Traditional Work Bench

IMG_7496This baby is made to work.  Made entirely of oak, using traditional hand tools, this workbench/chopping block will stand up to abuse.  Fairly simple to make yet complex on the range of uses it is another handy tool to add to the workshop.

Starting with a decent size log of local white oak, we split the cylinder down the middle, then hand planed the cut surface mostly level and smooth…again, it is a working piece so “mostly” means just that.  Flipping the piece over laying flat on the floor, we hand augered the 2” diameter holes for the four legs at a slight angle diagonally in order to splay the legs and provide more stability.

The legs were split from a single piece of oak, then worked down on the shave horse using the traditional draw knife then rough finished with a spokeshave.  The bottom edges of the legs were trimmed down with a draw knife to “fit” the floor a little better and absorb slight inconsistencies in the flooring surface.  Once the legs were complete, we used the wooden mallet to drive them into their sockets in the bench.  The legs should fit tightly into the augered holes in the bottom of the bench.  Bear in mind this is green wood and will shrink slightly as it dries so the tighter it fits now the better as it dries.

Once the four legs were hammered in, we flipped the bench upright to drill the holes for the holdfasts.  Using a brace and three-quarter inch bit four holes were drilled entirely through the bench.  This allows the holdfasts to work properly and can be used to accommodate benchstops.  Finally, coat the working surface and crosscut ends of the bench with beeswax or similar substance to slow moisture evaporation; the slower moisture escapes the less checking you will have.

The bench is now complete and ready to get to work.  You’ll find yourself using this thing more often than not.  Just in the last week I have used mine for woodworking, a chopping block, workbench, seat to change brake pads on our car, seat to work on lawn tractor, tool photography (provides a good background), potting bench, and more.  Do yourself a favor, invest the hour or so it takes to make this thing, you will not regret it.

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