Category Archives: Day to day

My 18th Century Workbench in progress 2

Wood Forage

18/11/2013 – I finally managed to go and see Attila Hoth of Southern Wood Trading on 7/11/2013. His warehouse is outside Windhoek, close to the Dobra Church. I struggled a bit to find the place so ended up having only about 10 minutes or so with him before having to rush back to work. The plan was to take a few pictures of the setup, but that did not happen due to the rush. I explained to him what I was after and how I want to build the bench. He agreed to work out a quote for the beech wood I need.


Attila promptly sent me the quote on Monday morning and now I have to find the money before the end of the year. The plan is to buy the wood and let it sit in the woodshed for a few months while I get the space for the bench sorted in the shop. It will also take a while to save for and order the Lie-Nielsen vise hardware. By the way, I am now leaning towards using their tail vise in the end vise position (rather than a second twin-screw vise), but this might still change a few times between now and the day I need to order.

LN tail vise

I decided to use beech for this project for two main reasons. 1) The experience I gained building all those hand planes with beech this year made me realise that it is particularly stable. 2) The very light colour really helps with reflecting light, which improves visibility.

26/11/2013 – My minister of finance finally informed me today that we should be able to make the payment to Attila by the end of the week!!!

27/11/2013 – As luck would have it I saw Attila in the street close to my practice this morning and promptly found a place to park. Illegally of course. We had a quick chat about the good news I received and he agreed to square the wood up on his monstrous jointer. So hopefully the wood will arrive at home some time next week. That would conclude phase one of my biggest project yet.

Below you can see exactly what I received.

JPEGEerste hout

I had a dream that …

21/11/2013 –

… I own a plough plane. Over the past few weeks I realised that during the early stages of setting up my workshop two years ago, I unpacked what I would now recognise to be a brand new plough plane. At that stage I did not quite know what it was and decided that I would keep it until I know how it works or decide to use the array of blades for building another tool. I distinctly remember thinking this.

I think the thought of the plane once came back to me while doing all the research on planes while building my wooden planes, which is well documented elsewhere on this site. The I forgot about it again, only to have the vision of unpacking it a couple of weeks ago. This time round (with my new found knowledge of planes) immediately knew that it was a plough plane and realised how useful it could be in my shop. Then I started searching for the plane, but could not find it anywhere in the shop. I distinctly remember standing next to the green bench when I unpacked it. Then I went through all the boxes in the garage that is housing my wood at present, but could not find it there either.

Last night I found the documents where my Dad listed all the contents of all the boxes that travelled from George in South Africa when we moved into the house in Windhoek. Part of this move was lots of my Dad’s tools that he passed on to me. The plane being something I have never see as far as my memory goes and clearly from looking at it he never even took it out of it’s original box.

To my surprise I found the Plough Plane listed in a box that has not even been opened yet?????

I thought that this might be a mistake, but opened the box anyway and found one brand new original Stanley plough plane also unopened in it’s original box. How does this work?? I have no idea, but it is quite weird.

Anyway I took some pictures to show you what it looks like. It has one very nasty plastic tote which I need to replace with a nice wooden one, but otherwise in absolute perfect condition.








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..

workbench 1Y1532

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.


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.


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.


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.



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.





leg vise

Lie-Nielsen customer service

6/11/2013 – I would like to thank everyone at Lie-Nielsen, and in particular Deneb Puchalski, Kirsten Lie-Nielsen and Jillian McCrohan for their superb customer service. It has been my consistent experience that these guys go out of their way to help poor sods like me who are stuck in woodworking-hinterland. Otherwise known as Africa, or more specifically Namibia. For customers like me they probably spend more time and effort to get my orders sorted than what would be economically profitable.

Over the past few weeks they have responded to heaps of e-mails and came up with ingenious plans to help me. They are not scared or reluctant to give me advise when I decide to try and build a tool myself to cut down on cost as you can imagine what the shipping to Namibia adds up to. When I do order some of their gold standard tools, they simply leave no stone unturned to make sure that it gets to me safely.

Due to my geographically-challenged-status, I end up having to buy everything I need via mail order and can honestly say that Lie-Nielsen has been the only company willing to deal with all the challenges of getting stuff to my Deep Dark African hideout.

So thanks a lot guys and viva Lie-Nielsen!

Spring steel


Yesterday I received some really good news. The guys at Geva Sales in Windhoek informed me that they will be able to access 0.5 mm thick sheet spring steel for me. It would enable me to build all the backsaws that I can not buy in Namibia. I am planning to kickoff with two Tenon saws (one cross cut and one rip) and a Dovetail saw.

I will keep you posted on the progress. Anyone who wants to build their own saw can benefit from looking at the websites listed on the library page of this site, especially

The “parked” experience

During the past weekend I wanted to add to the posts on the different planes I am in the process of building. To my shock I found that my website has been “parked”. I had a huge fright because I had no idea what this meant. My first thought was that I would lose all the stuff I wrote so diligently   over the past few months.

A quick call to my IT guy who has set the account/domain up, had me feeling a bit better. Apparently the server “parks” your website when they do not receive the fees in a timely fashion. My IT guy had some trouble to log on to their system in order to pay the fees, hence my site being “parked” for two days. He managed to “unpark” the site fairly quickly though. Well, I guess you live and learn so now at least I can tick the “parked experience” as well.

I am however happy to report that we did not lose anything and that I am aiming to add all the stuff I did on the weekend within the next few days. I made good progress on the Jack Plane, Fore Plane and Jointer.