Monday, March 11, 2013

Say That Again

Introducing the really cheap Clueless Woodwright's version of the Close Grain School of Woodworking workbenches inspired by Paul Sellers' adaptation of the traditional English workbench design. Confused? Me too, and I'm building the dang thing.

So as I get more into hand tool woodworking it has become abundantly clear that I need a traditional style workbench. However, my workshop is fact tinier than my tool budget if you can believe it. So a massive oak Roubo bench with the latest and greatest vise hardware is kind of out of the question. As a result I took to the web to find a low cost, small space, fast build time bench design that I could make within my budget so that I can get onto woodworking.

Richard from Maguire Workbenches made this amazing English style bench

As it turns out I found the Close Grain School of Woodworking, which is actually in Pepperell, MA (a hop, skip, and a jump away from Groton). Steve Brennan, the founder and instructor at the school, had a post about his low cost, easy to build workbenches based on Paul Sellers' designs. The benches were made from construction grade lumber (which means Spruce or Fir in New England) and had a single face vise.

Steve Brennan's finished workbench for his school

So being the delinquent engineer that I am, I immediately took to Solidworks to sketch out a basic plan for my bench design. I made some adjustments to the Close Grain workbench, mainly a beefier tool tray with dust ramps and some bread board type end caps that would help keep everything together in the long run (hopefully).

Rough model of the workbench. 54" L x 23" W x 29" H (Yes I am that short)

The next day I ran to the lumber yard, before The Boss could talk me out of it, and bought $63 worth of knotty, twisted Spruce 2x4s, 2x6s, and 2x8s (I shudder to think that these were the best specimens in the yard!). Also, that night I went online and ordered the cheapest face vise that I could find as well as a pair of Gramercy holdfasts.

Face vise and holdfasts. As you can see my current workbench is lacking!

There is no turning back now, so next there will be a lot of laminations, exclamations, and frustrations before the bench is done. And don't judge me and say things like "it is really worth it to get a nice vise, and quality lumber" blah, blah, blah. My very objective is to build the cheapest, fastest bench possible so that I can get to woodworking and develop the real skills and tools that I will need to build my next workbench, which I promise will have no less than $500 worth of vise hardware and 300lbs of hardwood.

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