Shop made tools used in building my 18th century bench


Seeing that my 18th century inspired bench is getting very close to being finished, I though it might be an interesting exercise to look at all the shop made tools that contributed to the final product. As you might know by now, I am based in Namibia. This means that I do not have the luxury of buying good quality woodworking tools from stores. At first it used to frustrate me with a vengeance, but over the past three years it became apparent that it is a blessing in disguise. Since I started building my own tools and restoring quality vintage tools, my learning curve went into overdrive.

Once you have managed to build (and to a lesser degree restored) a tool, you tend have a much better understanding of how it works. I also find it much more satisfying to use a shop built tool than any other.

So lets look at the lineup that helped me to build this bench. I simply picked photos from the 26 (at this stage) posts documenting the building process in superfluous detail. These posts are all entitled “My 18th Century Workbench in progress” followed by a number. I include links to posts I wrote on how each tool was built for in case you might want to take a closer look.


This is a shop made dowel plate and the mallet that did 90% of the damage needed to cut all the gargantuan through mortises.


This picture features a shop made wooden fore plane (right) and scrub plane (left). We will deal with the scrub plane later.


These sanding planes were used extensively during the tedious lamination phase.


My version of a birdcage awl (right), which I fashioned out of an old centre bit. The marking knife was made using an old plane blade and a scrap piece of Tamboti.


This is my heavy dead-blow mallet that was indispensable during the assembly of such massive joinery. It is also featured in the post entitled “Mallet Mania”


This turned Assegaai mallet was employed for the majority of the fine-tuning that the joinery needed.


At this stage I have to say that this scrub plane is my favourite shop made tool. It absolutely mutilates (in a good sort of way) any excess material that needs prompt attention. It also comes in handy as an aggressive fore plane due to it’s length. If it was not for this warmonger, I would still be trying to flatten the two laminated beams that makes up the twin-top of the bench.


A large shoulder plane with some je ne sais quoi.


This is my version of a Melencolia square.


Winding sticks



In the pictures below you can see a wooden jointer and straight edge.




This is my version of a panel gauge.



A few bench hooks.



My assembly table was probably the most indispensable shop made tool in building the bench. In the the pictures below you will also see the legvise and sliding deadman I built to enhance the repertoire of the assembly table. I chose a few photos that illustrates how the assembly table made short work of otherwise tricky tasks.




A flush plane



Some shop made squares.


I hope that this might inspire other novice woodworkers to build their shop and tools with their own shop made tools. It is a very satisfying journey.





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