|Project by Jarrhead||posted 05-13-2009 01:59 AM||9373 views||48 times favorited||38 comments|
Well, I finally finished it! Started this workbench back in January. Woodworking is a hobby for me, so I don’t get to work on it every day. Before I decided to build this bench, I did a lot of research. For anyone thinking of building your own bench, I highly recommend Christopher Schwarz’ “Workbenches” book. Most of the reviews on Amazon for this book were spot on. This is the modern reference standard IMHO. I actually wanted to build the same bench that is featured on the cover of Chris’ book. However, I know I have at least one more move in my not to distant future, and I could not conceive on how to build his design and still be able to get it out of the basement when the movers came. Enter the October 2008 edition of Popular Woodworking magazine and the splendid article by Bob Lang on his “21st Century Workbench”. This design had the criteria I was looking for with regards to heft and workholding options. Most importantly, it is designed in a “breakdown” format, to facilitate ease of movement.
This is far and away the most intense project I have completed to date. In terms of size and complexity. I learned an awful lot along the way. Some of it the hard way. For those of you that have read that article, and maybe considered building your own version of this bench, I would say go for it! This bench is an awesome tool. I have already put it to use, and don’t know how I ever accomplished anything in the woodshop without it before. You may notice some slight variations between my bench and Bob Lang’s. First, and foremost, I elected to eliminate the shelf on the bottom. Two reasons for this decision: 1.) The plan did not really address how the cleats mounted to the bottom rail for support. I felt that for it to look decent the shelf must finish even with the bottom stretchers on each leg assembly. There just wasn’t sufficient material on the rails below that line to make mounting those cleats worth the trouble.; 2.) I was concerned that if I built a shelf down there, I would be damn tempted to use it for storage. I was worried that whatever I put on the shelf would eventually become a hinderance to clamping operations in the future. I also made my tool tray out of three separate trays instead of four. I wanted the option of hiding slightly longer tools in there.
What was the most important thing I learned? I would have to say that ash is not a very user friendly species. I am new to hand planing, and I have nightmares about tearout now. I know my next big tool investment is going to be a Lee Valley Low Angle Jack plane. I like the split top for the extra clamping options it provides. However, you should be be aware that flattening two separate slabs in the same plane may eventually be problematic, particularly if your floor is uneven. Let me know what you think?