Plans, Reader's Benches, Free Workbench Plans and New Ready Made Benches
Classes for Fall 2014
October 20th, 2014. I'm teaching three classes next month at the Seattle Woodcraft store. Class dates are November 1st. Second class is November 2nd. Last class is November 8-9. The first class will build the jig shaper jig featured in the FWW issue 241. And, you'll learn some great techinques in pattern routing and shaping. The second you'll build the Domino jig featured in FWW issue 242 and learn tricks on using the Domino for furniture making. Both are one day classes. The final class for the year is a two day class and you'll build one of my favorite pieces: The Blacker Entry Mirror. Go to the Woodcraft website for more details.
Fine Woodworking Articles
October 20th, 2014. The just released August, 2014 Finewoodworking issue (No. 241) has the first of two articles I've authored for the magazine. The article titled: "Smart Jig for Pattern Routing" features a jig I've developed over the last decade that makes pattern shaping much easier and much safer. It's been a great jig and I encourage every woodworker that uses a shaper or router table to consider building one. Here's a link to FWW Extras site that features a video that shows how it works.
The second article is about using the Festool Domino in Furniture Making appears in FWW issue 242. It also involves making a unique jig tht makes joints more accurate.
A New Workbench Website Ahead
June 3rd, 2014. Apologies for it taking so long to build a new version of this site. Too much work in the shop has been keeping me away from this site for a while. Coming in a month or so the new version of WorkbenchDesign.Net will be ready to launch. It's a completely new design and will incorporate many, many new features including reader forums designed for sharing our workbench experiences and ideas, the ability for readers to upload their favorite benches and tons of new plans and links to useful things. Good things to come so stay tuned.
Bargain Woodworker's Vise?
I read a review of this vise in American Woodworker Magazine. It seems that Northern Tool has found a way to import and sell an inexpensive 9" vise for a very low cost: $29.99. From the photos, indeed the castings don't look all that great, but the review is pretty positive and so, I'm curious. I'd ordered one to give it a try. Let me first say that yes, indeed you do get what you pay for in vises. There's no real substitute for the quality, precision, castings, features-like a quick release and strength of the best vises from Jorgensen, Wilton and Record, Emmert and Tucker, if you can find them. But, this is mini review is about if it's good enough for a beginner bench, or a second vise or for someone on a tight budget. Well, the castings were a little better then I was expecting and even more important the milling through the cast areas for the shafts and the driver was actually pretty tight. So it functions okay and feel pretty solid. It's shafts are only 5/8" and the drive shaft is just 3/4" and the handle is a thin 1/4" so you'll not get the strength of a beefier vise. Coud easily be bent. It's opening is not as wide as say a Jorgensen either. But, in the end I have to say that it all works pretty well. And, for $29.99 for a 9" wide vise, what can I say but it seems easily worth the price if your use is lighter duty. I'll attach it to one of the new beginner bench designs I'm working and give you a future report. Remember that really good vises are more then worth the cost. But, for the price this one is better then I thought. Just be carefully of bending that handle. I'll let you know how it goes. Here's a link: Woodworker's Vise .... Tim
Major Milestone for WorkbenchDesign.Net
Today marks a major milestone for this website. Since it was first launched in 1999 we've now served over 10 million pages to many millions of visitors. Though the site recently has had less frequent updates then I'd like the reason is that some major changes are going on in the background. A completely new website has been under constuction over the last few months with many major improvements and dozens of new features and additions. Keeping up with my furniture work has had to take precidence over this project. So, I apologize that it's taken longer then I'd like. In the mean time, thanks for all your support and the many nice emails that been sent along the way.... Tim
Outstanding Beginner's Workbench
Eddie Tom Caspar has done it again. He was the designer of my first workbench Workbench 1.0. He's created another outstanding inexpensive workbench that can be easily built by a beginner. And, though it's low cost it's a serious workbench. It's super flat and very stiff. Make sure you check out the latest American Woodworker Magazine (#156) to get the bench plans. To see the bench in action see the video here.
