November 2015 #221

Can an inexpensive portable workbench ever be stable enough for serious woodworking? If it’s Christopher Schwarz’s “Knockdown English Workbench,” the answer is an emphatic “yes.” For $175 or so – $100 for lumber, $75 for hardware – and a weekend’s effort, you can build an amazingly sturdy stowaway bench.

Christopher shows you how to lay out and place holes for benchdogs and holdfasts, build and install a crochet and a planing stop.

At 6’ long, this knockdown workbench is perfect for an apartment or small shop. And it sets up or breaks down in about 10 minutes. (Plus, he includes information on making an 8′ version.)

And vises? You don’t need no stinkin’ vices! Mike Siemsen (of Mike Siemsen’s School of Woodworking) teaches you how you can do such common workbench tasks as planing, cutting tenons or dovetails, shooting end grain and more – without a vise in sight.

Find inspiration as you admire the winners of the third annual 2015 PWM Excellence Awards. Find out who won the grand prize this year (and $1,000) as well as the top picks of both editors and readers in each of the five categories.

You know you’re a woodworker when … even your shop/utility builds start looking like fine furniture. William Ng shows you how to build a stunning sharpening pond from maple and sapele. With a built-in pump and bamboo spout, your tools may end up terrifyingly (not just scary) sharp simply because you won’t want to stop sharpening.

Consider your kitchen an annex to your shop – in “Roast Your Own” Mitch Roberson demonstrates how a few hours in the oven can do amazing things to wood. Find out his recipe for giving maple a rich chestnut color.

In “Sunburst Wall Clock,” Andy Brownell adds a bit of 21st-century flair to a mid-century modern classic. You’ll learn how to use precision geometry to lay out triangle rays and build a useful jig to do two jobs in one.

Chad Stanton, host of the “I Can Do That” video series, shows you how to build a simple folding stool that can easily be scaled up to be a folding table. Two pieces of pine, a few nuts, bolts and washers are all you need to build this practical stool in a few hours with basic tools.

In Arts & Mysteries, Peter Follansbee looks at “21st-century Craft Education;” George Walker explores “The Star Chamfer” in Design Matters; and Bob Flexner passes along “9 Useful Finishing Tips” in Flexner on Finishing.

And finally, in End Grain, woodworker Derek Olson reveals that his best tools are made from paper.

To buy the November 2015 issue, click here.

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Knockdown English Workbench

With $100 in lumber and two days, you can build this sturdy stowaway bench. by Christopher Schwarz page 22 Many knockdown workbenches suffer from unfortunate compromises. Inexpensive commercial benches that can be knocked down for shipping use skimpy hardware and thin components to reduce shipping weight. The result is that the...

Thread Chest

Woodworking Excellence

Find inspiration from our 2015 award winners. by Megan Fitzpatrick page 30 Looking through the many entries in our third annual PWM Excellence Awards highlighted the fact that good work comes in many shapes and sizes, and from people of all ages and backgrounds. It was a pleasure for the editors...

Sharpening Pond

With this inviting and accessible setup, there’s no excuse for dull blades. by William Ng page 36 The ability to keep tools sharp is a most important woodworking skill – that’s why I have a dedicated sharpening station in each of my classrooms, readily available for my students. Many woodworkers think...

Roast Your Own

Cooking wood in your kitchen can produce results that rival specialty kilns. by Mitch Roberson p. 40 Luthiers have long used roasted or tempered wood in stringed instruments because the roasting process pre-stresses the wood and caramelizes the sugars, sealing the pores and rendering them more resistant to moisture. While these...

Sunburst Wall Clock

This modern take on a mid-century classic is a study in precision geometry. by Andy Brownell page 42 The sunburst-style wall clock came in a variety of shapes and sizes during its heyday of the mid-1940s to the mid ’60s. Its aesthetic captured many of the design elements common to the...

Design Matters: The Star Chamfer

This simple transition of surfaces helps place emphasis where you want it.  by George R. Walker page 18 Just a week into my machinist apprenticeship I felt, for the first time, the wrath of Big Red. He was the head inspector in the tool room and got the nickname for his...

Arts & Mysteries: 21st-century Craft Education

Always remember where you (and your work) came from. by Peter Follansbee page 46 How we go about learning to build “period” furniture today is nothing like what the makers of our study pieces did. In the pre-Industrial era, apprenticeship was the principal method of learning any trade. In the English...

I Can Do That: Folding Stool

With two pieces of pine and simple tools, make this easy-to-store seat. by Chad Stanton page 50 This simple project made from two pieces of dimensional pine can help solve seating shortages at your next gathering – and it folds neatly away for the next get-together. All you need is a...

Tool Test: BT&C Hardware Store Saw

More than just a saw, this tool offers (useful) infomercial-like functions. by Christopher Schwarz page 14 I’m not a fan of multi-tools. In my experience they are marketing gimmicks that do nothing particularly well. But the new Brooklyn Tool & Craft Hardware Store Saw is a huge exception to that rule....