Monday, June 21, 2010

General update... bench projects on the way.

As I've mentioned in the last two posts, my hand skills are in need of a serious dusting off. So, one of the solutions is to start doing a little bit of work at home. Once I'm done with the current project, and make more progress on the chess table refinishing, I'm going to be making a small bench for use at home.

It should be an interesting project to write about, for several reasons. First and most obvious, I'm a woodworking geek, and there's just something about building a workbench that just gets me going. I'm going to have to flex my creative muscles, because I want to make the bench out of material I already have on hand, rather than splurging on new lumber or hardware. That may sound a little misleading, since I have a fair amount of nice lumber on hand. This isn't going to be a budget bench, or built out of scraps, and the vise will come from one of my benches at the shop. But the other reason that the project will be possibly interesting to home-bound hobbyists is that the at home context adds a few complications.

This is going to be a short bench: it's not going to be longer than 4.5 feet, if it's that long. For most work, that should still be enough space, but it's still smaller than I'm used to taking up. I've been taking my time with the design to make sure it's as useful as possible, with minimal wasted space. Since space is at a premium, I'm going to include built-in tool storage. It's not clear yet whether or not that element will be completed in the shop, or at home. I'm guessing home,  since building drawers is a good skills building exercise, but we'll see.

Because this will be at home, I want the bench to look pretty nice. No, I'm not planning on serving dinner on it or anything, but it'll be located in the entryway just inside my front door. If I have clients come by to visit, I want them to be immediately impressed. The top will be laminated out of maple that I have on hand. The frame will be built with some cherry that I've had around for a while. I'm planning to use some wedged tusk tenons to tighten up the stretchers, as a decorative element; no exposed nuts and bolts. (Not that it's hard to hide nuts and bolts, but this seemed like a more elegant solution to holding the frame together.)

In other bench building news, I'll also be reworking my bench in the shop. The short of it is that I've decided I want a longer and thicker bench surface that will accommodate the Emmert vise I've been sitting on for over a year now. This winter's chair-building exercises have sold me on its virtues, and it's time to put it to good use.

For the serious geeks who check in periodically and want to know, the influences on the home bench will be taken from Chris Schwartz' book, mixed with some Shaker sensibilities and a few other ideas. The new bench at the shop will probably have some serious French influences.

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