Category Archives: hand tools

LET THE MADCAP-ERY……BEGIN!!!!

As promised, here is a link to the first “Official” published work by The Madcap Woodwright.

blog.woodworkingtooltips.com/2017/01/roubo-bench-build-twist/


There are actually two other bits published in Highland Woodworking’s blog.(Part one of the Roubo build being one of them. It is linked in the intro to this piece. Don’t miss it)

 I am actually enjoying two bylines via these brave souls.

 I have a spot in their blog, as well as a column in their online magazine WoodworkingToolTips.com.

 I wish to extend my profound gratitude to them for providing me with a literary outlet for my musings, as well as all the editorial mentoring and encouragement a budding writer could ever ask for.

Thanks especially go out to Kelley Bagby for rolling the dice on an untested voice.

Enjoy!

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“He Who Hesitates……”

……procrastinates indefinitely.

 

It’s not that I am lazy, It’s more a case of having a lot of ideas and not knowing how to put order to them.

Since the first of the year I have been off to a good start with my level of productivity. I have discovered that I am quite adept at disgorging myself of various literary ideas now that I have cajoled an actual periodical to publish some of my ramblings. No shortage of copy for Highland Woodworking’s online magazine of blog.

Nor have I been lacking in the work to do in The Tiny Shop. Since the phonograph refinish, I have had a string of small furniture repairs and/or refinishes. Throw in another workbench build, and you are up to date with my current state of workshop projects.

Aside from a few model train display cases and the long promised step stool for my dear wife, I am starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Now what?

Well, that is where things are getting a little sticky. I really need to get some furniture built as prototypes and proof of concepts. I have been wanting to get some things built not only as a means of developing some design ideas, my take on some more traditional styles, but also as fodder for my photographer son to take some beauty shots of for a hypothetical website for The Tiny Shop.

Since I have yet to actually put pencil to paper in many months, I am relegated to my minds eye for developing ideas. This poses a bit of a problem, you see I tend to bounce from idea to idea and end up with a collection of fractured ideas bouncing around in my melon.

Best to choose one, and get on with it.

My intention is to build one of three ideas I have right now. The first is the glove table I had mentioned in a previous post. Next idea would be a blanket chest for my dear wife.

Last, and most fear inducing is the design and construction of a wall unit for our basement family room. Our house is on the verge of being too large for us, but with my 18 year old son having moved in with us this summer, the wall unit may be a good way of making the largely unused family room a little more warm and inviting for him during his stay with us, and an investment in our future use of the space once he moves on to his inevitable world domination tour sometime in the future.

Decisions, decisions.

yinyang

 

A Roubo is born.

I am putting this one picture up here because I just can’t resist.

However, I have committed to providing the actual “bench build” as a series of articles for Highland Woodworking for use in their online magazine. (Highlandwoodworking.com)

So, as each installment is to be published, I will be sure to leave word here so you, my dear readers, can enjoy the Chronicles of the Madcap Roubo Build.

In the meantime……Behold, the beauty of Roubo!!!

It Really Is Something Of A Sickness…

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Above is the first picture of the as yet, undecided, workbench.

I continue to waver back and forth between calling this a Holtzapffel, and building a twin screw front vise for it, and calling it a Roubo, and building a leg vise for it….lol.

I’m pitiful. It is something of a characteristic feature of my particular brand of bench building insanity, that I am just not content unless I have wrung my hands and paced the floor late at night churning over the various options available for a particular build.

All this mental energy over what….the choice between two vises and if I call the thing by a long dead German guys name, or a long dead Frenchman? Sheesh….I need to take a bit of my own advice and just enjoy the moment.

I only have a little more to do yet on this unnamed bench. Drill dog holes for my hold-fasts and possibly a Veritas fixture or two. I am thinking that I may be running a row of dog holes along the front edge for use with this….

veritassurfacevise

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It is a Veritas Surface vise. I can use it in conjunction with dog holes in the bench top as a stand in for the end vise I have elected to delete in this build since the bench is going to double as an out feed table for my table saw.

I’ll just need to see how things go. For now, I am basking in the glow of having not hosed this project up. It’s been a bit of an adventure.

In related news, There is a series in the works for my column over at Highland Woodworking. (I love saying that.)

If you have interest in seeing what I did to get to this place, stay tuned as I think I will be writing it up here in the next few weeks.

 

 

 

Some Things Just Never Change

lienielsenbench

The last post I made here was a bit of a departure from my normal obsessing over the various design options available to me when I am in the mood to dive into building another work bench.

Above you can see what has me paused for reconsideration of design. That is the Lie Nielsen large workbench. That thing retails at a cool $3500, + shipping on a parcel that has to weigh in at roughly 400 pounds. Not cheap.

Taking the Lie NielsenĀ  vises out of the equation for the moment, this bench exhibits some really attractive qualities in a blend of Scandinavian and Roubo styles.

For example, the legs are flush with the top just like in a Roubo bench. This allows for more clamping surface and also a place to use hold fasts for clamping also. (see hold fast holes in right side leg.)

While the base is of a trestle construction, a feature shared by some Roubo benches and traditional Continental/Germanic/Scandinavian work benches. This one deletes the feet normally found at the bottom of the legs of most traditional benches.

