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Friday, April 16, 2010

Scott's 21st Century Bench

I got a few emails from Scott Cardais from North Carolina, who recently endeavored to build his own 21st Century workbench.  For those that have been following my blog from the beginning, that was the first video project I did on this site (you can access the full set of episodes here).  I think he did a fantastic job, so I wanted to share the results.  Here is what Scott had to say.


Three pictures of the bench before applying any kind of finish are attached. I think it turned out pretty good. Better than I expected!

I decided not to build the drawers (trays) per the plans; at least not until I've used the bench for a few projects. At this point, the space between the two glue ups is filled with 2 plywood boards with sides so they can be turned over to create a solid top. I'll use it this way for a while to see if I want to make any changes.  For the same reason, I haven't finished drilling all the dog holes. I wanted to use the bench for a few projects before drilling too many, perhaps unnecessary, holes.

The bench is 30" wide by 89" long by 34" tall and it's very, very solid.  (Note: the pipe clamps on the lower stretchers are just being stored there! They're not holding it together!)

The joinery was done with a combination of power and hand tools.

I used a dado set for the half laps and a contractor's saw to rips the boards to width and an old, circa 1950, 6" Rockwell joiner to square the edges and faces of the top. What a pain! Most of the cross cuts were done on my 12" sliding miter saw. After hollowing out most of the mortises on the drill press, I finished with chisels and files. I cut the tenons and dovetails by hand using a japanese saw.

For what it's worth, I think it took me about 12 days to build. It's made of solid ash from 8/4 stock which cost $2.70 bd ft locally (Asheville, NC). I think the total cost of the wood and supplies was about $700 (including $250 for the twin screw vise). The lamination of the two tops was probably the hardest part because I struggle with milling stock perfectly square; even with a power jointer and because they're heavy. It was difficult to maneuver them into the thickness planer and miter saw.

The joinery wasn't too difficult. I was surprised. Drilling the holes for the twin screw vise was a pain because I've got a small, table top Delta drill press with too little power and too little travel. Just drilling the darn 1 1/2" holes for the twin screws probably took 1 1/2 hours.

All kidding aside, your video blog posting is what inspired me to try this so Thank You.

Best regards,



Daniel said...

I too am interested in building a 21st Century work bench. I have dabled in minor construction projects for most of my life. I have always wanted to build beautiful furniture.

You guys have inspired me to start gathering the tools I need to build this bench. I figure the bench will be the true beginning of my woodworking. Hopefully it goes better than I am thinking it will.

The tools I have are fairly low grade and I do not yet have a jointer, planar, or bandsaw. Any ideas as to how I can best accomplish this project?


Rob Bois said...

Daniel, glad to hear you are going down the workbench path. It can single handedly revolutionize the capabilities of your shop. The 21st Century bench should not require a bandsaw, but does assume a jointer and planer. The challenge is you really need well jointed boards to glue up for the top, and without a bench to hand plane on this can be tricky. Best bet is to find someone that will let you face joint the boards. Otherwise gluing up the bench top could be very difficult. The planer is also a big time saver on this project, but if you do have a good jointer plane (which I'd recommend for flattening the top anyway) that could be your solution there. But you do want to ensure a very nice flat top when you're done.