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Normally I don’t like to begin a story with a question (or an adverb), but: What Was I Drinking? When the Northeastern Woodworkers Association came calling I agreed to bring my handmade Roubo workbench (the one featured on the cover of the August 2010 issue) to its annual Showcase in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
This year the Showcase is March 26-27, and it is one of my favorite woodworking shows, both as an attendee and as a presenter. The show is one-third education, one-third furniture gallery and one-third selling floor, with high-quality vendors.
This year I’ll be demonstrating hand-tool techniques (surprise) plus discussing the workbench, where it will be on display in a special exhibit of benches at the show. So somehow I have to muscle this 300-pound bench into an as-yet-undetermined vehicle and trek 700 miles.
Chris is a contributing editor to Popular Woodworking Magazine and the publisher at Lost Art Press.
If you decide to take the NY Thruway through Syracuse, rather than coming up I-88, and you think you need to take a break before proceeding on to Saratoga, feel free to come on over. Max London’s is newer tapas-style fare and excellent wood fired pizzas, a great but small draft beer list, and an inventive set of mixed drinks. I think in true redneck tradition the answer is to tie the thing on top of your vehicle with bungee cords and hope for the best. Christopher Schwarz has helped many of us solve some pretty frustrating problems over the years. Sign up for the ToolCrib newsletter and get great woodworking resources like this in your inbox! This morning I decided it was finally time to research and write our ultimate guide to workbench plans (a second in the series I started with free router table plans). Here are a couple of quick links with pics to Frank Pellow’s super sweet workbench on wheels.
The vast majority of the existing free workbench plans out there are for full size workbenches.
For those with no workshop space… and those who feel uncomfortable with others knowing about their woodworking habits… we proudly present the camouflaged workbenches! To me it always help to read about others who have gone before… these threads are from woodworkers who built their own benches and either asked questions or showed off their final product in their favorite forum. Here are the free workbench plan lists that I went through to find the best workbench plans.
However, readers have pestered me for years now for ideas on how to make their benches mobile.
I did this to Megan’s bench in about an hour today (that will teach her to leave the office to get a pedicure). The prevailing thought is that her applying a screwdriver to remove the casters is the best of all possible outcomes for Chris, if she doesn’t like having casters put on her bench. Is the prevailing thought here that Megan is unable to operate a screw driver and remove Chris’ improvement? Naw… Put a set on her office desk as well, and then make sure she spends a morning each week hunting for her desk and bench. Whenever we leave beginning woodworkers to work alone in the shop, it’s a fair bet that when we return to check up on them, they’re working on the floor. We’ve got at least five workbenches in our shop – not counting the three assembly tables – but the new people always seem to prefer the wide expanse of our concrete slab more than the benches. The real beauty of this bench (besides getting you off the floor) is that it can be completed using tools you likely already have in your shop. The easiest way to make clean mortises using your drill press is to first drill a series of overlapping holes.
In a nutshell, here’s how the bench goes together: The top is made from four pieces of Baltic birch plywood that are laminated together with a pine “skirt” glued around the edge. When we first went to the lumberyard, it seemed like a good idea to buy 4 x 4 posts for the legs. After picking through the mound of knotty 4 x 4s, we decided to instead make the legs by ripping a 2 x 8 and gluing up the legs to the thickness we needed. Crosscut and rip the parts you need for the base of the bench and the skirt that goes around the top.
You know, it’s not often I get to use an anvil in my woodworking projects, but it was the perfect thing for gluing the top. Now park everything in your shop that’s heavy but movable (motors, anvils, 5-gallon buckets of water) in the middle of the top.
The grain pattern of hard maple reminds me of the ink landscapes drawn by Chinese and Japanese artists beginning in A.D.
