We have just opened up for a pre-order discount on the first batch of our new Lake Erie Toolworks marking knife design. Discounted price valid through the end of March with shipment scheduled at the end of May. Click here for more details.
Thanks to Bill Leonhardt from East Patchogue, New York for sending in this detail regarding his version of the 21st Century Workbench that features a Lake Erie Toolworks wooden vise screw instead of the original metal twin screw design. This is truly one amazing workbench.
I was attracted, at first sight, to the 21st Century Workbench built by Robert Lang and featured in a Popular Woodworking magazine in 2008. I finally got an opportunity to build this bench in the beginning of 2020 and, fortunately, procured all the materials just before the Covid pandemic hit. It took me 4 to 5 months to complete and the final dimensions are 75” long (not counting end vise) x 30” wide x 34.5” high. The top is 3” thick and the final weight is about 312 lbs. The bench material is ash, and a nice feature is the fact that the top is in two halves and each half is narrow enough to fit through a normal 13-inch planer.
One of the reasons I am attracted to this bench is the fact that the base uses both upper and lower stretchers, which means it does not use the top for support or to stiffen it. That is important to me, because my use of the top is an evolving philosophy. With an “independent” base, I can reconfigure the top in the future if I choose to and still maintain the stiffness and rigidity the base offers.
I deviated somewhat form the original bench design to better accommodate my space limitations and to incorporate a leg vise in place of the original twin screw. I also changed the method of connecting the long stretchers to the legs so that the bench could be broken down and transported more easily. I opted for a leg vise with wood screw in place of the double screw vise and I used a quick release vise I had on hand for the end vise.
In building the leg vise, I used a precision shaft and linear bearing in place of the traditional multi-hole plate at the bottom of a typical leg vise which eliminates the need to shift the spacing pin for different material thicknesses. I chose a Lake Erie wood screw because it has a much coarser thread (than a metal screw) which means less turns for the vise travel. The combination of the precision shaft and wood screw makes for an exceptionally smooth operating vise.
In applying finish to the bench, I wanted to protect the wood, but, at the same time, I wanted to not have a slippery surface for working. In the end, I chose to use two wiped-on coats of the following mixture: 1/3 mineral spirits + 1/3 polyurethane + 1/3 boiled linseed oil. I am pleased with the way this turned out as I got the desired surface.
Note that the tool trays can be reversed to make one continuous top or removed to make clamping on one of the top halves easier. Additionally, I can saw wood that is held in the end vise “right-handed”. Never had this before since a typical face vise is at the left end of the bench. At this point, I am very happy with the current configuration and I anticipate no changes. I do however, like the fact that I can easily reconfigure the top in the future if I change my mind.
Our latest Workbench Idea was sent in by Matt Miller from Clear Lake, Iowa who has one of the greatest workbench and workshop setups that we have ever seen. Matt’s father and grandfather taught him the woodworking craft well and assisted by his wife and son, Matt crafted the workbench and shop of a lifetime. His massive walnut 2X wooden twin screw vise is also the cherry on top to finish up this functional woodworking paradise.
I started woodworking when I was just a kiddo. My Grandfather and Father owned a hardware store where I learned about good tools, cut glass, electrical and plumbing. What an education! I worked in the hardware store until I was 28 and went to work as a sales manager for a baking company for the next 34 years, retiring 4 years ago.
My Grandfather made all his own furniture in his house and I was always amazed how well he made his projects with very minimal hand and power tools. I inherited a lot of my woodworking tools and knowledge from my Grandfather and my Father.
The Cadillac walnut twin screw vise is 8″ x 36″. It is held together with the two biggest screws that Lake Erie Toolworks makes (2X wood vise premium kits). You guys make our projects look and work great!
My Workbench I built with my wife and son in 2005. It took us 3 years to build. It is built from quarter sawn white oak with some red oak and walnut as accents. Over 8 feet long with a double row of bench dogs along with the Emmert patternmakers vise are a joy to use. The two Record bench screws and the Record vise make woodworking simple and easy.
I have totally restored all my Delta woodworking power tools and use them daily.
