handtool workbench #1: beginning the process

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Blog entry by Tugboater78 posted 07-01-2013 06:47 PM 2519 reads 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of handtool workbench series Part 2: starting some planing »

I have been wanting/needing a solid workbench to use for hand tool work. Been trolling the site for almost 2 years now soaking in the needed information and ideas from many of the skilled members and i think i have an idea. I am still not for sure of exact dimensions or style i want. I am leaning towards a Nicholson/Sellers bench with a twin screw vice. I really like this one here. Roughly 7 foot length, 30 inches wide, ~35 inches in height ( 35 seems to be a comfortable height for me from some trials with my hand planes. The top i believe will be final thinkness of 3 inches. I came up with the length based on the size of the space i have to put it and the best use of material at hand. I was aiming for 8 feet but it just isn’t in the cards. 30 inches deep is enough room to work and have tools able to sit on bench, still undecided on having a tool well.

all wood will be reclaimed from a house i dismantled last summer and saved as much of the rough sawn, 100+ year old timber. All red oak i believe, it is oak in any case.

More thoughts to come later, and I get more input to finalize the design. Playing with Sketchup to come up with something before i really get started.

the start: i would like to do most of the work without sucking on the power grid, but i do not have a decent ripsaw at the moment so my circular saw has to step in for the rough dimensioning. i do not own a power planer or jointer and none of my friends do either so all that work will be with my hand planes.

halfway through ripping

what should end up as legs they are ~5.5”-6” square, they were in the house as studs, spaced between every 3 2x and enclosed all doors and windows.

and ~ 13’ long. None of the ones chosen have the pith and are 1/4 of the tree they came from i believe ( thought of ripping them out for as much quartersawn as i can get but not sure if my saw can take it, still may happen)

a crosscut look at the grain on one board, pretty tight old growth i believe, tried to pick out the best cut but i will have to settle with what i can dig out on some.

what used to be either the ceiling or floor joists 2×8x15+

some already ripped and crosscut to roughly 3.5”x2”x 7.5’

and all cut and stacked in the spot they will be sitting when completed, till i can get to planing them down.

hopefully can get them together soon
more to come later, had to stop for righteous tstorms rolling through

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

15 comments so far

View Mosquito's profile


10899 posts in 3298 days

#1 posted 07-01-2013 06:50 PM


Can’t wait to see another bench come together :-)

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Mauricio's profile


7166 posts in 4157 days

#2 posted 07-01-2013 06:53 PM

Nice! I’ll be following.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Don W's profile

Don W

19889 posts in 3573 days

#3 posted 07-01-2013 06:55 PM

reclaimed oak. Nice!!!

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View JayT's profile


6419 posts in 3216 days

#4 posted 07-01-2013 07:01 PM

That’s some great lumber, Justin, it’ll make a fantastic bench.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View yrob's profile


340 posts in 4658 days

#5 posted 07-01-2013 07:10 PM

They do not make houses like they used to. Now, its flimsy 2×4 which of course are really 1.5×3.5 and not even oak, pine..

I was getting insurance quotes for my house the other day (its a victorian farmhouse build in the late 1800’s) and the insurer was quoting me a high price because “its an old house”. Never mind the fact it has withstood 150+ years of weather, storm etc.. and still in perfect shape (we redid all electrical and plumbing so its all modern stuff). My so-called “old house” is build likewise with rough-sawn heavy oak timber and is not going to fall down easily..

That being said, your timber will make a wonderful heavy bench. Its gonna be a heck of a workout to plane and dimension all the lumber by hand.

-- Yves

View waho6o9's profile


8995 posts in 3582 days

#6 posted 07-01-2013 07:29 PM

Major points on the Galoot scale.

Oh yeah.

View PurpLev's profile


8645 posts in 4654 days

#7 posted 07-01-2013 07:37 PM

nice progress, and great source for lumber. a heirloom piece in the making

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View AnthonyReed's profile


10164 posts in 3446 days

#8 posted 07-01-2013 08:46 PM

Right on Justin. Get it man!

-- ~Tony

View theoldfart's profile


12450 posts in 3456 days

#9 posted 07-01-2013 09:13 PM

I’tll be solid, thats for sure. Maybe an 8C with a fence and Popeye arms! The next three generations will be proud to own it.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 3490 days

#10 posted 07-01-2013 09:16 PM

Pretty sure that the ensuing bench will easily make it to the 22nd century.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Tugboater78's profile


2796 posts in 3197 days

#11 posted 07-01-2013 09:45 PM

@oldfart I have an 8c, no fence and some decent arms, they will be Popeye when I am done lol, I do have my work cut out for me. Right now I’m turning one of my 5s into a scrubber knock them down a bit.

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8574 posts in 2988 days

#12 posted 07-02-2013 02:00 AM

Yes, some major galoot points. Jointing those by hand I can see. Gotta say, thickness planing by hand….wow, that would be tough. Props if you getterdone brother.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3998 posts in 3257 days

#13 posted 07-02-2013 03:46 AM

@Tug—Great start indeed. Make sure that when you use your 8C, that you switch arms every now and then. I wouldn’t want you to look like a fiddler crab with a big claw and a small claw!

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 3869 days

#14 posted 07-02-2013 03:58 AM

Thats some sweet timber/lumber you have. Should make a great bench. Can’t wait to see
how everything progresses.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17220 posts in 3624 days

#15 posted 07-02-2013 04:01 AM

I do love the look of that benchwood. Wow, such tight grain… It’ll be a treat to pound away at projects on that benchtop. You’re doing the wood a great service, pulling it back from the brink for such an important task. Good on ya, and good luck! We’ll all be watching!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

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