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Thread: "First" workbench: Sjobergs or build

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
    Posts
    165
    I agree with everything posted so far but don't need to rehash it. I don't see a post from Ken Hatch in here yet, he is very knowledgeable.

    What wood working do you want to do? If you want to make turned ink pens out of fancy wood it might make sense to just buy a ready made bench and go - but if you start talking to pen makers you might find they are building their own benches too. I like making household sized stuff like book cases and blanket chests and comfortable chairs. Pausing those builds to make my own workbench let me develop as a woodworker so my next piece of furniture came out better. I am also in the early stages of making a timber framed tool shed. Making building sized mortises and tenons for my workbench build were part of making that spark.

    Go to you local library and see what workbench books they have in the woodworking sections. Sit in a chair and thumb through them. Anything you want bad enough to get a library card? Anything you want bad enough to whip out your phone and go to amazon?

    On my first work bench my sawhorses shifted under my laminated 2x4 before the glue set, so i ended up with a LOT of planing to do. Make sure you are gluing on a stable, flat platform. Doesn't have to be level, but it has to be flat. Also my first bench is using a $20 vise from a home store. My next (second) bench I am going to a leg vise and I am willing to spend what I have to spend for top of the line.

    Drilling dog holes is fun, that is absolutely not a selling point on a premade bench. You could spend a few bucks on a mirror with a hole in it, a peg hole drillign mirror, or you could turn some S4S from a home store into three S6S pieces and make a drilling guide out of wood with a few finish nails.

    One other thing you could do is search here, titles only, on the term "work bench" and after you read or just look at the pictures in all those search again on "workbench."

    Recognizing this won't be your last bench is pretty insightful.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Greeley, CO
    Posts
    115
    I'm glad I bought one 20 years ago. I didn't have the skills and it wood have bogged me down and demoralized me. I wanted to build new hand tool skills such as dovetail joints and planing planks flat. Having a work bench allowed me to do that.

    Buy a nice bench and make a Moxon vise. Regarding jacking the height, I didn't find it to be difficult. I lag bolted 3 1/2" of fence post to the feet and lagged it to the floor.

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
    Posts
    19,993
    Blog Entries
    1
    How will the bench by used: if you are a hand tool woodworker and plan on using planes, particularly if you are planning on going from "rough to ready" with planes, you will want a substantial bench that will stay put under the forces of planing.
    These were done on my Sjoberg:

    Scrubbing the High Side.jpg

    That's A Lot of Work.jpg

    Both of these are 2' longer than the bench.

    Does anyone have any recommendations on vises if I were to build my own bench?
    Lee Valley has some vise screws that are inexpensive > Shoulder vise screw < & > Tail vise screw <

    My choice was two tail vise screws. Originally my plan was to build a face vise and a tail vise using these and a few items from other sources to make vises like what are on my current Sjoberg bench. Since a few other things have come my way and my plan may be to have two separate tail vises or a twin screw vise. My current design plan is to have a split top with a tool tray down the middle. The plan is to have two face vises. This way one side can be right handed and the other side can be left handed. Being somewhat ambidextrous, this works for me. It may not be the right choice for other folks.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Exeter, CA
    Posts
    382
    I built mine, rock solid. Full through tenons on 6x6 legs. Glued up the top myself (2.5" thick) , ran sections of glued up hardwood through my little bench top planer then glued all the sections together. Found some good woodworking vises on sale, used those. All pulled together with 4 threaded rods the length of the bench dadoed into the stringers. Was a beginning woodworker when I built it, still a great very heavy bench. Only real thing I did wrong was trying to surface the top with a belt sander. Building a bench is woodworking at its most fun, to me at least. I vote for building and learning at the same time. Randy

  5. #20
    I vote for building your own. I'm nearing the end of my own build, and it has been a ton of fun. I'm not very talented either, so it has been a low key way to work on my skills, and hopefully end up with something I can have for a long time. I used 2x4's for wood and I went with a basic front vise (albeit with a plan to flush mount it with the face of the vise overlapping the front leg) to start, and figure if I find a need I can always add a tail vise down the road.

    The hardest part for me was I had just moved, so I did not have a bench to build on. I bought a pair of Ridgid saw horses - could not have done the build without them.

    Bench_Top.jpg

    Bench_Base.jpg

    Mind you - I still need to mount the top to the base - so there's still time for disaster to strike, but I'm feeling confident at the moment.

    Biggest down side to a home build is probably the time - I'm in for 50 hours so far, probably 60-70 by the time I'm done.

    Garth

  6. #21
    Nice bench Garth!
    Welcome to the Creek. Glad you've joined us!
    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
    Posts
    19,993
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    1
    +1 on the nice looking bench and a welcome to the Creek.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Austin Texas
    Posts
    1,595
    Nice Garth and welcome. Food for thought Jason. Will readily admit the Sjobergs look good also and have enough "yes" votes to vet them. Your call, but don't worry, we will help you spend your money regardless of the path you choose.
    David

  9. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Winners View Post
    I agree with everything posted so far but don't need to rehash it. I don't see a post from Ken Hatch in here yet, he is very knowledgeable.

    ...

    Recognizing this won't be your last bench is pretty insightful.
    Thanks Scott,

    Yes it is, maybe I'm a slow learner but up until the last few years every bench build had something that drove me barking at the moon crazy. It takes a few builds to get 'em all worked out.

