Finally, A new work bench

Over a year ago I acquired several slabs of red oak. There were two 4″ thick slabs sawn from about the center of a single tree, about 14 feet long and 17 to 22 inches wide. The tree had been leaning up against a barn for nearly twenty years, this having more than sufficient time to air dry. It’s actually surprising they did not go to bugs or rot. Regardless, I took the two and cut them into shorter boards, closer to usable lengths with the intention of making a work bench. I haven’t had a work bench since I moved a year and a half ago, and have been making do with some very creative work surfaces. No more.

I’ll expand more on the details as the build continues, but I’m looking to dive right in.

First things first: form. I’m working from a few examples found in the Die Hausbucher der Nurnberger Zwolfbruderstiftungen. Picking two from the first half of the 15th century:

Karl Scheyner, D. 1414

Peter Sreiner, d. 1444

 

We have a pretty simple construction in both of these benches. Wide top, stake legs, and various dog-holes for stops. Forced perspective as used in these illuminations makes for some weirdnesses, but nothing that can’t be overcome with simple logic.
Obviously, my four inch thick slabs will be quite a bit heftier than the apparent thicknesses of the benches depicted here.Next time, preparing the benchtop.

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One Response to Finally, A new work bench

  1. Mel Kemp / Ivan says:

    I built a bench like this in 2011 as part of a competition (likely for the same organization you are part of, though in a different area) and I have to say, they work pretty well and are simple. I built mine with a 2” maple top and maple legs. Since I also wanted this to be my portable event workbench, I made one major change from the depiction and threaded the legs so they could be unscrewed for easy breakdown and transport. With that said, the one thing I would point out is to take a careful look at the depictions. Most of them show the bench apparently pushed up against the wall so that it can’t move while planeing. After using the bench in various situations, I can vouch for this being a good idea. That means the stops need to be well back from the edge, as shown in the illuminations. An alternate solution if you don’t have a wall or tree or something to push the bench against is to place your rear foot against the rear leg while planeing. This works ok but isn’t ideal.
    Ivan

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