This week a team of 25 woodworkers is in Barnesville, Ga., to build 17 massive French workbenches using ancient oak imported from France and every bit of machinery muscle we can get.
I love hand tools, but when it comes to moving around 400-pound slabs of oak, I’m happy to see a forklift coming my way.
These 17 benches will be the product of the French Oak Roubo Project, an event put on by the people at Benchcrafted and Wyatt Childs, a Barnesville-area woodworker. Sixteen people from all over North America will arrive this afternoon to get settled in. Monday morning, we start to get busy.
Assisting the 16 participants are a bunch of woodworkers who have experience building benches and furniture, including Jameel Abraham of Benchcrafted, Bo Childs, Jeff Miller, Don Williams, Raney Nelson, Will Meyers, John Hoffman, Ron Brese, Brian Buckner and me.
I built one of these workbenches during the event last year; it’s now my bench in my shop in Kentucky. I’m also building a bench this time as well, but it’s for a customer.
Today while we wait for the participants to arrive, Raney, Jameel, Bo and a crew are cutting down the slabs on a WoodMizer band saw mill to get them into chunks we can muscle over the smaller machines.
If you’d like to read about last year’s event check out this report from the Highland Woodworker.
I’ll be posting updates here all week.
— Christopher Schwarz
Want to build your own massive French bench? Check out my DVD “Build an 18th-century Workbench” from ShopWoodworking.com.