    Most first time builders both over think and over accessorize their bench. I've found most of the "must have" accessories just get in the way of working and add to the cost and time it takes to build. I will admit to liking a face vise and as nice as a wood screw vise is to use the Benchcrafted Classic screw with a crisscross is close to perfection. The Moravian style bench as built by Will Meyers is the best first bench or even last bench I've found for several reasons. It makes great use of wood, less is needed for the same stability and even when very light rock solid and it is a simple build. The joints are the easiest to make that will do the needed job and truth be told not all need to be perfect. In fact the main structural joint has to be loose.

    Anyway thanks for the compliment,

    ken

  10. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Michiana
    Posts
    1,402
    Build your own. It won't be your last. See below. The remains of my first bench is are the background. Basically a frame made with Borg pine and topped with 3/4 plywood. It held stuff off the floor. The bench in the foreground was made with salvaged lumber about 10 years ago. The underpinnings are 2x6 construction lumber glued up to make stout legs and stretchers. The top is made from two salvaged maple butcher block bench tops laminated together to make a sturdy 3 3/4' thick top. I put a maple apron all around. The large vise is Lee Valley and the one on the end is an old Wilton. One day I'll reverse the vise positions or go to a leg vice on the bench face. The large vise gets in the way sometimes.

    4103275307_f30a5080da_b.jpg
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  11. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by GARTH GREGOIRE View Post
    I...
    Bench_Top.jpg



    Garth
    Love your bike helmet.

  12. #27
    Jason: Check out the "Simple and Stout Workbench" article in the recent (like showed up yesterday) issue of FWW, 2020 Tools and Shops Issue, page 32. Might be the answer to your quandary.

  13. #28
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sioux City, IA
    Posts
    781
    Blog Entries
    3
    I have built three over the years and the one I enjoyed the most was a Poplar with a 2.5" top. Not smart to get rid of it. I've learned something from every build and this last one was the Chris Schwarz 2 day bench.

    now three two years old with a face and tail vise. It cost about $400 to build but I don't foresee another as it perfectly suits my purpose. Good thing too, because I'm not in the mood anymore to ever build another. If buy chance I ever needed another, I'd buy one.

  14. #29
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
    Posts
    165
    Quote Originally Posted by ken hatch View Post
    Thanks Scott,

    Yes it is, maybe I'm a slow learner but up until the last few years every bench build had something that drove me barking at the moon crazy. It takes a few builds to get 'em all worked out.

    Most first time builders both over think and over accessorize their bench. I've found most of the "must have" accessories just get in the way of working and add to the cost and time it takes to build. I will admit to liking a face vise and as nice as a wood screw vise is to use the Benchcrafted Classic screw with a crisscross is close to perfection. The Moravian style bench as built by Will Meyers is the best first bench or even last bench I've found for several reasons. It makes great use of wood, less is needed for the same stability and even when very light rock solid and it is a simple build. The joints are the easiest to make that will do the needed job and truth be told not all need to be perfect. In fact the main structural joint has to be loose.

    Anyway thanks for the compliment,

    ken
    Ken, you earned it. I am personally at my shop nervous about any knock down bench because my climate is so extreme and I am fooling with 4x4 and up most of the time. The MT joints on my bench joints are glued and pegged, and I glued the pegs. I have nothing negative to say about a knockdown Moravian bench because i have never used one. I know in my heart the bench you use and love is going to work good for a lot of folks.

    Right now my shop is 62 degrees with the boiler running and 25% RH. Outdoor temp is +4dF. If one of the kids were to move back home and put more pressure on the floor space in the garage I probably would cut up some of my eight year seasoned hard maple to make wedges and build a bench just like yours. And I would expect that your design could not be improved on in that situation.

    You are welcome.

  15. #30
    I'll take the opposite side of the popular argument. if you have the funds, just go buy the bench. It won't be your ideal bench, but you will have it and be able to work on it right away. If you build your first bench (and especially if you solicit opinions from people like us ) you will spend 3 months agonizing over the details, 3 months drawing plan after plan, and then 6 months to a year (or more) building it. And it still won't be your ideal bench.

    If you buy your non-ideal bench, you will get to start working on it right away and start learning right away what you don't like about it, so when you do build your ideal bench, you'll have a better idea of what you really want, rather than guesses and a thousand opinions from us internet folks. But, and this is the key but, you will actually get to do work on it, rather than spending the better part of a year or two thinking about your bench.

    As an alternative if you really want to build a bench (and hey, who in this forum doesn't) take a simple, easy, fast, and cheap plan and build it in a couple weekends, again for the same reasons above. Don't bother with whether you want a Scandinavian bench, Roubo, Nicholson (whatever that is), or any of the other names that get thrown around, you don't know yet what you really want from the bench, so go for something fast, easy, and proven. It probably doesn't matter which one, as long as you can beat on it and clamp stuff; that will get you started, and do most of what you need it to do.

    Myself, I of course didn't take any of this advice My first self-built bench was the FWW #4 Tage Frid bench, not something for a beginner. But, when I built it, I had used several benches in various shops, and knew that was the bench that I wanted (and it was; my main current bench is a lower version of that bench). I also had use of my non-ideal but adequate benches (or bench-like adaptations of things not meant to be woodworking benches) so I could still get stuff done. Despite following a fairly detailed and comprehensive plan, it still took me several months to build it, and I was fairly experienced at that point in my woodworking life.

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