I spaced my runners so that the front door is flush to the front edge of the cabinet stiles. You might have noticed from the photo that I made the grain direction of the drawers run vertically instead of horizontally. For many of today’s woodworkers setting up a shop means buying a bunch of often expensive machines and power tools, figuring out how to plug everything in, making sure you have enough outlets and electricity, and all this before you even begin to think about dust control and noise issues. Even apart from the health and safety issues, and ignoring the expense, there is still a learning curve involved in becoming familiar with table saws, jointers, planers, router tables, and a variety of other powertools, stationary or otherwise. There is an alternative — much less expensive, simpler, safer, healthier, and for many, even more rewarding. The secret is to start with woodworking hand tools by setting up a shop that relies exclusively on relatively inexpensive items. Graham Blackburn is a noted woodworking author, videographer and lecturer, who has written more than a dozen books on woodworking, starred in a 16-DVD woodworking series and contributed to or edited several woodworking magazines.
Every now and then I get a question from a reader about the tool rack that hangs in the window of our shop behind my workbench.
There is an upright piece at both ends and in the middle of the horizontal pieces.  I made the rack, then stood it up in the window opening, and held it in place with a couple screws. Here’s a closer look at how the tools fit in, and how the chisel shelf attaches to the uprights. Tried to use hand tools throughout, and adjusted on the fly for discrepancies of structural lumber. In the last photo, behind the rabbet plane and in front of the Glen-Drake hammer is a 35mm film container. Jameel documented the construction of his bench with photos, text, drawings and even some movies on his blog. When it comes to tables, knowledge of basic woodworking joints is key to preventing wear and tear. Bob’s detail of the mitered tenon for mortise and tenon furniture (left) and use of a wider leg for the same joint (right).

The other big takeaway from this project plan, in my opinion, is the discussion of wood movement. So, in summary, we have a few well-curated freebies on the download page – from woodworking ideas to wood furniture design – and we are adding more every few weeks. I’m pretty sure that nothing (including varnish) remains 100% forever, but I could be wrong. Tags: diy - popular woodworking plans, popular mechanics woodworking plans, popular woodworking free plansBy furnitureplans in Uncategorized on March 7, 2015.
Popular Woodworking cartridge clip carpentry advice woodworking plans This Shaker side table design is gratis Woodworking indium United States of America 2014 NEW Official store of Popular Woodworking. FInd the perfect bench plan to better your carpentry and transmute and nowadays angstrom contributing popular woodworking plans editor to Popular Woodworking cartridge holder along with all Here you’ll receive bench plans and. And if you can’t attend, you can hear me discuss the workbench on the DVD “Build an 18th-century Workbench,” available now in our store. Between myself the the rest of us trouble makers, please let me know if we can be of any help moving the bench.
Phila Fusion or Sushi Thai on Phila (same owner, Phila is upscale) are the best in the area for sushi and thai.
Davidson Bros has very good beer, brewed on site, and The Chocolate Mill should really be in Napa.
It’s only a 7 hr drive from here, but knee surgery and 2 kids make that a pretty insurmountable distance. How cool to check my inbox and find a note from Frank Pellow to let me know that he’d completed his workbench! I went out to all the free workbench plan sites, gathered their links by hand and then reorganized them with the woodworker in mind.
They can be complex, in the way of your feet and take some fiddling to engage and disengage. Most of these people work in a garage workshop where they need to have everything on wheels so it can be pushed aside for the spouse’s car.
In less than 30 seconds I put the bench up on its wheels and then down again onto the floor. I agree with Michael about spring hinges to retract the casters or a small spring middle of the caster board to the strecher.
If you’re low on clamps, you can use 5-gallon buckets of water (they are quite heavy) in the middle, the four cauls discussed in the article and C-clamps along the edges. And I’ve been striving to make each one more versatile, rock solid, inexpensive and quick to build than the last.
If you go all the way with the finger joints, your best bet is to lay out and cut the joint on one member and then use that joint to lay out your cut lines on its mate.
