Aussie workbench, part 1

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Blog entry by olivine posted 12-26-2012 10:11 PM 5003 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So I’m moving to Australia from San Diego in a few short weeks. I’ve started using more and more hand tools in my work and I’m discovering just how inadequate my current workbench is so I’m leaving it behind. To decide what I want/need I ordered myself both of Chris Schwartz’s books on work benches for Chrismas. I’m closing in on a design and I seem to favor a modified Roubo.

But at the moment, I’d like to start a discussion about what wood I should use. If I were staying in the states I’d probably use ash or hard maple but I’m assuming they will be too pricey in Oz. I’m not too familiar with the Australian domestics as yet. What I’m looking for is a reasonably priced wood that is stiff, dense, and resistant to denting.

5 comments so far

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 3771 days

#1 posted 12-26-2012 10:48 PM

In Australia, most of the domestics are incredibly stiff, dense and resistant to denting – or being cut by your tools. Blue gum is about 2100 on the Janka hardness scale, compared to hard maple’s 1450. Evan Jarrah is 1900 or so. Australian cypress might work well at 1375, but no idea about affordability. My suggestion is more or less in line with what Chris seems to say – use whatever is cheap and local. In Oz, I suspect that may end up being an heirloom bench.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3083 days

#2 posted 12-26-2012 11:45 PM

use what ever is the cheapest
to avoid dents etc. then use benchhooks of all sorts when you saw or chiseling dovetails etc.
a simple board will do also
you canĀ“t avoid dents and sawmarks but you deffently can minimize it :-)


View shipwright's profile


7966 posts in 2766 days

#3 posted 12-27-2012 12:33 AM

Have you seen this one. The wood is universally available and cheap.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Bradley Anderson's profile

Bradley Anderson

15 posts in 1973 days

#4 posted 12-27-2012 01:49 AM

Over here on the east coast of Australia some of the local timbers are not suited to be a work bench or are way over priced. A lot of the Australian hardwoods are prone to movement and surface cracking. That being said we do have some nice southern timbers like Tasmanian Oak. Also other timbers can be found at most good timber yards like Merbau, New Guinea Rosewood. All that aside im in the design stage of my next work bench which will be made from an Australian hardwood called spotted gum, this can be found at most timber yard which they sell it for floor joist and beams for building houses so the cost is not too bad. One thing to think about is how you we will make the new bench Australian hardwoods are hard on cutting edges of tools, but with some timbers over here with name like: iron bark, axe breaker and brown mallet im guess you know these are hard to start with.

-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsmen can hide his mistakes! - "Walter Blodget"

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 2470 days

#5 posted 12-28-2012 10:49 AM

If you do look at Tassie Oak, consider Victorian Ash as an alternative.

Tassie Oak can, in fact, be any one of three species – Eucalyptus regnans, Eucalyptus obliqua or Eucalyptus delegatensis. Victorian Ash, on the other hand, can be either of two species – Eucalyptus regnans or Eucalyptus delegatensis. So they are essentially the same wood except for different names based on where they are grown.

Most importantly though, Victorian Ash is about half the price of Tassie Oak, or any other hardwood for that matter. It’s worth knowing that.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

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