French Bench. German School. American Teacher. Day 1.
No matter how many times I do it, every class on building a workbench is remarkably different.
Different wood. Different tools. Different students. Different country.
I don’t know how I got talked into teaching a workbench class at a hand-tool school in Germany. OK, that’s a lie. I know exactly how. I was drinking beer with the students from the class last year, and they convinced me it was a good idea. (Note to self: Stop at two beers.)
Despite my misgivings about preparing for a workbench class on the other side of the world, I am really quite excited about some of the challenges ahead.
First up: Mortising the top. The staff at Dictum GmbH glued up the tops for the 13 benches we are building. It is a European oak – French, I’m told – and very hard and heavy. They found the oak beams from a supplier that stocked wood for repairing or restoring bell towers. It’s quite massive stuff (each stick is 140 mm x 140 mm).
If we mortised it by hand, we’d probably break a few chisels. And a few spirits. Luckily, one of the teachers at Dictum had a brilliant idea. There’s a hint in the video that goes with this blog entry.
Challenge No. 2: Cutting the tops to finished length. The solution is a circular saw. But not just any circular saw. Again, it’s in the video.
I’ve got to cut this blog entry short because I need to go eat my Wheaties before the heavy lifting begins. Correction. I’m in Germany. I need to go eat my cold cuts on delicious brown bread.
— Christopher Schwarz
I’m in Bavaria this week at the school run by Dictum GmbH. They offer some very interesting classes in English. If you’re thinking of a woodworking vacation, you might want to check the company’s class schedule.
For more on workbenches, check out “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use” in our store.