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Hand tool workbench

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Blog series by brianl updated 1280 days ago 8 parts 27515 reads 32 comments total

Part 1: Getting Started

1370 days ago by brianl | 3 comments »

Due to a change of circumstances in my life, I recently moved from Nashville, Tennessee to Boston, Massachusetts. In the process I lost my garage workshop and gained a very small room in a dingy basement. Due the the space and noise constraints I have decided to try my luck with hand tools instead of the power tools I have relied on in the past. Since my bench was left in Tennessee, I decided that the first thing I needed to build a new workbench. One that was sturdy, solid, hand made, ...

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Part 2: Starting with the legs

1370 days ago by brianl | 4 comments »

I changed the overall dimensions of the bench to accommodate a top that is two feet by four feet. My shop is pretty small so I’m trying to make everything more compact. My first task with the new bench was to create the end assemblies. So, I used a German cross cut handsaw (http://www.traditionalwoodworker.com/24-Hand-Saw-7-TPI-Cross-Cut-Teeth-Germany/productinfo/520-0600/) I ordered from traditional woodworker and got to work. Once I rough-cut the lumber down, I used my new Stanl...

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Part 3: Finishing the End Assemblies

1369 days ago by brianl | 1 comment »

Before I put the end assemblies together I wanted to rig up the levelers. To level the bench I am using Hockey pucks with 1/2” bolts epoxied in them. I am then epoxying nuts into the legs of the assemblies. The Levelers: Testing the fit of a nut after I drilled a hole in the bottom of a leg using my drill press and a forstner bit. Once the levelers were done it was time to look into finishing up the ends. I went ahead and used a 3/8” forstner bit to drill holes...

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Part 4: Stretchers

1364 days ago by brianl | 3 comments »

Now that the end assemblies are finished, it’s time to see about getting the stretchers rigged up. They use a home-made bed bolt system that consists of a bolt that goes through the leg and into the stretcher where you make a mortise to receive a nut. In retrospect I should have just ordered bed bolts from Highland Woodworking. For more info on bed bolt joints, see this Fine Woodworking article. Here you can see the mortises and the nuts that went into them. I used a forstner bit...

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Part 5: Building the top

1343 days ago by brianl | 6 comments »

Now that I have my base built, it is time to start on the top of the workbench. To do so, I decided to go with a glue-up of 2×4s cut in half. In the end my top should be 48” long and about 30” wide. Here are some initial pieces to show you the scale:    To build the pieces, I cut a douglas fir 2×4 in half, then hand-planed it to remove the rounded corners. I used my number 5 jack plane to remove material and my number 6 to smooth it out. I occasi...

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Part 6: Tool rail and Leveling

1307 days ago by brianl | 7 comments »

Since I got the top basically put together, it was time to worry about attaching a tool rail and leveling the bench. I constructed the levelers from four hockey pucks. I drilled a recess in them and epoxied in a bolt by the head. I then drilled a matching recess in each leg and epoxied a nut in each leg. By spinning the hockey puck the bolt will move in and out, helping to level the bench. To add stability to the system I also added a washer to the bolt head and epoxied that to t...

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Part 7: Front Vise & Shelving

1300 days ago by brianl | 1 comment »

Slowly plodding along. I was out of town for almost the entire month of December so not much has been done. However, I did manage to finally get the bottom shelf installed correctly. My cuts were a bit too long so I ended up touching up the boards with a low angle block plane and then just screwing them in place. In addition to a storage area, the shelf also serves to hold ballast. You see, the original design of this bench was almost twice as large. However, in order to fit it into...

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Part 8: Finished!

1280 days ago by brianl | 7 comments »

Finally, my bench is complete! The last component – the shoulder vise, took the longest to fabricate and install. To be fair, I did lowball it and bought a Chinese-made vise from woodcraft. It’s pretty easy to see the differences when I compare it to my Jorgensen front vise. The machining is inferior, the instructions are abysmal, and the fit is rough. I guess I got what I paid for. If I were to redo it, I’d go for a twin-screw vise.To wrap the frame I built, I hand-res...

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