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The Workbench
A Complete Guide to Creating The Perfect Workbench

By Lon Schleining

Complete Guide to Classic, Modern and Specialty Workbenches

In this contemporary look at the world of workbenches, Lon Schleining takes us on a guided tour of a wide variety of classic, modern, and specialty benches and offers hundreds of options for choosing or building that perfect bench and its accessories.

This is a fresh look at the classic subject with a focus on helping readers find the right bench and accessories for their needs. The object is to guide the reader through making critical choices, including whether to buy it or build it.

Even long-time woodworkers dream of the perfect bench and the time to build it, and for them, the real enjoyment is in the planning. With nearly 300 photos and drawings, this book provides in-depth information along with the inspiration to fulfill workshop dreams.

About the Author:

Lon Schleining, a stairbuilder, woodworking instructor, and licensed contractor, is a frequent contributor to Fine Woodworking magazine. He lives in Long Beach, California.

Introduction:

In its simplest form, a woodworking bench is nothing more than some sort of raised platform so you can work standing up. Even a piece of plywood on sawhorses would fit this definition. Such a bench would certainly be inexpensive, fast to build, and very portable. If it got rained on, or stained by spilled coffee, no big deal. Though less than ideal, this may be all the bench some woodworkers would really need. But what they really yearn for is another matter entirely.

Woodworkers notions of the ultimate bench are as diverse as their activities. Whats ideal for one woodworker is wholly impractical for another. A great bench for a furniture maker may not work for a carver and vise versa. A boatbuilders bench is utterly different from a violin makers, yet they all work wood and they all need benches.

Much as woodworking pundits might like to say their particular workbench is the only proper configuration, many of the choices in design are simply a combination of familiarity and personal taste. If there is a common thread, its a tendency to think the bench you learned on is the best bench. A shoulder vise, for example, is a device some woodworkers simply could not get along without. For others, its a somewhat fragile appendage of little use in a modern wood shop. Such is the subjective and very personal nature of the workbench.

The classic workbench originated centuries before the invention of the equipment modern woodworkers take for granted. These days, rare indeed is the woodworker who does not use an electric drill or surface planer. A perfectly suitable bench for the type of work people did 300 or 400 years ago may not be the best one today.

Some things havent changed. Virtually every woodworking tool, power or otherwise, requires two hands to operate safely. Holding the board securely is, if anything, more important with power tools than with hand tools since the consequences of a slip could be more serious. Woodworkers who think a traditional bench has no place in a modern shop need only consider how difficult it is to hold a furniture part with one hand while belt-sanding it with the other two.

Woodworkers of today do work differently. We often work with large panels and sheet goods and so need to clamp our work somewhat differently. We have access to hardware that can speed construction. Modern materials like Melamine and laminates are better than solid wood for some applications. Vacuum pressing makes building large torsion boxes easier. Throughout this book, I have tried to point out how modern methods and materials can be applied to workbench design and construction.

For some people, building their own bench is almost a woodworking rite of passage. Their bench is an expression of the pride they take in their work, an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and to show off a little. These folks probably envision a solid-maple behemoth with intricately constructed vises, a gleaming finish, lots of accessories and cool hardware. Sure it cost a bundle and took months to build. Yes, there may be just a bit of reluctance about actually using the bench for fear of getting that first scratch or dent. But for those bench builders, the satisfaction of having built it is justification enough.

Then there are the folks who sit down and do the math. They figure the cost of lumber and hardware, then estimate (or should I say underestimate) the time it will take to build the bench. They compare their figures with the cost of having a finished bench shipped to their doorstep. It slowly sinks in that its entirely irrational to build a bench from scratch. For these practical souls, the only logical choice is to buy the finished bench outright.

The bottom line is that however you get your hands on it, you need a good bench to do your work safely. You need some vises and hold-downs for joinery, fitting pieces, and finish work like installing hinges. At the very least you need a true flat surface for gluing. This book is intended as a guide for asking the right questions and then making the right decisions about what you really need and what you really want. A workbench is a very personal choice. Your opinions and personal preferences are the most important. Take your time pondering the questions. And remember; only you can provide the answers.

Table of Contents:

Introduction

1. The Perfect Bench

What Kind of Woodworking Do You Do?
Locating the Bench
Bench Size
Weight
Height
A Comfortable Bench Area
Designing Your Bench

2. Workbench Tops
Benchtop Dimensions
Top Configuration
Tool Trays
Materials for Tops
Keeping the Top Flat
Flattening a Benchtop
Fastening the Top to the Base
Finishing the Top

3. A Solid Foundation
Base Configuration
Frame Bases
Base Joinery Options
Strengthening the Base
Legs Made from Metal
Enclosed Bases
Leveling the Bench
Electrical Power

4. Getting a Grip
Locating Vises
Types of Vises
Screw Mechanisms
Manufactured Vises
Shop-Built Vises

5. Holding Your Work
Bench Dogs
Stops
Holdfasts and Hold-Downs
Board Jacks
Bench Hooks
Fixtures and Auxillary Tables

6. Bench in a Box
Bench Components
Manufactured Benches of the Past
Contemporary Bench Makers

7. No-Frills Benches
Getting Down to Basics
Sam Maloofs Bench
Building the Bench
Niall Barretts Bench
Building the Bench

8. Tradition Meets the Twenty-First Century
English-Style Workbenches
Building the Bench
European Traditions
Building the Bench
The Best of Old and New
Building the Bench
Shaker with a Twist

9. Innovative Workbenches
A Different Kind of Benchtop
The Torsion Box
Storing Large Worktables
Thinking Outside the Box

10. Benches for Special Tasks
Assembly and Finishing
Portable Workbenches
Benches for Working on Irregular Parts
Other Woodworking Specialties
Dedicated Task Benches

Resources

Index

 

Hard-cover, 9-3/16 x 10-7/8 in., 208 pages with color photos and drawings

ISBN 978-1-56158-594-6

The Workbench - Hard-cover - Taunton Press - RC-T070720 - ISBN: 1561585947 - ISBN-13: 9781561585946
Hardcover, 202 pages

The Workbench - Hard-cover
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The Workbench - Hard-cover - Taunton Press - RC-T070720 - ISBN: 1561585947 - ISBN-13: 9781561585946
Hardcover, 202 pages

The Workbench - Hard-cover
Qty:

RC-T070720
$34.95
$23.31
Free Super Saver Shipping

Usually ships in 24 hours

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