Building The Holtzapffel Workbench #1: Finding the lumber

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Blog entry by Mike Lingenfelter posted 01-24-2008 06:58 AM 8172 reads 17 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Building The Holtzapffel Workbench series Part 2: Starting the base »

Well I started the first step in building the Holtzapffel workbench. I went out last weekend and picked up some Douglas Fir for the bench and started to mill it up. I choose Douglas Fir for a couple reasons. First it was pretty cheap, I only spent about $150 on the lumber. Secondly, its a stable and stiff wood, which is good for a bench. It is also pretty hard for a “softwood”. I also used Douglas Fir on the small bench I built as a sharpening station. I like how it turned out. I think have some strategies for dealing with the tear-out I had on that project.

The big benefit of Douglas Fir was the price, but it is also one of it’s flaws. I did some digging through the lumber pile, but I still have to deal with some knots. I’m hoping I can bury most of them inside the top and legs. I may have to deal some knots on the top (hopefully small ones), but we will have to wait and see. I might also pick up a couple more boards, if I have some big knots to deal with. If they become a problem, I don’t have too much invested in the top.

One of the other benefits I listed, was that it is a stable wood. I think that showed itself when I was ripping the boards down. The top is going to be about 6 feet long. I was expecting to deal with the board pinching during the ripping cut. To my surprise the cut stayed straight and true. I have never seen that when ripping a board that long before. The kerf always seems to close up on me.

I didn’t take pictures of all of the lumber. Below is a sampling of some of the lumber for the stretchers. The smaller pieces were easy to find knot free sections.

This weekend I plan to laminated up the legs and stretchers and start on the base. I’ve rough cut the the pieces for the top, and I’m going to let them dry a little longer in my shop.


13 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4015 days

#1 posted 01-24-2008 07:42 AM

Good start. I miss Douglas fir.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4024 days

#2 posted 01-24-2008 09:56 AM

That’s great that you’ve started on this! Where did you end up getting the lumber?

Still going to do the wagon vise?

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4201 days

#3 posted 01-24-2008 03:44 PM


I’ll be interested in watching your blog, as I’m in the process of deciding what style of bench to build since I left my old bench in my old shop… (doesn’t make for a very productive woodworker, let me tell you).

Keep us in the know!

-- Ethan,

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3901 days

#4 posted 01-24-2008 04:05 PM

Great start. Thanks for chronicling the build.

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4141 days

#5 posted 01-24-2008 05:00 PM

Call me a rebel, I’m still going with the wagon vise. If it doesn’t work out, I think I can patch the top easily and add a quick-release vise without any problems.

I was planning to go to a hand-cut dovetail class this weekend, but it was cancelled yesterday because only only 1.5 people signed up. I know I was the 1, because I prepaid. I’m very said, but now I can work on the bench which makes me feel a little better.

I ended up getting the Douglas Fir at Dunn Lumber over in Lynnwood. The other place I found near my house was too expensive and didn’t have much of a selection.

View johnjoiner's profile


160 posts in 3920 days

#6 posted 01-24-2008 05:27 PM

If they’re on the small side you could look at knots in the bench top as opportunities for unique, unplanned dog holes! ;-)

-- johnjoiner

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4427 days

#7 posted 01-24-2008 06:04 PM

Great start Mike Good luck and th build and sorry about the class.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4141 days

#8 posted 01-24-2008 06:04 PM

I hadn’t thought about drilling a knot out for a dog hole. It would need to small, otherwise it could be a pain drilling through a knot. I’ll have to see how that works out.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3989 days

#9 posted 01-25-2008 01:43 AM

Got’er goin,’ Mike. It’ll be fun to watch.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View jcees's profile


1060 posts in 3826 days

#10 posted 01-25-2008 02:29 AM

If you end up with knots on the face and you want to hide them you might think of using “dutchman” patches or take it a step further and check out the latest issue of Pop Wood magazine for an article titled Perfect Patching.

You picked a great design to follow too. If I weren’t already hip deep in my own design I probably would have opted for the Holtzapffel. I look forward to checking in on your progress.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4141 days

#11 posted 01-25-2008 03:10 AM

J.C. – I’m not concern about seeing the knots, but planing through them when I have to flatten the top. Your idea of a dutchman might a solution, if I have a large knot. I might just go a little deeper than a normal patch. That way I will have room to flatten the top several times.

Thanks everyone, you have come through with some good ideas.

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4024 days

#12 posted 01-25-2008 03:11 AM

Sorry about the class – too bad he couldn’t have given you a one to one class… (or would that be one to one and a half?)

That would’ve been great. I’m glad you have your hands full this weekend with the bench though!

We’ll be looking out for the next post in the series…

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3700 days

#13 posted 04-04-2009 07:04 PM

This is going to be a great bench.

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