Announcing Our November 2017 Lake Erie Toolworks Workbench Idea

Our latest Lake Erie Toolworks Workbench Idea for November 2017 comes to us from Marcel K. from Auckland, New Zealand.  Marcel has built a tremendous Moravian Style Workbench using the Will Myers Moravian build DVD as his inspiration and guide.  Kudos to Marcel, as well as to Will Myers and Joshua Farnsworth for helping to make this reality happen.

Lake Erie Toolworks, Moravian Workbench, Wooden Vise Screw, Leg Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks, Moravian Workbench, Wooden Vise Screw, Leg Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks, Moravian Workbench, Wooden Vise Screw, Leg Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks, Moravian Workbench, Wooden Vise Screw, Leg Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks, Moravian Workbench, Wooden Vise Screw, Leg Vise

Hi Nick,

I can’t believe it took me this long to build it but I finally finished my workbench.

Not sure whether it meets the standard of the other awesome workbenches in your blog but I thought I’d fire some pictures and text (below) through to at least show that the vise has eventually been put to use.

And of course let you know my appreciation of your vise screws.

Kind regards,

Marcel K. – Auckland, New Zealand

Details/Comments

When I first saw Will Myer’s WKFineTools article on the portable Moravian design I knew it was a perfect choice for the tight confines of my garage. Basically I wanted something that was solid/heavy yet not too big and could still be relatively easily moved when needed.

The only thing I wanted to change was the tool tray as I preferred having extra bench space so to SketchUp I went and started working on modifying the design to incorporate the Roubo split top idea. After a year of pondering (while building my tool chest) an article appeared on the Lake Erie blog about a great compact version of a “Split Top Moravian” from Ron G in Florida which confirmed my ideas.

While finishing my tool chest I bought Will Myer’s fantastic DVD (“Building the Portable Moravian Workbench”) and watched it repeatedly while acquiring the lumber and letting it dry a bit. After purchasing the Lake Erie Toolworks vise screw I set to work in December last year.

Yes it took me about 10 months of working off and on to complete!

I did nearly all of it by hand (rough-sawn stock dimensioning, joinery etc) and only submitted to power at the end to cut the back slab to final width using a circular saw. By then I thought I’d had enough hand sawing practice!

The bench is all white ash apart from the maple Lake Erie vise screw. Even the various dowels were formed from scrap Ash used during the build (hardwood dowel is hard to come by in New Zealand). I went with a Veritas inset vise for the end vise due to its compactness since the design doesn’t have much space at the bench ends to add a vise.

The inset vise works but during the bench build process I frequently used the notched batten method (“Doe’s foot”) to hold boards while planing on a make shift bench and it worked so well I’ve since been wondering whether I even need an end vise. The things you learn…

The overall length and width of the bench matches Will’s plans (76″ x 24”). The top slabs are asymmetrical with the front one about 12.75” wide and the back about 9.5” separated by a 1.75” slotted gap stop. This means that I have the option of building a tool tray like the original plans if I want in the future. It also means that with the gap stop in the raised position I can comfortably hand plane a 12” or so wide board against the stop.

The thickness of the top is 4.25” which is thicker than the original plans (3.5”) and the legs and stretchers are also a bit thicker than the plans so the bench is certainly heavy when assembled. I haven’t weighed it but the front slab alone is at least 40kgs (about 90lbs) so while the bench is technically portable you wouldn’t want to move the front slab too far by yourself!

The bench and vise are finished with Organoil’s Danish oil which is one of my favourite finishes. A straight oil finish that’s easy to apply and doesn’t leave a varnish/film finish and smells pine fresh which is a bonus :-). The top still has a bit of friction which is great when working on it.

There are still a few details to finish off including boring some more hold-fast holes, adding some cork or leather to the leg vise jaw and adding a loose tongue and groove lower shelf but the bench is up and running and the leg vise works awesome. I was expecting a fair bit of initial “squeakiness” before wearing it in but the Danish oil and paste wax on the screw threads have it running smoothly already.

Apologies for the quality of the pictures but they give you an idea of how small my workspace is. Basically the workbench and my tool chest sit on some rubber mats about 8’x8′ in size and that’s my entire workspace. Also shown in the pictures is the gap stop in the raised position and the vise screw. If a project I’m working on needs more space I can temporarily move the car out of the garage, partially disassemble the bench tops, rotate it 90º and reassemble to give me extra room on both sides of the bench.

