Moravian Workbench

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Blog series by Tom updated 06-20-2020 08:33 PM 13 parts 29098 reads 20 comments total

Part 1: Moravian Workbench Build at the Woodwright's School

09-11-2019 06:46 PM by Tom | 1 comment »

I was fortunate to get the opportunity to take a class at Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School to build a portable Moravian workbench. The class instructor is Will Myers along with Roy Underhill. Will is wonderful and patient teacher and demonstrates many hand tool woodworking techniques. The class is 5 full days of hand tool heaven. There is a material fee which includes all the wood needed to build a complete workbench including a Lake Erie vise screw and hand made vise...

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Part 2: Setting up the Vise Part 1: The garter

09-11-2019 07:45 PM by Tom | 2 comments »

The first thing that you probably want to do when you get home is set up the leg vise. A mortise needs to be cut in the side of the vise chop to insert a garter which is a piece of wood that fits into a groove at the vise hub. I laid out the mortise 7/8” from the face of the vice chop. The mortise is 3/8” wide and 1-1/2” long. It needs to be aligned with the center of the vise hole. Then I chopped out the mortise with a 3/8” mortising chisel all the way thro...

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Part 3: Setting up the Vise Part 2: The parallel guide

09-11-2019 08:40 PM by Tom | 1 comment »

The parallel guide is the part at the bottom of the vise that has a pin inserted to lever against. The guide is made of oak that is 7/8” x 2” and 16” long. The guide slides in a mortise cut into the vise support board between the stretcher and the workbench top. The guide is mortise and tenoned into the vise chop at the school, but it is not assembled until you get home to make it easier to transport. The mortise is 1-1/2” x 7/8”. This allows 1/4” sh...

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Part 4: Turning the vise screw

09-12-2019 11:52 AM by Tom | 2 comments »

Now that the vise is operational, I wanted to turn a more pleasing shape on the vise hub. The challenge is locating the turning centers for the lathe. On the screw end, there were marks that appeared to be centered, so I could use that for the drive center. However, on the hub side, it was just a smooth flat surface. I used a simple method to locate a good center. I set the hub end on a piece of plywood and nailed four brackets around the hub to restrain it from moving laterally. ...

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Part 5: Vise leather

09-12-2019 02:45 PM by Tom | 0 comments »

It is helpful to add leather to the vise jaws. It greatly improves holding the work when using hand tools. The side of the workbench top is one of the vise jaws. I held off adding finish to the top and vice until I got the leather installed. I didn’t want the finish to interfere with adhering the leather. I bought a couple pieces of leather from the craft store. It’s a little pricey, but it was readily available and appropriately sized. To clamp the leather in the vice, I wante...

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Part 6: Building the Tool Tray

09-14-2019 01:40 PM by Tom | 4 comments »

I have seen that some people are not too fond of workbench tool trays or tool wells. Most of the complaints are that it is hard to keep organized and it collects a lot of shavings and debris from the work. I can certainly understand those concerns. For a power tool woodworker, it may be more useful to have a bigger work holding surface to clamp down the work. But I am pretty much a hand tool woodworker, and the tool tray is a help to keep a variety of tools at hand, but out of the way, be...

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Part 7: Building the Drawer

09-21-2019 01:32 PM by Tom | 0 comments »

I enjoy having a workbench drawer to store various hand tools such as marking gauges, knife, try square, dovetail saw, chisel, etc. Storing tools in a wood box of some sort helps protect the them from effects of moisture and moderates temperature changes to avoid the effects of condensation. My workbench is not currently in a climate controlled shop, so I think this is important so that I may keep a small kit of tools with the bench. The original Moravian workbench did not have a drawer ...

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Part 8: Installing the drawer

09-22-2019 03:43 PM by Tom | 3 comments »

The drawer will hang from the underside of the oak workbench top and it will extend out under the tool tray. I set the drawer back about 1” from the front of the bench so as to have some clamping surface available without removing the drawer. Since the top is 14” deep, that allows for about 13” of drawer runner mounted to the under side of the top. The drawer is 18” long, so it will extend under the tool tray by about 5-6 inches without support. I don’t think...

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Part 9: A Shelf

09-29-2019 03:05 PM by Tom | 1 comment »

The Moravian workbench is really designed for use with hand tools. Having a shelf below the bench is helpful to set some tools and keep larger items out of the way. The original example at Old Salem had a simple shelf which was a board set on the stretchers. I also want a shelf on my workbench but it needs to be removable to maintain the portability of the workbench. I designed my own shelf so that it can be easily removed and carried by one person. It is bracketed on three sides to...

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Part 10: The Iron Planing Stop

10-01-2019 07:40 PM by Tom | 1 comment »

The original Moravian workbench has a couple of square holes where planing stops were installed during its lifetime. On Will Myers design, he installed a custom tail vise setup with dog holes along the front of the bench. I like this setup very much and I may install something similar someday, but for now I just want a traditional iron planing stop in keeping with the historical workbench. I think that will work fine as I plan to use the workbench for breaking down and planing bigger stock...

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Part 11: Simple Work Holding

06-09-2020 12:43 PM by Tom | 3 comments »

I have been using the Moravian workbench for several months now. At first, I was not all that comfortable with the work holding methods, mainly because I have never used a leg vise. This was compounded by the leg vise needing to “break in” for a while. At first, it tended to be finicky moving it into position and would require nudging it with both hands. Also, I could not seem to find the best pin location for the size of the work piece and I would have to readjust. I have be...

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Part 12: Tool Storage

06-20-2020 01:26 PM by Tom | 0 comments »

Although this Moravian workbench is meant to be portable so it can go to a job site, it also can serve as a dedicated workbench in your shop. It is incredibly sturdy and the splayed out legs really resist racking. I plan to use mine as a dedicated shop workbench, although, I may take it to a job site if I am helping friends and family with a special carpentry project. So I made the drawer and shelf so as to be removable to maintain the portability. I am partial to keeping a set of tools...

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Part 13: Finishing Touches and a Close Call

06-20-2020 08:33 PM by Tom | 2 comments »

This will be the final installment, Lucky 13. I added a few finishing touches including a dust ramp, an iron ring pull for the drawer and a custom holdfast. I made the dust ramp from a piece of straight grained oak firewood. This is more of a nice to have, especially if you worry about debris in your tool well. I find it to be a nice convenience. Next I had a custom iron ring pull and holdfast made for the workbench by Eric Dennis at Roundhouse Blacksmith. He doe...

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