Consider the base...
Eddie Haske has something I particularly like in bench design: he's used a different base on it. Using stout old turned maple legs from a table, he's added them to his bench. It looks great. Check out his blog: eddiehaske.blogspot.com
Workbench Books & Plans Collection
Popular Woodworking has a very good deal that includes Chris Schwarz' Workbench and Workbench Design Books, plus 3 workbench plan CDs and a great poster in a bundle. I've bought all these books and plans as they came out and can tell you personally that they are indeed excellent. Great chance to put a lot of workbench information in your woodworking library!
Richard Maguire's English Style Bench
Richard has added a slightly contemporary English style workbench called the Empire to his extensive line of very robust custom workbenches: www.maguireworkbenches.com
WorkbenchDesign.Net on Facebook
Much is going in regards to the design of the next version of WorkbenchDesign.net. Already you can keep up with WBD via Twitter. Now, I've added Facebook to our presence. Just click on facebook.workbenchdesign.net for the latest info in the world of workbenches and click on "like" to follow the latest in the world of workbenches.
Hovarter's Innovative Leg Vise
A traditional leg vises excel at clamping longer work horizontally (especially when used with a board jack) and they have a very generous working depth from the bench top to the screw, typically around 10 inches. The lower fulcrum arm allows the vise to generate high clamping forces; unfortunately you must insert a peg into a series of holes in the fulcrum arm to adjust the vise to various workpiece thicknesses. Len has come up with another solution that eliminates pegs. Like his twin screw vise, it is very clever engineering. It's hard to explain here, but, his website has all the information and a video so you can see how it works.
Veritas Inset Wagon Vise
A very interesting new wagon vise is now available from Lee Valley. It appears to be a simple installation and can be retrofitted to an existing bench. Because of its small size, ease of installation and low cost, there may be some very interesting applications for this unique vise. Chris Schwarz been testing it for quite a while and has his observations here. And, for more detailed information here's the link to Lee Valley's page.
Richard Maguire's Workbenches
The great UK workbench maker has launched a new website dedicated to those interested in purchasing one of his exceptional custom workbenches and wooden bench screws in the United States. It's very much the same information as his UK website but dedicated to the American market and shows the costs involved in having a workbench shipped over the the States. Yes, it does work out to be fairly expensive but, as I mentioned these are exceptional benches. www.maguireworkbenches.com
Inspiration: Greene & Greene Furniture: Poems of Wood & Light.
Just so you don't think that I only think about workbenches I do actually build furniture regularly. One of the styles of furniture I like to build is in the style of two Arts & Crafts period architects: Greene & Greene. For those unfamiliar with their work you'll find lots of great info with a google search. And, if you're in LA make sure you visit the Gamble House. If you really want to learn about this outstanding furniture a new book by David Mathias just came out called Greene & Greene Furniture. It's a great book written by one of the most knowledgeable experts on their beautiful furniture designs. It is filled with lots of information and great photos and for any woodworker it is sure to be great book to have around to learn about this great style and for inspiration for what to build on top of your workbenches.
Review: The Workbench Design Book
New workbench books don't come out very often. And, when it's written by Chris Schwarz, one of the most passionate fans of workbenches, it's certainly worth a serious look. So, I've gotten my hands on a copy and reviewed this excellent book.
Veritas Quick Release Tail Vise
A new tail vise design doesn't come by very often. As with most things Veritas this one seems to be very well designed and very clever. Using a combination of sliding plates and cams, this unit is not only a quick release design but can also be retrofitted on to an existing bench. Considering how difficult it can be to mount a tail vise even on a new bench this is quite an accomplishment. I really like how it puts the dog holes very close to the edge.
A Remarkable New Vise
It's not often that someone comes up with a new engineering approach to vises, but Len Hovarter has done just that.