My woodworking shop is truly heaven on earth. I am always busy and my children and grandchildren will pull up a stool to the workbench where we tell stories and share a beverage. It is the place to sit and many a story has been told and embellished at this bench.
Sincerely, Matt Miller – Clear Lake, Iowa
Of course our wooden vise kits make an excellent Christmas gift, but if you are in the market for something a little different, we’ve compiled a list of general tools that we use and highly recommend. We are part of Amazon’s affiliate program and earn a small commission if you click through the links and make a purchase. Just click on the pictures to check them out.
Aerokroil Penetrating Lubricant: Far and away the best kind that we’ve used. If you have any bolts that have developed a ‘vintage patina’, this is the stuff to use. It’s more expensive than the other stuff but it will save you hours of frustration and prevent you from scaring your neighbors and small woodland creatures away while working on your vehicle. If it can’t get a bolt loose, it’s time to break out the torch.
Maximum Impact Bolt & Nut Remover Set: I (Nick) have a ’95 Land Cruiser project vehicle, more project than vehicle unfortunately, and these have been very helpful in removing 25 year old rusty bolts and nuts. When combined with the Aerokroil above and an impact wrench, there are few bolts that I can’t get loose. At $29.95, these are a crazy good value if you do any kind of wrenching on cars.
Bondhus Allen Wrench set: We really like this set because they are top quality and the Metric wrenches are gold and the Imperial are silver. We have several of these around the shop and the color difference helps us keep things organized. Bondhus makes excellent T-handle wrenches as well as torx and other style drivers. Made in the USA as well.
Trusco Tool Boxes: These are quality Japanese made steel toolboxes. I have a couple of the smaller ones and the one in the link above is great to keep a small basic toolkit for around the house tasks or in your trunk. It’s also my go-to as a kids first toolbox; small enough for them to handle yet something that will last into adulthood. They also make smaller box style ones and larger toolboxes with cantilever lids.
PB Swiss Screwdrivers: The king of screwdrivers. They are made in Switzerland, the steel is excellent, the tips are precisely ground and the rubber grip is formulated so that it is still grippy even if you’re hands have some dirt or oil on them. Great for automotive or maintenance work. Two thumbs way up.
Grace Screwdrivers: Well made wood handled screwdrivers. These are a great option f you aren’t planning on using these with oily hands. Good steel, comfortable grips, properly shaped tips, good value and made in the good ole’ U S of A. They also make all kinds of specialty and gunsmith screwdrivers.
Unscrew-Ums: I was driving a screw into the hard maple face frame of a kitchen cabinet base that I had already installed and the head snapped off just below the surface. What to do? I didn’t wan’t to drill a big hole around the screw so I took to the interwebs to find a solution. I was skeptical but I bought the individual size that I needed for the #8 screw and it actually worked. You chuck it in your drill, run it in reverse and it begins to cut away the threads leaving the screw shaft intact. The slit in the side allows it to expand a bit and the spring action combined with the saw teeth at the tip grip into the top 1/8″ of the broken off screw and back it out, leaving a mostly intact hole ready for the replacement screw to be installed at a lower clutch setting.
If you are looking for good ideas for books, here is a link to our list of recommended books on woodworking and machining: https://www.lakeerietoolworks.com/pages/recommended-resources
Our good friends at the Woodsmith Shop have now recorded a television episode in which they have built an English style workbench (A New Old Workbench) that is either available via your local PBS channel or is also for purchase online from their Woodsmithshop.com website.
Since a sturdy workbench should be among the first tools in your woodworking toolkit, this specific workbench video and plan set will provide you with the core information needed to make this bench a reality in your workshop.
Just remember, there’s nothing quite like crafting your own workbench, and when a friend or family member asks if “You built that workbench”? Followed up with “It’s simply amazing”! There’s nothing quite like that pride of accomplishment that you will surely feel.
Happy Woodworking from Lake Erie Toolworks
Our latest Workbench Idea comes from Tom M. from The Woodlands, Texas who has built a modified Nicholson English Workbench with a leg vise. This juggernaut weighs in at around 300 pounds and is solid as a rock. Tom also shows us the various major steps of construction that he used to build this monster bench from planing & joinery of the various wood components through glue-up and final assembly. Enjoy!
