My 18th Century Workbench in progress 1

Research and Dreams

8/11/2013 – A couple of weeks ago I realised that I would be able to fit my dream (proper) workbench into the shop space I already have. Until recently the idea was to only build this bench once my shop has been enlarged somewhat. Then one evening while packing a few things away before heading down to the house, I suddenly saw how the bench could fit quite easily with only a relatively minor reorganization of some power tools.

Since then my research, reading and thinking about the design of the bench sparked up again. I started re-reading the two books by Christopher Schwarz on designing and building traditional workbenches. I bought the article he wrote on building a Holtzapffel bench quite some time ago and re-read that as well..

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This is an example of a Holtzapffel bench I found on the internet. My bench will be a version of a Holtzapffel and I particularly like the design of this one with the split top. Mine will probably have a bit of a wider gap to make it easier to get a F-style clamp through. I also plan to use a twin-screw vise as a face vise (same as the bench below) and a legvise on the opposite side in the face vise position. This is because my bench will be place so that one can work on it from all sides, rather than against a wall. I hope that my son will one day join me in the shop so the two face vises will enable us to work simultaneously and provide a wider range of options while I work by myself.

The end vise is still at a stage were I am weighing up different options. At present I am leaning towards using a smaller twin-screw vise, which could enable me to use another row of dog holes on the opposite side of the bench.

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Just another example of a Holtzapffel bench. I will aim to also have a shelve low down between the stretchers, such as the bench below.

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I really like the look and strength of these through mortise and tendon joinery that seems to be very commonly used on traditional Roubo benches. I am planning to use it for my bench.

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The bench below show what I plan for the opposite (to the twin-screw) side of my bench to look like. A leg vise with a sliding deadman.

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This afternoon I want to go and find, or more likely order, beech boards for this project. The idea is that the wood can then settle/acclimatize (in my shop) over the next 6 months or so until I have moved the power tools that needs to be moved (which will include building a few cabinets) to create the space for the bench.

As you would expect by now I plan to use only Lie-Nielsen hardware for all my vises.

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leg vise

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