Making a Workbench




In September 2016 I taught a 2 week class at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine. The classroom was outfitted with traditional woodworking benches and I fell in love with how easily the vises allowed material and jigs to be fixed to the bench with minimal effort. The weight of the bench is also a part of the secret to hand-planing smooth finishes on woods. A board fixed to the super thick work bench top absorbs vibrations of the plane and allow for a crisp smooth cut. When I returned home, I decided it was time for me to build my own traditional bench. Where to start? I first needed material, and the best place for it was in my old workbench.




My old pupleheart bench top. It also has a mutenye wood and ebony detail that I will preserve. The arrangement of woods in this determined a lot of how I cut it up and intergrated it into the new bench.

Now in sticks after going through the tablesaw.

Combined with maple some of the old bench is clamped into the very thick new bench top.

The rest of the old bench is now part of the base of the new bench. All together the new bench is roughly 300 pounds.

I drilled a circle through the maple to reveal the original ebony and mutenye detail. This is part of the base structure of the new bench.

Adding vise hardware.

Planing the top true.

Marking spots where dog holes get drilled. Dowels will live in each hole that pop up to help clamp boards to the bench. These are called bench dogs.

Drilling dog holes. A number of steps were done to ensure the hole is being drilled perpindicular to the bench top. I am only free-handing the last bit of drilling here.

Making bench dogs from purpleheart of the old bench.

Making my own design for a dog spring. This sits inside each dog and keeps it from dropping out through the bottom of the hole.

The dog in it's hole.

The completed bench. The presses are also built from scratch and easily fit in the slot of the benchtop.



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