Reply by JayT

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Posted on Beginner wanting to build a bench, also some tool questions.

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6271 posts in 2690 days

#1 posted 01-06-2014 08:42 PM

Building a bench without a bench to build on. Paul Sellers covers exactly that in his Workbench blog series. Whether you build that exact bench or not, he demonstrates a lot of good techniques and ideas to make a very good bench on a budget with hand tools. Budget in for a decent vise or two while you are at it.

My list of tools to start out would be similar to reedwoods. Stretch your dollars as best as possible by buying good quality tools that won’t need to be replaced, not cheap tools that will need upgraded soon. Start with some basics and then save the rest to add tools as you need them for projects and your skill grows.

Chisel Set—a 4pc Narex set gets really good reviews for the money
Planes—if you are going to be doing all hand tool work, start with a smoother (#3, #4 or#4-1/2), jack (#5), jointer (#6 or #7) and a good block plane, such as a 9-1/2, 18 or 60-1/2. If you stay with mostly hand tools, you will want to add a router plane, such as a 71 or 71-1/2 to that very soon, as well as a spokeshave.
Sharpening equipment-oil stones, water stones, diamond plates or sandpaper will all work. Pick one system and go. Also invest in a honing guide—the Eclipse style ones are inexpensive and work just fine.
More clamps
Saws—a crosscut saw of some kind to start. You can do rips on the table saw, but having a crosscut to break down pieces would be handy.
Rasps—invest a little bit here and get a couple good, hand stitched rasps of different sizes, not the Nicholson’s from the BORG. A little rasping can do wonders for a project.
Scrapers—a couple of card scrapers and a burnisher
Oh, and get some more clamps.
Machinist square—a 4 inch model is a handy size. Combo squares are OK, but having one good fixed square is invaluable

After that, you will be able to make a lot of your own smaller tools. Marking knife, awl, marking gauge, mallets, and more are great small projects to get started with. Gives you a chance to practice and use your new tools, plus working with a tool you have made yourself is very rewarding.

Edit: You mentioned Chris Schwarz. Make sure to check out his bench books, as well as “Coarse, Medium, Fine” for some help with plane selection and usage.

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

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