Blog — Workbench RSS



The Gift of Doing Stuff You Love with Friends

I like to run. Specifically trails - the steeper, the better. Few things make me giddy like bombing down a rugged, mossy, meandering mountain path, or cresting the last rise before the summit and seeing the horizon burst into view. But as family and work obligations take precedent, almost all of my running takes place in the early morning hours. 5 a.m. is a lonely time, even in a place as predictably bustling as Acadia National Park in the summertime. I rarely see another soul. What this means practically, though, is that when I happen across someone else out on the trails, I feel an instant connection with that person and the experience that we're both engaging. I want to...

Continue reading



Drawboring the Workbenches

  Yesterday morning Robell, Mike, and I met at the studio to pick up where we left off on the bench build. We had just begun fitting stretcher tenons into their mortises at the end of day one so we picked back up there in the morning. When we cut the tenons, we followed Mike’s mantra “When in pine, leave the line” as pine is so great at compressing when joinery is assembled. Because we intentionally left them a hair thick, they almost all needed some paring to slide home.   Then we began laying out the bridle joints for the rails joining the top of the legs. We cut out the stock to length and transferred the exact shoulder-to-shoulder...

Continue reading



Nicholsons Off to a Good Start

  Yesterday was a blast. Mike and I met Robell yesterday morning at the shop and after visiting over coffee, we discussed the chicken scratch and doodles we called “plans” and pawed through the rough lumber we’d set aside for this project. The benches are designed around the material I had stacked and stickered in my yard so it took Mike and I a bit the other day to choose just the right pieces. Mike and Robell cut the legs to length while I ripped out and planed the stretcher stock. We then planed the best face and two sides of the 4x6 legs and choose the orientation and position of the legs that looked best while avoiding placing mortises...

Continue reading



12’ Built-in Nicholson Workbenches

  Today and tomorrow we have a guest working with us. Robell from Atlanta, Georgia is spending some time up here in Maine and offered his help with some projects around here. Even though we’ve been working on the Tables video and a few conservation projects, the rest of this week we’re going take some time to build a few new benches. Yes, more benches. Two 12-foot benches, in fact. These are not destined for this 14’ x 17’ shop, though. They are being built for our new shop that will be raised this September. More on that later but for now just imagine 200-year-old hand-hewn chestnut. Yes. We’re excited.  Today, we are going to begin building two English joiners’...

Continue reading




Roman Workbench Build-Along

  Inspired by Chris Schwarz’s article in Issue Two “Decoding the Roman Workbench”, Mike and I have decided to build our own Roman (i.e. staked) benches. I’ve been doubly curious about this form because Jonathan Fisher’s bench of this type survives in his house (now a museum) and I’ve really wanted to get some time working at one before finishing off my book on him this winter. The week of February 20th, Mike and I will each be building a bench. I will be basing mine largely on Fisher’s bench, which is a 12.5” wide by 7’ long rough-sawn board with four riven and hatcheted legs. His is a little less than 2” thick but the plank I have set...

Continue reading



Chris Schwarz on Using the Low Roman Workbench: Issue Two Table of Contents

In my mind, one of the most interesting bits of woodworking research to crop up in the last few years has been Chris Schwarz’s journey into “Roman” workbenches. If you’ve been following along at his blog, you’ll remember he built two different variations. One of which is a based on a 16th century plate and is essentially the precursor to the modern workbench. It’s funky looking but pretty familiar in function to modern woodworkers. It’s the other bench that has grabbed my full attention because it is so different to the way we work today. This second workbench he built is based on illustration of ancient Roman workworkers. Besides the fact that it has 8 “staked” legs, it is so...

Continue reading



The Bench Bites Back

It seems that one of the hurdles folks have to installing a toothed planing stop in their workbench is fear of the teeth marring the plane iron. They worry that as the plane works the stock thinner and thinner all the sudden out of the blue, “BAM!”, your edge is toast. I’ve been using a toothed planing stop regularly for a few years now and never once had an incident like that. I’ve found that woodworking demands so much attention anyway that working the height of the stop into your consciousness is not a big deal. As long as you’re awake and paying attention, you will have no issues. This morning, I was barely awake and hardly able to pay...

Continue reading