Len is an engineer and woodworker who's created a twin screw vise that uses a clutch mechanism rather then screws and a rack to keep both handles aligned. The result is quick release vise that works very well. He's just launched his website and taking pre-orders. His site has more information and a video of the vise in action. Check it out, here.
Richard Maguire's Latest Bench
Englands's great workbench maker has made available a video of his latest workbench, The Artisan put through all its paces. Also, he wrote to tell me that he's now turning his own woodscrews for his benches. Check his site out here.
A Roubo for 2010
Yes, it's possible that some people have a problem with workbenches. What outsiders call "an obsession" with workbenches. Frankly, I just don't understand what these people are talking about. But, if there is one of us who actually should join a 12 step program, it's Chris Schwartz of Woodworking Magazine. (At the meetings we just call him ChrisN.) He's created a seriously beefed up Roubo for the August issue and he's covered some of its construction in his blog: Check it out, here. For those of you that might want to take on building one just like Chris' he's got a DVD with videos and all the info coming out soon. It's a really great bench.
New Workbench Design Sponsor
As you look around the site, you'll notice that we have a new site sponsor: Benchcrafted. Jameel is the maker of terrific vise hardware and workbench plans. Serious tools for serious workbench builders. He's got a great blog, too. Do check them out.
A Walk Around Workbench
David Randall had a workbench design problem that a lot of woodworkers have: Very little workspace. He needed a short bench but wanted the ability to work all around his bench. In process he not only built a solid bench out 2-by material but also created a very unique vise arrangement that combines a tail vise and a shoulder vise on one end. Very clever! Check it out, here.
A Particularly Nice Bench
Darnell Hagen has built a particularly nice bench. As they say..."it's all in the details. His Cabinet Maker's style bench has a nice cabinet below, an imbedded Tucker Vise and even an adjustable cup holder. Check his design and plans at his website.
Roy Underhill's French Bench
The complete episode of Roy's construction of his French, Roubo-style bench is available in full from The Woodright's Shop. Cool! Here's the link: Bench Part One
A New Adjustable Height Workbench Plan
Getting a workbench height right for a woodworker is part of a building a good workbench. The problem is different woodworking tasks are best done at different heights. If you don't have room for multiple benches the solution is to build an adjustable height workbench. I know of only three available designs, one involves using a dedicated and expensive metal base. Charlie Kocourek has come up with a remarkable new design that incorporates some very clever ideas and torsion box construction. Check his design and plans at his website: www.jack-bench.com
Great New Workbench Plan
Jameel at Benchcrafted has done it again. Not only does he make some of the finest bench vises made anywhere, he has now added a workbench plan to his collection. Based upon a modern split Roubo style bench it features his terrific leg and tail vises plus several other unique features. It's a massive bench at 4" thick and 87" long. I've had the pleasure of seeing one of these benches being built by Jim Tolpin. The plans are most impressive at 28 pages and are incredibly detailed and a complete hardware package is available. Most impressive. Check them out here.
Garrett Hack's Ultimate Workbench
Garrett is one of the best woodworkers in the country. He's created a new workbench that will especially appeal to hand tool focused woodworkers. Here's a link to the article and a video tour.
It's always hard to find good woodscrews of the size and quality needed for building a traditional style workbench like a Roubo or Holtzappfel twin screw bench. Most of the available screws aren't seriously large. Now, Nick at Lake Erie Toolworks is offering 2 1/2" diameter wood vise screws. That should do it!
James Krenov 1920-2009
James Krenov, a legendary woodworker, author, and founder of the College of the Redwoods Fine Furniture Program, died at 89.
Workbenchdesign.net interviewed in Woodworker's Journal
Michael Dresdner, eZine Editor interiewed workbenchdesign.net for the magazine's latest issue. Find out about the history behind this website.
Follow us on Twitter
With so much going on maybe you'd like to keep up to date with new workbenches being created. Follow the bench design and building process on our workbenchdesign Twitter feed.
