My First Workbench #1: Day 1

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Blog entry by RaggedKerf posted 08-10-2012 01:33 PM 3602 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of My First Workbench series Part 2: Day 2 The cross cut jig »

After debating with myself for the past 6 months or so, I finallly decided on a design and got the nod from my CFO to go buy the lumber (it helps that my local Menards had a sale on everything in the store, including lumber). I won’t go into all the details and back story on the blog here, I’ll reserve that for my full up woodworking blog over at:

Feel free to visit that site for all the details, more photos, my thoughts, etc. I will endeavor to post pictures and keep an abbreviated work journal here (just to save myself hassle. I set up the Wordpress account last month and I just can’t bring myself to update 2 blogs of the exact thing).

So, that said, this is my first workbench, heavily influenced by Chris Schwarz and his famous Workbench book (also from the ever popular Scott Landis book as well). Since this is my first big project, and I haven’t really established myself as a woodworker to the finance department (which is critical for my continuance in this hobby!!!) I needed to accomplish a few things with this work:

  1. do it right, and make it look good
  2. do it inexpensively (not neccessarily cheap, per se)
  3. make it last
  4. make it suitable to typical homeowner DIY projects, not just woodworking
  5. establish my “street cred” so to speak with the CFO to pave the way for future work (and tools!)

With those goals in mind, I came up with the following design:

  • 36” high
  • 6’ long (to fit the available space in my garage/workshop
  • 27” deep (again, to fit space)
  • laminated 2×4 top for weight, stability and $$$
  • 4×4 post legs for same reasons
  • all wood construction (drawboring with oak pegs)

I want to include a leg vise and I’m still working on the design for that one. I just now saw a project here on LJ that showed a DIY leg vise that looks like it will fit the bill (don’t have a link because I clicked away too fast by accident, now I have to find it again to study in detail). I don’t have $300 to spend on a vise so this will be homebrewed. I realize with the all wood construction I have set myself a HUGE challenge but I feel confident that if I take my time and have patience, I can do it

I’m also fascinated by the sliding deadman and want to try my hand at one of these and some homemade benchdogs. So, all in all this thing will be very much cobbled together from inexpensive wood (when I can slip in a board here or there at the BORG when shopping for other stuff for our reno projects :) ) and I can promise you she won’t be the prettiest girl at the dance but she’ll be mine and I hope to learn a whole lot from this experience.

If I’m lucky, you might get a few laughs out of it (for all you more experienced lumberjocks) or pick up a few lessons from my (inevitable) mistakes (for you fellow noobs).

So, Day 1 was all about hunting/gathering. I went to Menards and got the lumber (after an hour of sorting through their bins), glue and oak dowels and hauled it home. After careful sorting and stacking, here’s the workbench so far:

You’ll notice I have some of it (the stretchers and other scrap) stored above the garage door: the previous owner (we’ve lived here about a month) put that little storage jig there and I had no idea what to do with it until today! I lucked out in that the previous owner (who also built the place 17 years ago) loved wood: all the paneling, trim and doors are solid oak…we have lots of scraps and leftovers in the garage for me to play with now!

So, that’s it for day one—-if you want to read more see vaughtwoodworks for more pics and details. Gotta skip town for the next few days for my wife’s class reunion and bring the kiddos to visit the grandparents, so the wood can rest and acclimate while I’m away. Next week I will work on jigs to prep the wood, and hopefully start getting things rolling! I can’t even describe how excited I am, I have a whole list of projects I’m ready to work on once the bench is done…

-- Steve

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