This project was a fun challenge and while there’s a few mistakes, it was a great learning exercise for a novice like me. Perhaps the biggest lesson learned though is that next time I should consider buying a portable thicknesser! Jointing 20+ large lengths of timber by hand is enjoyable, thicknessing them not so much 🙂

Big thanks to Lake Erie for making such wonderful vise screws. When it arrived I wasn’t sure whether to use it or put it on the shelf as a work of art it looked so amazing.

Big thanks as well to Will Myers (and Joshua Farnsworth) for creating the workbench DVD which I highly recommend and also to Will for taking time to answer some queries I had on the design.

Roubo Workbench Build – Part 2 of 2 from Crafted Workshop

The Roubo Workbench Build (Part 2 of 2) is now complete and has been posted online by Johnny Brooke from Crafted Workshop.  The overall video and direction provided by Johnny for both Parts 1 and 2 of this very informative series are fantastic.

While Part 1 of this video series covered the workbench top and wagon vise installation, Part 2 focuses on the leg & stretcher portion of the Roubo Workbench along with the leg vise and chop build and installation.  The end product – an amazing and very functional workbench.  The plans are also available for purchase on the Crafted Workshop website as well.

Great job Johnny!

Roubo Workbench, Wagon Vise, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise, Crafted Workshop

 

Roubo Workbench Build From Crafted Workshop

One of the things that we’ve needed to do for a long time now was to make a good video on how to build a Roubo Workbench using our Lake Erie Toolworks wooden wagon and leg vise kits.

I guess we can check this one off the list now as our good friend Johnny Brooke from Crafted Workshop has done an amazing job with this fantastic Roubo build video (Part 1 of 2).  He will also be adding the workbench build plans for sale to his website very soon along with the Part 2 of 2 video to finish up the workbench.

Great job Johnny – job very well done!

Roubo Workbench, Lake Erie Toolworks, Crafted Workshop, Wagon Vise, Leg Vise, Wooden Vise

Red Oak Roubo Workbench Kits – That’s the Ticket

As you decide which workbench style is right for you and if a Roubo is where you are headed, we suggest you take a look at our good friends from Re-Co Bklyn to consider their green Red Oak Roubo Workbench Kits.

These green (partially air dried) Red Oak workbench kits feature a slab bench top, legs, stretchers and chop, custom sized by you and can be shipped anywhere in the U.S. This lumber has also been harvested from reclaimed trees from the metro New York City Area.  Great for the environment and great for you.

Roubo Workbench Kit

wood

We also know that Christopher Schwarz is a fan of Slab workbench construction, and has had great success building this type of workbench, so it must be good.  Plus it will save you the time and effort of having to glue up a workbench top – which is no small amount of work.

Frankly, the only other choice you’ll have to make here if you decide to pursue this bench kit is for which type of vise to marry up with your red oak chop to power this workbench.  If your choice happens to be a fully wooden vise screw kit, we know some people that can hook you up there.

Best regards,

Lake Erie Toolworks

Workbenches – Which Path Do I Follow?

When a woodworker makes that fateful decision to build their own workbench, the next logical step is – what style of workbench do I build?  Roubo, Nicholson, Moravian, Scandinavian, etc.

Then there’s the many other factors such as: what type of wood should I use, what type of finish do I need, how tall or wide should it be, should it be a solid permanent workbench or a knock-down transportable type, how much should it weigh, what kind of vises should I use, and the list goes on.

It also might be heresy for me to say, but a fully wooden vise screw & nut isn’t always the proper choice for every woodworker given their own personal situation. There are times & circumstances when a metal vise screw is the best way to go.

The short answer to what type of Workbench you should pursue is, IT DEPENDS.

It depends on many factors such as:

  • Hand tool work or Power tool work (or a mix)
  • How much are you looking to spend (a lot or a little)
  • Will it be stationary or do you need to transport it frequently
  • Are you building small bird houses & gifts or large ornate furniture
  • Planning to do lots of joinery (dovetails, tenons, etc.) or not much at all
  • Are you working in a small apartment or a sprawling workshop
  • etc, etc, etc.