Richard Maguire has added to his line of very robust workbenches with a Dominy/Roubo modern design. Great looking bench. He's working on making these easier to ship to the US. Very nicely done!
I don't think I've ever seen more robust workbenches then Richard Maguire's. Made out of super dense steamed English Beech, featuring massive legs and 4" thick tops and traditional construction, these benches are incredible. He offers both Roubo and Dominy styles in various sizes, all built to order. Note that shipping from England could be a consideration.
New Vise From Benchcrafted
Considering that the well-tested designs we're using for contemporary benches are 3-400 years old, it's not often something comes up that's really new in the world of serious workbenches. Leg vises are one of the most ancient of workbench vises. Jameel at Benchcrafted who already offers wonderful wagon tail vise hardware has now created new leg vise that's really exceptional. Check it out here.
Workbenchdesign.net's 3D Model Collection
I'm always on the look out for really good free workbench plans. So, I've been working for a while to create a collection of the best 3D CAD ready SkechUp free workbench models I can find. I've culled through them to create a collection that I think would be of great interest to our viewers. I'll continue to refine this collection and keep it to the best workbench designs. Click here to see more.
New Workbench Plans
I've been doing a massive update of the site before the redesign and have added many, many excellent new plans both for sale and for free. Be sure to check them out.
A Great Bench
For those woodworkers that really like to work with hand tools, Mike Flaim's new bench is a real treat. He combines details from Roubo benches from Christoper Schwarz and Roy Underhill with several interesting ideas of his own. I thought mounting the Emmert vise on the end was a great idea. A great bench for handwork and it's built with readily available materials so it's not expensive to make. Mike has thoroughly documented the process on his blog at Fine Woodworking. Click here to see the full story.
A big loss to serious workbench builders. The Tucker Vise, made and sold by Lee Valley is no longer being made.If you're up to it send them an email and let them know that you'd like to see them continue to make it. Even if you don't want one right now, someday you just might. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Another interesting new portable workbench: The Skil X-Bench Workstation. This one has many optional features that might be of interest to woodworkers. There's various accessories and inserts for routers, jig saws, sanders, tail vises, storage, etc.
And now for something completely different. I've created the first of many new designs for shirts, mugs, bags and the like. Check out the first of the designs here.
A very interesting new portable workbench: The VIKA. In many ways you can think of this as a very well designed new take on the Black & Decker Workmate. Though it doesn't have a built in vise, it makes up for it with lots of new features. I saw these at Costco a few months back and just had to pick one up. It folds flat and adjusts in all kinds of ways. Very useful. You can get more information and order one on the VIKA website or if there's a Costco nearby you can pick one up at a considerable discount.
An adjustable height bench designed by Tom Caspar
is featured in the September issue of American
Woodworker. There's some very clever ideas included with
this new design. Tom, btw has designed many excellent benches
in the past including my own Bench 1.0
As a furniture maker that builds all kinds of different
height pieces from benches to chairs to tables, I'm a big
fan of this kind of workbench...Tim
A very interesting new portable workbench by Blum
Tools utilizes a torsion box design and pipe clamps for
it's vises. Very clever!
A new traditional
workbench plan is available via the editors of Wood Magazine.
It features two front vises.
It's not often that something innovative shows up
in the small world of workbenches, but it looks like BenchDog
makers of a very nice router system has come out with a line
of very interesting workbenches with lots of options. Click here for more info.
The wonderful Record vises
are alive and well. Hurray! Apparently, Record sold its' vise
patterns to Anant and they are now being produced in India
and the quality is reportedly good. They are sold by Amazon.com
and Highland Hardware. Thanks to Steve for the tip. For example,
the Record 53ED sells for $119.95
plus shipping. Click here to go
to the vise page for more info.
Woodsmith and Shopnotes Magazines now offers a free
easy-to-build workbench plan. The free
workbench plans section has this and several other free
workbench plans including a great new one from Popular Mechanics
to check out.