Monday, July 19, 2010

The despicable art of compromise. No new benches for now.

So, I did some soul searching about the proposed new bench projects. The short version is, I'm putting them off until I feel more secure in the idea that it's reasonable to build two new benches. That day won't come for a while.

Ready to bring home
The home bench project... I spent weeks poring over all of my workbench books, and sketching out versions of modified, shortened shaker style benches.  I really wanted a bench with a lot of storage, to hold all of the household tools and project "stuff." But the point of having a bench at home is to get my hand skills back up to snuff, and try a few new things that have intrigued me for a while now. I'm more interested in getting right to work than I am in detouring further into new-bench fantasies. So I decided that the best solution was to simply chop down the bench I had at the shop. The work is done, and the most noteworthy part of the exercise was using Chris' huge old Oliver sliding table saw. It's a terrifying machine that gives me the willies. But it's incredibly capable, and it's impossible for me not to be impressed. Cross-cutting a 2.5" thick, 24" wide maple top is not a small thing, I don't think. This machine thinks otherwise.

Shape of things to come
And the shop bench... well, when the shop is more profitable, the shop will be able to afford a new bench. I have many ideas. In the meantime, while my regular bench has been chopped and taken home, I do still have an 8' Sjoberg Elite that I can use. I thought it was nice when I bought it. It has since been moved to my shop equipment shit list. I have a list of issues with this bench, not the least of which is that it's been pretty unstable. At this point, it's moved back to something more closely resembling flat, so I feel reasonably comfortable in resurfacing it. But 2 years ago it was warped enough that re-flattening would have taken out something around 1/4" to 1/2" of the overall thickness. Had I done so, and then allowed it all to stabilize again, I'd have lost another 1/4" in flattening it now. I've thought about touching it up and selling it, but the truth is that I have better ways to spend my time. So I'll make it work, until I feel good about building something better.

I could bash this bench all day, but it's possible that I'm just being an overly fussy prick about something that will still do the job. It's big, it's heavy, and it's thick enough to support the massive Emmert, I think... It's long enough to be useful, and it does have some pretty hefty bench dogs. And now that it's a few years old, the wood may have seasoned enough that it will be pretty stable. I can hope, anyway. For now, I'm planning the Emmert install... and working on more profitable things in the meantime.