The Self-building Workbench
From the chicken vs. egg file: Many beginning woodworkers think you have to have a workbench in order to build a workbench. So they buy a cheap workbench and suffer with it for many years until they get around to building a “real” bench.
Truth is, you don’t need a bench to build a bench.
Most of the workbenches I’ve built have been constructed on sawhorses. Start by making the top. Yeah, it’s a bit wobbly on horses, but it works OK. When the top is built, flatten it and attach one of your vises.
Now you have a benchtop with a sawhorse base.
Build the bench’s base on the benchtop. Yeah, it feels a bit like working on a car while the engine is running, but it’s totally do-able. When the base is built, attach it to the top. Flip the puppy off the sawhorses, and you are ready to finish up work on your bench.
This is the exact path I’m following with this small-scale Roubo bench I’m building this week. I finished sizing up the top on Friday, which came out to 4-3/4″ x 19″ x 67″. That’s a little narrower than a modern bench, but I’ve seen older benches this narrow (and even narrower). I will be interested to see how tippy it is (or isn’t).
Today I installed a vintage vise I’ve been hoarding for some time that looks like the vises in old French woodworking catalogs. Ooo la la. I like it. It’s a mite fussy, but it’s cool. Next I’ll install a wooden chop on the vise, drill some dog holes and get to work on the legs.
And then the much-maligned epoxy.
– Christopher Schwarz