet out of my 8 feet long countertop and use the rest for a small support table. However, after a consideration, I decided to bypass the front vise altogether together with the overhang so my bench will be 4 feet long. This allows me to skip the MDF and just glue the two halves of the 8 feet board together.
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.
Working with reclaimed wood is a savvy use of resources, and the material's country appeal is undeniable. With just a saw and a small drill, you can reuse old fencing to make these simple woodworking projects: picket-inspired picture frames. Finish them off by hot-gluing clothespins or bulldog clips to hang your prints. Here’s a step-by-step guide.
Learn to use hand and power tools to shape wood into objects that will last for decades. You’ll learn about the properties of lumber, safe tool use, measurement and layout, and fundamental woodworking joints. At the end of this week-long course, you’ll leave with an end-grain cutting board, a mitered corner box, and the skills to build an unlimited range of wooden objects.

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.
Practical Woodworking is a 50 hour comprehensive course that focuses on the necessary skills, tools, techniques, and safety to successfully enter the world of woodworking and furniture making. Beginner, intermediate, and advanced students learn about furniture design, construction, and finishing as well as wood behavior, hand tools, machines, milling from the rough, squaring, and joinery. It  is an intensive class for folks who want to continue woodworking in the future. It is a week of hard work with a lot of fun mixed in. Watch the video and read below for a more in-depth look at what we're all about.

Those bums even have a stipulation that you can't connect any utilities to a shed. My plan is to adhere to the letter of the law if not the spirit. I plan to run a buried 20 amp power line out to the shed (this will be done professionally and properly according to whatever is required by the law), but it will require a manual connection to a junction box on the outside of my house to complete the circuit. That way, I can argue that the electrical connection is only temporary and is little more than a safe and buried version of an extension cord.
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