This design was inspired by Paul Sellers on YouTube. My version is a bit bigger. I built is using hand tools only – just to see if I could.
The wood materials are Southern Yellow pine construction lumber purchased from Lowes.
The bench is sealed with boiled linseed oil, weighs about 300 pounds and is as solid as a rock. I think it will last.
Tom M. – The Woodlands, Texas
Our latest Workbench Idea comes from Ed D. from the Big Easy, New Orleans, Louisiana, who has built a fantastic Split Top Roubo Bench featuring a leg and wagon vise. Enjoy.
I started this bench over a year ago but haven’t had time to finish it until now, since the pandemic closed me down for a few months. It’s made from 8/4 cherry and maple. I indulged myself and fancied it up a tiny bit with the laminated legs and ebony plugs.
Both vises work great. The wagon vise is an amazing help for planing as I’ve tried to make the transition to hand tools for everything except for initial milling.
Next on the agenda is a cherry tool chest that will fit into the base. Going to wooden screws is really a game-changer in my opinion when efficiency is a goal. Thanks again!
New Orleans, LA
Lake Erie Toolworks is proud to announce the launch of our new “ForeverBench” custom and personalized workbench product line. Constructed with features found only on fine furniture, these benches are built to last and will fit your every hobbyist need. They will also be right at home in your workshop, rec-room, basement, garage or even as your kitchen island.
Whether you are a woodworker, maker, fly-tier, gunsmith, reloading enthusiast, gardener, jeweler, modeler, guitar builder, homemaker, chef, culinary artist, or any hobbyist, a solid hard maple, custom bench, built right here in the USA will serve you very well.
- Solid hard maple construction
- Hard Maple Wood Welded Benchtop by Bally Block Co.
- Uncompromising drawbored mortise and tenon joinery
- Steel tension rod assembly
- Durable finish
- Personalize your bench with included V-Carved text
- 2-1/4” thick benchtop, about twice as stiff as the standard 1-3/4” thick top
- Adjustable leveling feet, hard maple foot pads are standard
- Custom bench height (most popular height being around 34-35″)
- Full length benchtop strips (butcher block / end finger joined blocks are standard)
- Hard maple ship lapped shelf
- Standard Vise and Premium Quick Release Vise
- Moxon Vise and Moxon Lite Vise add-ons
- Custom image routing beyond V-Carved text quoted on a case-by-case basis
For more details or to order your ForeverBench, just check out our website at www.LakeErieToolworks.com.
Heads up that Lake Erie Toolworks Moxon Vises are in the latest issue of Woodcraft Magazine (Feb/Mar 2020). You can check out the update in their “Great Gear” section via the following link.
Woodcraft also happens to be one of the premier distributors of Lake Erie Toolworks products and can be accessed online via their Woodcraft.com website.
Our latest Workbench Idea comes from Quentin W. who has built a tremendous English Style “Nicholson” Workbench featuring a face vise. The entire bench is also made out of cherry and she’s a beauty!. Enjoy.
Primary construction of my modified Nicholson “English” bench is complete. I still need to add holes in top and skirt. I am waiting for arrival of holdfasts from blacksmith before drilling to assure proper fit.
The bench is constructed entirely from 8/4 cherry, glued up into 16/4 stock for legs and vise. The top is flush with skirt in front, overhanging in the rear so that I have option of clamping a work light for detail work.
The vise jaw is a massive 4x12x24 inches, with a 3×3 walnut glide parallel to the screw to avoid racking. Even with this weight, the Lake Erie vise is smooth acting.
The cherry had a number of imperfections that made it is less than ideal for a serious furniture project, but with a butterfly inlay securing a split on the rear skirt and a couple of dutchmen laid into the top, it is flat, solid, and good to go.
I am not sure of weight, but it definitely does not move no matter how hard I push. For an 18th-century inspired bench designed for hand work, there is something very special about a wooden screw.
The heft and precision threads of the Lake Erie screw were an ideal match to this period style bench.
Quentin W. – Greenwich, NJ