Moravian Workbench Build #1: Getting Started

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Blog entry by ElroyD posted 03-15-2018 05:06 PM 1504 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Moravian Workbench Build series Part 2: Bench Top »

A couple of years ago I started to get more into studying 18th and 19th century hand tool woodworking. At the time, I didn’t have a shop, and didn’t have anyplace to put one. During the summer I put cleaned out a section of our goat barn, put up a couple of sawhorses with a solid-core door on top to use as a workbench, and began to play.

Then daughter #5 came along.

Needless to say, babies take up a lot of time, so things were put on hold. Now that she’s a little more capable of entertaining herself, I’m back at it. Unfortunately my barn workshop filled up with stuff again, and the temperature outside is currently about 30 degrees. We’re also on our 3rd Nor’easter of the month, so the snow is a bit deep.

Not to be stopped, though, I began working on the first tool that I really need for my workshop. A good bench. I took over a small 4’ x 5’ section of our laundry room where I can work on the floor preparing stock, at least until it warms up enough to work outside again.

I’ve decided on the Moravian style portable workbench. I really like the design, and the portable aspect appeals to me. As a reenactor of the American Revolutionary War, I also like that it can be documented to the 18th century (outside of New England, unfortunately).

So, over the past few weeks, I’ve been stealing 5 or 10 minutes out of each day to work on gluing up and dimensioning the legs for my bench. Being a Stay at Home Dad, I don’t have much of an income, so pieces are being made from whatever lumber I can find stashed in various places on the property (two barns and a basement that have been filling up with my father-in-law’s “That might be useful someday” collection).

It didn’t take long for my kids to figure out where I’ve been hiding. A few of my daughters have tried their hand at planing. The nice thing about hand tools is that I don’t need to worry as much about them lopping off an arm. My four year-old really enjoyed it. I think I might let her help with mortising when the time comes. She loves anything that she can whack with a mallet.


-- Elroy

5 comments so far

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1448 days

#1 posted 03-15-2018 05:30 PM

Good luck with your bench, Elroy … I’ll be following along. Hope you can keep your little helpers busy … LOL!

View ElroyD's profile


134 posts in 1389 days

#2 posted 03-15-2018 05:46 PM

For some reason my comments on the photos didn’t come through. My four year-old (the one with the bright blue eyes) did a pretty good job of planing on her own. While taking off small curls she said “This is actually kinda fun.” Then later she looked at her sister and “Girls can do anything that boys can.” :-)

-- Elroy

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1448 days

#3 posted 03-15-2018 06:48 PM

Looks like you have a few future woodworkers there, Elroy. Teach ‘em while they’re young … good for you!

View Notw's profile


779 posts in 2554 days

#4 posted 03-15-2018 07:15 PM

I would also say their knees and backs are able to get down and do the planing a lot easier. Look forward to seeing this come together

View Oldtool's profile


2976 posts in 2991 days

#5 posted 05-24-2018 10:15 PM

Cute little helpers, time well spent when you work wood together.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

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