Every day I receive dozens of e-mails. Everyone suffers from this affliction, but when you’re on the staff of a magazine you’re an attractive target for photographers, illustrators, PR people and marketing gurus. I wade through them all, and every now and then I’m pleasantly surprised to get a message from a reader with a photo of his version of something I’ve designed and built for Popular Woodworking Magazine. That happened this morning, when Nick from Brooklyn sent the photo at left. He had asked a few months ago about shortening my bench to better fit his workspace and what to watch out for if he did that. He also added a couple of drawers and drilled 3/4″ diameter holes in the ends of the tool trays to make them easier to remove.
At right is my bench, about six months after I built it for the October 2008 issue. I was rather proud of myself at the time; years and years of making stuff on crummy benches is a good source for design ideas, and I wanted a bench suited for the way I work. Apparently I did pretty well, as lots of people have built their own version of this thing.It’s satisfying to get it right the first time and get on with making other, more challenging things.
Part of my design criteria was to make the project approachable to woodworkers with modest equipment. It may not be the most trendy bench, but it works and I built mine with 6″ jointer, a 12″ lunchbox planer, a hybrid table saw, a drill press and no workbench. This project was also the subject of the first video produced by Popular Woodworking. That video now lives on our streaming video sight, “Shop Class on Demand”. We also shot some video about shooting the cover photo, and if you want to see how a small group of people can complicate the simplest of tasks, click here.