Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I’ve been so awfully busy lately. I can’t even count how many projects I have on the go. And most of them are for clients. But one is for me and only me. I need a new workbench and have been dreaming of one for years. And finally, it’s going to happen. Currently, I work on a big long bench which is rock solid. However, it has a shelf attached to the back and whenever the bench is banged or jolted, the shelf tends to unload itself. On the front is one small front vise. There are no other provisions for holding work, which makes working on it difficult. So I have been poring over books, studying other benches, and polling other woodworkers. And I have come up with an idea of what I want.
It will be massive. The top will be old growth Douglas fir. While Douglas fir is a soft wood, it really gets hard with time. This old growth fir is superb for a bench top because it has very tight grain which makes it especially strong. It is quartersawn as well, meaning that the growth rings run from face to face, rather than edge to edge as seen in flat or plain sawn wood. This mean that the majority of movement the wood experiences is in thickness, rather than width. It also makes it much more stable, so warping is minimized. The top will measure 8′ long by up to 36″ wide and 4-5″ thick.
I spent several weekends surfacing two pieces of cherry crotch which will be the legs. Each leg measures 36″ across and 36″ tall, though they will sadly have to be cut down. Between the legs will be a set of drawers, in three or four banks. There will be about 9″ of space between the bottom of the bench top and the top of the drawers to serve as a shelf and allow work to be clamped to the bench top. At the end of the bench will be a twin-screw vise. On the front, there may be a shoulder vise or a patternmaker’s vise. I don’t see too much use in the front vise which is commonly seen on workbenches as they have a great tendency to rack. Four rows of holes will be bored in the bench top to accomodate bench dogs and hold-downs. A sliding deadman will be featured along the front of the bench to support wide stock when working on its edge. The height will be adjustable by slipping blocks under the feet.