If you’ve read part 1 of this blog, you know that I’ve never had a “real” workbench. With everything I’ve done in the past, I’d focused on the power tools. That’s not a bad thing, but it meant that I didn’t do ANY handwork that couldn’t be done with a machine, and that if it couldn’t be done with a machine, then I would avoid it :-0
It’s not that I didn’t want to do any handwork, but rather that the machine work allowed me to finish projects faster. I could also learn how to use machines from the many books and TV shows that existed, but I didn’t have anyone proficient in hand tool use to help me out. That and I started doing a LOT of scrollsaw piecework to both pay the bills and to buy more power tools. With this type of work and this cycle, I didn’t NEED a real workbench. Throw in a dozen moves and a half dozen different workshops, and a bench just never percolated to the top of my list of priorities.
So then I moved here, to Ottawa. I have the space to build a workshop (garage), but not the budget. Yet! So I started to tune up some old tools that came with the house while I saved up for the new shop. Lumberjocks, Youtube and the internet have been great, giving me access to resources and techniques that I would never have dreamed possible even just a decade ago.
Then I was run down while crossing the street. It took a while, but my shoulder healed well and my leg is better, although I do have a stretched ligament that slows me down some. But the worst part was the head injury! My vision was shot; my short-term memory was pathetic and my ability to problem solve was effectively reduced to making decisions like “chocolate or vanilla”? It’s now almost 2 years since the accident, and I’m getting better with treatment, but I’m still very limited. Only in the last few months have I started to be able to think through (visualise) a wood joint or a process. Even then, I’m extremely limited in how long I can be effective for.
On the plus side, I can do some work in my basement shop. Using a hand plane or a drill press is okay, but using a router or a table saw is not; I lack the focus, both mentally and visually, to react at a speed appropriate to those tools. Which brings me back to: “Why do I need a bench, now”?
First and foremost: therapy! Using a plane or a handsaw feels really good. Given my limitations, some days I’m lucky if I can wash a load of dishes by hand or empty the dishwasher. Right now I’m just planing pieces of wood flatter so that I can work on my technique, but it feels SOoooooo GooooD that I can do that much, that I know I need to do more.
And that brings me to the second reason that I need a real bench now. If I want to use hand tools, then I NEED some way to hold the work securely. Even my wounded little brain can figure out that I now need a real woodworkers’ bench :-D
It can take me days to work through what should be a relatively simple problem, so I’ll be looking for some help from you for this build. But you’ll need to have the patience of a saint, because I’ll be doing everything at glacial speeds.
My next entries will provide some of my design criteria and what I’ve already figured out.