For what I have in mind, this is an interesting hybrid. Since I am going to be devoting more time to using hand tools for my work in The Tiny Shop, I will need a very stout bench to withstand the forces that operations like hand planing and the shock of blows delivered during joint fitting deliver . However, the bench will also be doing double duty as an outfeed table for my table saw. This is actually fortunate because my preferred bench height for hand tool work is almost exactly the same as my table saw height. (34″ from the floor)

Initially, I had planned to laminate 7 4″x6″x8′ together face to face to create a nearly 6″ thick top. However, given that the overall length will be less than 8 feet, this will not only be overkill, but might just …well…look funny. I also considered laminating 2″x6″ material together just like I had for my main bench, but frankly I am less than enthusiastic about this also. It’s a lot of work to mill, and glue 14 separate boards together without the help of a professional glue rack and deep-throated clamps to accept the oversized boards. Not to mention the lack of a wide belt sander to help me flatten the top after glue up.

That leaves me with a couple of choices should I decide against either of the two bench top fabrication choices above.

I could edge glue 4 4x6x8 timbers. This would get me a top that was just shy of 4″ thick and 24 inches across by 72-ish inches long. the timbers are thick enough to withstand multiple flattening operations with hand planes while the wood settles down and acclimate to The Tiny Shop.

Or….

I could just laminate 6 4x4x8 timbers to approximate the same thing, but with several more glue joints. In thinking it over, I think that having a 4″ thick top has several advantages over the radical thickness I considered before. Chief among them is that it will make chopping out the through mortises a little easier.

Still I must confess to being drawn to the heft of multiple thick timbers laminated together. I am just having a hard time envisioning what that will translate into visually on a bench that is less than 8 feet long and at a 34″ working height. The proposed length would be somewhere between 6 and 7 feet.

I suppose I will end up going with my gut.

Right now, the gut consensus is to go ahead and build the monster bench top, and slap it on top of some sort of hybrid Scandinavian/Franco trestle base a’la Lie Nielsen.

This also brings me back to the original thinking behind building a Roubo at all. I would kind of like to have “one of each” so to speak. (Scandinavian and Roubo) So why the hemming and hawing? I guess it’s just what I do once the itch to build ANOTHER workbench gets a hold of me.

TRES BON…..For now.

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In a radical departure from my norm, I think I have settled on the Roubo style bench as a proposed replacement for my outfeed table/assembly table.

I realize that I have forgone the traditional hand wringing and over examination of pros and cons, but I think this may be a natural choice.

One of the main reasons…as always…is the economy of this design narrowly beats out its Scandinavian counterpart. All told, I should be able to procure the required timber for just under $175.

Next, the dimensions. While not quite as short as I had initially envisioned, the height is just about perfect for hand planing work and also for it’s use as an outfeed table for the tablesaw. The length will still provide some extra breathing space between this bench and my main workbench. The nice thing about this will be that I will still have storage for both my planer and my sliding mitre saw, as well as a bit of space at the end to tuck a shopvac, or stool, or what have you under the overhang.

An added bonus will be the joy of having built both a Scandinavian design and a Roubo, thus soothing my craven desire to “have it all.”

I also like the idea of having two highly versatile work spaces. The configuration of the different vises will provide added optional work holding capability. This will become increasingly important as I continue to focus on more handwork using hand saws and planes.

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I think a simplified front vise will suffice. I can’t see spending the premium money for the Benchcrafted vise hardware swhown above in these pictures. However, I think I may actually attempt the Wagon Vise that is shown above. I have drawings and plans for a shop made version of the Benchcrafted equipment pictured. I like the Wagon Vise idea because the vise is captured within the bench itself, and therefore does not intrude in the already tight space I am trying to maximize. Were I to build a Scandinavian bench again, I would either have to contend with whacking my knees / hips on the vise handle, or delete it all together.

On balance I feel this is the best of all options since it seems I am bent on building yet ANOTHER workbench. I am excited to get moving on this project. It will be something of a technical challenge. The vise engineering alone takes me out of my comfort zone. The top lamination may make up for that, as I plan to laminate 7-4″x6″x80″ timbers together to get a top that is close to 28″ wide. The base will likewise be 4″x6″ timbers with 4″x4″ timbers as the stretchers between the legs. The legs will be through mortised into the top. Each hand chopped nortise will be nearly 6″deep. Each hand cut tenon will also be nearly 6″.

This project is a bit ambitious for just an outfeed table, to be sure. In the scheme of things though, it meets several needs especially as they relate to work holding for hand work with planes, chisels, and hand saws.

Wheeewww….it’s going to be a fun ride. loving the adventure. I just need to get cracking on a couple of small lingering projects to clear the decks for this bad boy…..God I love this stuff.

Deja Vu…All Over Again….

As The Tiny Shop begins to see action these days, I find myself wishing for just a bit more floor space for assembly. So far, I have been able to get the job done using a combination of what floor space I do have available, and using the 8’+ long out feed table of my table saw.

While this has been serviceable so far, I see that having just a bit more space on the end of the out feed table would be nice. Specifically for building casework larger than four feet tall.

As an admitted cool junkie and workbench ponderer, you can guess the places that my mind takes me. None of these places, I assure you, include simply cutting the well built, fully functional out feed table I currently have to provide the desired space. Parish the thought.

No, I am of course considering the construction of yet another, slightly smaller workbench.

The question I am chewing in right now is, if I build another bench, what design should I make?

I have a full sized Scandinavian / hybrid style right now. It is sturdy, and is the jewel of The Tiny Shop.

Here she is just prior to the vise being fitted.

I like the design, and it works fine for my needs. Perhaps making a version shorter in length and height (to double as another out feed table again.)?

Or….

Do I venture into Franco history and do what all the other kids are doing, and build a Round like this….

I have to admit, the allure of having one of each design really does speak to my inner OCD. I like the Features that a Round would provide me.

Super stout construction, easy construction, and the six foot length I am considering lends itself well to this design.

On the other hand, I have built several of the traditional, more commonly built bench designs, and would be just as happy with it.

I dunno, I need to think a bit more about this.