By giving all of this a lot of honest thought and after a bunch of research using the many fine workbench building resources that are out there (Books, DVDs, Websites), you will eventually land on a workbench path that you must follow.  The key is that everyone should chart their own personal path to their own workbench nirvana.

Until then, I’d like to point you to some additional resources that you can find on our “Links/Info” section of our Lake Erie Toolworks website.  First off, we have a section called “Workbench Ideas” that has a huge number of workbench styles for you to peruse & consider on your path to personal discovery.

We also have several links for you to follow to check out Will Myer’s workbench builds for his Roubo, Nicholson and Moravian Style Workbenches.  There’s also a link to a Workbench video series from Paul Sellers that I think many of you will find very informative.

We’ll keep adding more informative detail on our “Links/Info” page of our website in the future to help you in your quest, but until then, keep on driving until you find the right exit ramp to your own ultimate Workbench destination,

Best regards,

Jeff Dombrowski – Lake Erie Toolworks

 

Announcing our March 2017 Workbench Idea

We have a truly unique and amazing Workbench Idea for you that comes from Gerald L. who hails from Carlin, Nevada.  Carlin is near the Carlin Trend which happens to be one of the most productive gold mining areas in the United States.  Clearly, more than one type of gold can be mined in Nevada as Gerald truly hit the mother lode when he created this phenomenal workbench.
Lake Erie Toolworks, Leg Vise, Wooden Leg Vise, Tail Vise, Roubo Workbench,

Lake Erie Toolworks, Leg Vise, Wooden Leg Vise, Tail Vise, Roubo Workbench,

Lake Erie Toolworks, Leg Vise, Wooden Leg Vise, Tail Vise, Roubo Workbench,

WB-March2017-4-Web

WB-March2017-5-Web

Built this bench in 2015 inspired by all the beautiful benches @ work bench of the month (on Lake Erie Toolworks Website, now known as “Workbench Ideas”).  I don’t consider it a certain style, just the size for area I had to put it, w/accommodation for items I wanted it to store.

It’s white oak w/pine drawer boxes. leg vice w/Lake Erie maple screw which I sleeved w/oak to match bench and scissor for alignment control. Shoulder vice w/Lie Nielsen slide hardware, one row of 3/4″ dog holes continuous of top. Thin drawers for chisels, top narrow drawers for dogs and misc. Bottom drawer is for my routers along w/shelf just under bench top which is approximately 3-3/4 thick w/ dovetailed corners.

It’s not my main bench, it’s my nice bench (don’t beat stuff up on this one) but I do use it. Finished w/2/3 linseed oil and 1/3 varnish mix. Love the wood screw, smooth quick action. I’m 67 and now build about whatever I want to. Learned the trade from my dad who was a self-employed builder/woodworker for over 50 years. I have a very nice shop of my own and love this work bench.

Thank you for ideas and inspiration to build this one.

Gerald L. – Carlin, Nevada

Announcing Our December 2016 Workbench Idea

Our latest Workbench Idea comes to us from James P. from Hurricane, West Virginia. James built a great English style workbench as well as a Moravian style workbench that he constructed at the Woodwright’s School in North Carolina.  We think you’ll agree that he did a great job on both workbenches.  So here’s your year end 2016 two-fer workbench idea!

Lake Erie Toolworks Workbench Idea, English Style Workbench, Moravian Style Workbench, Wooden Vise, Face Vise, Leg Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks Workbench Idea, English Style Workbench, Moravian Style Workbench, Wooden Vise, Face Vise, Leg Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks Workbench Idea, English Style Workbench, Moravian Style Workbench, Wooden Vise, Face Vise, Leg Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks Workbench Idea, English Style Workbench, Moravian Style Workbench, Wooden Vise, Face Vise, Leg Vise

Lake Erie Toolworks Workbench Idea, Moravian Style Workbench, Wooden Vise, Leg Vise

Hi Nick,

I wanted to thank you for the technical assistance and information on the face vise build for my English style work bench.  The screw is working great and I love this vise.  I wanted to share some pictures of my new bench and my Moravian style work bench that I built at the Woodwright  School a couple of years ago.  Both have Lake Erie vise screws and both are fantastic.

Thank you,

James P. – Hurricane West Virginia