Operation Holtzapffel #1: Getting started

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Blog entry by Damian Penney posted 02-27-2008 04:35 PM 1461 reads 1 time favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Operation Holtzapffel series Part 2: Cutlists »

So after looking at all the options I decided to just go ahead and build a bench. I really liked the look of Chris Schwarz's Holtzapffel bench

Holtzapffel Bench

So that’s what I’m going to build, ordered the “24 Veritas Twin Screw vise from Lee Valley for the front and like Chris’ the large quick release steel vise for the tail

Twin Screw Vise

Steel Vise

Yesterday I went to PALS and picked up the lumber for the base which I’m going to build first. Building it all from maple, and it’s going to be a beast, just the 12’ x 5” 8/4 board I’ll be using for the stretches weighed a ton :)

Now for my question (I’ll post this as a forum topic too). Chris glued up the top using pieces that were 1 3/4 wide (so it was all 8/4 stock) to get the 24” width, but I saw that PALS had 12/4 stock, about 8” wide. Would I be better off using three of these huge chunks for the top, or will the smaller laminated strips be more stable (I’m guessing the latter)

Hopefully I’ll get some shop time this afternoon to start building the base :) Will keep you posted with pics a plenty.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

18 comments so far

View cowboy's profile


68 posts in 3755 days

#1 posted 02-27-2008 04:41 PM

I think that is a great idea to build your own and you will certainly appreciate it a lot more this way.Yes as you stated the narrow boards will be more stable.I can’t wait to see pics

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3751 days

#2 posted 02-27-2008 05:11 PM

Great! This will be a fun series to read.

-- Eric at

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3956 days

#3 posted 02-27-2008 05:23 PM

This should be intresting!

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

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4019 days

#4 posted 02-27-2008 05:51 PM

either will work but I would think that the thinner ones would be less expensive to use.

Keep us posted as it progresses.

-- Hope Never fails

View bfd's profile


502 posts in 3774 days

#5 posted 02-27-2008 06:35 PM

Hi Damian,

I have been thinking about what to do for my bench as well…Whether to buy or build and found your previous post very interesting. It prompted me to start my own research. Although I would love to have a Lie Nielsen custom built workbench I also don’t want to drop 2k + shipping charges to CA. And like yourself would rather spend the time building furniture then building things for the shop, however, the notion of building one’s own bench, the heart of any shop, is a hard one to pass up. In some respects building a workbench is the ultimate furniture project, it must be built to the same tolerences and exactness. And like any furniture project you want to build something that is useful and will last a lifetime. What a great sense of satisfaction it will it be to know every future project you build will be built on a bench that you made. Seeing your previous projects this bench will be AWESOME!
The bench you have chosen is beautiful. Are there detailed plans that you are working off of? Please keep us posted on the progress as I want to learn as much from your experience as possible before I embark on my own.

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3959 days

#6 posted 02-27-2008 07:02 PM

At the end of the day it wasn’t that hard of a decision; twice the bench for the money and the satisfaction of having built it myself :)

I’m working from the plans in Woodworking Magazine #8 and the only difference will be using the Lee Valley Twin Screw instead of the wooden screws Chris used.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 3853 days

#7 posted 02-27-2008 07:33 PM

Looks like you have a good start. Please keep us informed.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3930 days

#8 posted 02-27-2008 08:32 PM

Damien, I think I’d use the 8/4 for the top and the rip to 1 3/4 wide is probably a good idea as well. it will be more stable and you get to have all that fun getting it flat. Remember, you’re building a tool, not something to impress your fellow Lumber Jocks. LOL

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 3964 days

#9 posted 02-28-2008 12:49 AM

And aaaawaaaay he goes….this is great that you’re going on this!

If Mike Lingenfelter doesn’t run across this – you may want to contact him re: the top. He’s in the process of building this bench now too.

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

View Steffen's profile


326 posts in 4003 days

#10 posted 02-28-2008 02:32 AM

I love shopping at PALS…so does my dog. It’s nice to see someone who knows a place I go to.

-- Steffen - Kirkland, WA

View RJones's profile


316 posts in 4123 days

#11 posted 02-28-2008 03:05 AM

There ya go man:) I Can’t wait to see it finished


View Kevin's profile


291 posts in 3925 days

#12 posted 02-28-2008 05:11 AM

This is the same type of bench that I am leaning towards right now. Mine will be Ash top and Pine base (reclaimed lumber). I am looking forward to watching your progress as I will not be able to start mine until I get the lumber reclaimed.

-- Kevin, Wichita, Kansas

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3842 days

#13 posted 02-28-2008 12:15 PM

You are going to need about ten people to help you move it into place. Looking forward to the pictures.

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6851 posts in 3947 days

#14 posted 02-28-2008 02:51 PM


You’re very fortunate to have the opportunity to do this. Many of us lumber jocks would love to be able to build this project, and especially the bench you chose to build. That’s a beauty all right.

Makes mine look like a toy. (well almost)

It’s quite an undertaking, as those pieces will get very heavy, very quickly!

8/4” is probably the way I would go.

Have a great time building this, as it will be with you forever so enjoy the process.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Olaf Gradin's profile

Olaf Gradin

73 posts in 3807 days

#15 posted 02-28-2008 05:22 PM

I have the greatest respect for the Hotlzapffel bench – I’m building one myself. Maybe we can start our own club of other European fusion bench builders! I’m using Ash – a local tree and probably Green Ash as opposed to a Northern White. I look forward to seeing how your progress goes. Mine is slow-going as I have a lot of cart-before-the-horse issues to work out.

-- It takes a viking to raze a village. &mdash Blog'r:

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