And that 24 hours includes everything, too, including the two hours we spent picking out the wood and sawing it to rough length on a dolly in the parking lot of Home Depot. For this project, your must-have tools include a table saw, a drill press, a corded drill and some basic hand tools. Then go back and clean up the waste between these holes several times until the bit can slide left to right in the mortise without stopping.
On the bench’s pine base, the end rails are joined to the legs using pegged mortise-and-tenon joints.
But when we got there (and later called around to other lumberyards in the city) we discovered that the only 4 x 4s available in yellow pine were #2 common, which has more knots than the #1 pine (also sold as “prime” or “top choice” in some yards). Squirt a sizable amount onto one piece of plywood and spread the adhesive until you’ve got a thin and even film. Clamp four or so cauls (a clamping aid) across the width of the top to put even more pressure in the middle.
The traditional Japanese household would store clothing, valuables and household items in its tansu. This is OK for such small drawers, and I did this because each bank of drawers now reminds me of one of those Japanese landscape paintings.
All this can seem overwhelming for the beginner, and while ultimately the rewards of woodworking are typically well worth the effort, it can be a lot to deal with in one gulp. For hundreds of years there were no power tools, and yet the craft produced amazing woodwork, and more importantly for the hobbyist, an enormous amount of satisfaction and pleasure. As you progress you may well have the urge and opportunity to add in some basic power tools to make certain jobs such as stock preparation easier — which, incidentally, is what power tools were invented for — but in the meantime you will have learned a lot of skills and techniques that cannot be easily duplicated with power tools alone (try making a cabriole leg on a router table or a Bombay chest on a jointer — it can be done but only with a complicated array of extra jigs and fixtures, which seems to defeat the purpose of being efficient). He’s also a champion tango dancer and earlier in his career studied music at Julliard and played saxophone with Van Morrison and others. The rack in question was originally made in May 2007 for an article in Issue 8 of Woodworking Magazine. I could have made it in place, but this made construction a bit easier, and if we ever move I can take it with me.
The shelf works a lot better for smaller planes than it does for the bigger ones, and I’m considering some other arrangement for those.
Just finished one modeled on your photos – spruce for structure, chisel shelf cut from 2 x 4 and pine shelf supported by brackets built from the spruce. Sacrifice of about a foot and a half of 2 x 4 practice sawing the deep dado for the shelf – victory was two brackets that fit the shelf as they came from the saw. The toilet bowl ring is made of beeswax, and I transfer a glob every now and then to the film container for lubricating screws. My plane shelf is wide enough to accommodate up to my #6 across the shelf from front to rear. Jameel took the basic Roubo form and added a sliding leg vise, something Roubo also did in a later volume.
All in all, it’s a great read and a great resource for anyone seeking to build a fine bench. Chris should get more credit for resurrecting the Roubo design, not to mention his great promotion of good hand techniques in general. If not, be sure to check it out and download a few more, especially the latest one on Shaker style furniture that is packed with general information on end table plans, coffee table plans, dining table plans and an overall table plan template.
That means it will withstand the style test over many years, no matter what other furniture you acquire or make. I always find that these abstract views make a lot more sense after I have built something that includes the technique in question. Wood movement always matters, but especially when dealing with a wide piece of stock or edge-joined surface.
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I was either thinking upstate NY or Cancun, but honestly, it’s a little bit chilly in Cancun this time of year.
With any luck (state police being asleep at their radar-guns), I’ll get there in time for your tool chest spiel. Woodworkers often look at the workbench as an essential project, a core project that both teaches and creates a highly useful product. I wrote about Frank originally in The Story of a “Forum Assisted” Woodworking Shop: Frank Pellow’s Shop Build Journal. When I started woodworking I had my grandfather’s fully outfitted bench, but my first few projects were built on the floor of our back porch, my assemblies propped up on a couple 4 x 4s.
If you have a jointer and planer, the project will go faster because you can easily dress your lumber to size and eliminate any bowing or warping.
The end assemblies attach to the front and back rails using an unglued mortise-and-tenon joint with big old bench bolts – it’s quite similar to a bed in construction. Now glue up and clamp the parts for the legs and get out your clamp collection and some buckets (yes, buckets) to glue up the top. We glued it up one layer at a time to keep things under control and to ensure we could eliminate as many gaps as possible. Place the plywood’s mating piece on top and drive in four nails near the edges to keep everything aligned as you clamp it down.
Each painting, with its jagged mountains and forbidding peaks, was supposed to represent a little story. Also, the interior stiles are merely applied to the doors after construction; they are not structural.
Then I nailed drawer runners to the carcase’s partitions and drawer runners with plywood build-up strips to the sides.
You will need to understand how to prepare and sharpen them, how to use them and the jigs and devices that go along with making their use easy, secure, and accurate.
When the article first came out I was chastised by a few members of the Safety Police for having a shelf below the pointy ends of the chisels.
You can’t leave anything much on it as it will get swept aside when the moving leg swishes by. And if you make it right, Shaker style furniture will of course withstand the other damages that come with time.
This section of the download can be useful not only in building tables, but also when you start to look at how to build a desk. These days Dan is a former online editor for Popular Woodworking, and is learning new skills every day.
Woodworking Videos from Popular Woodworking Magazine pool decks plans available for immediate woodworking video streaming. I learn a lot from the other presenters (this year Peter Follansbee will be there) and the food in the town is quite good. Little hard to find, but the best coffee in town, especially if you’re looking for espresso. But instead of swinging a big block of wood under the feet to raise the bench, I decided to put four 3″ casters there. To test my theory, Assistant Editor Kara Gebhart and I built this bench with a $180 budget and just 24 hours of working time in the shop. The viewer followed the people in the painting as they journeyed on a path through the painting. First cut all your pieces to size and iron on veneer edge tape to cover all the exposed plywood edges. Now screw the top to the carcase through cleats that are screwed to the sides and partition of the case. Chris Schwarz made a similar one first, so I stole his concept and added a few details of my own. Rather than add another tier of horizontal strips with wider spacing, I made a shelf supported by brackets. There is a decent amount of space in between, and with the sharp edges visible I avoid them when reaching to get something below.
What I have works well for three or four saws, but I don’t have space for more than that. Strategically placed, the long tail slides in first and then the front slides up and in allowing the plane to hang upside down along the length of the shelf.
But I do want to point you to a helpful blog post from Glen Huey for this particular Shaker table project. Are you new to woodworking and looking for FREE woodworking projects plans poker table plans racetrack tips ideas & more Look no further Popular woodwork Magazine has. I don’t see any significant possibility of a toe trap kicking the casters in plac as Chris does in the video. So when I decided to build a step tansu, the obvious choice was maple, despite the fact that these chests were traditionally built from Japanese cypress, cedar or elm.
It’s a lot of information, but it can provide the foundation for an almost limitless array of techniques that will equip you to produce virtually anything. Note for example that the mitered-end variety is not for creating a mitered joint within the joint, but rather to relieve a little extra space within the leg.
A hand tool workshop is by no means an inferior substitute for the more typical power shop, but rather can be the foundation for much more sophisticated woodworking.
This worked beautifully for the chisels I was using then, but they are a little small for some the chisels I’ve been using lately. And for certain projects some tools can be packed away, while others can be brought out and kept handy.
Glen has created a mortise and tenon jig that is cheap, works well and speeds the building process. They let in a lot of natural light, and let us keep an eye on the weather and events of interest in our parking lot and the senior citizens’ home next door. Our windows are tinted, so you can’t see in from outside, but dust does accumulate on the tools. Time for a second or third chisel rack somewhere, and if I make it too big I can justify buying more chisels.
It’s nice to have tools visible and available, and with a rack such as this the tools can be safely stored without being hidden away.

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