At long last, Megan Fitzpatrick (shown actual size in the photo above) and I began work on a new workbench for Woodworking in America. We’re building this one from Eastern white pine timber left over from a log cabin that was built 10 years ago.
These six hunks of pine were kiln-dried then sat in a covered shed, where they checked a bit, gathered a bunch of spiderwebs and became covered in dirt.
Megan (who is really quite tiny as you can see in the photo above), snagged the entire lot for $100 after spotting an ad on Craigslist.com.
After bringing these boards into the shop and running some of them down to experiment with the material, I’ve become convinced that log home supplies might just be an excellent source of lumber for a workbench.
This week I chatted with a salesman from Discount Log Home Supplies
in East Canton, Ohio, about getting some prices for “cants,” which are squared-off timbers. This company sells several species, though the Ohio yard stocks Eastern White Pine, which has been kiln dried to 11-15 percent. It comes rough-sawn and is basically No. 2 common.
After some calculations, I figure than an 8′ Roubo-style bench would require about 104 board feet of 5″ x 5″ x 8′ boards, plus about 21 board feet for waste. The company charges 85 cents a board foot plus the trucking charge ($1.75 a loaded mile).
In the end, it would cost us about $160 to $170 for the material for a single bench.
That is not bad, considering that the top will be made of four pieces and there are no other glue-ups.
I was so encouraged by this that I asked Kelly Mehler at the Kelly Mehler School of Woodworking
if I could teach a workbench class in 2011 using these massive timbers as the raw material.
And I think he’s game.
Today Megan (my foul-mouthed featherboard) and I sliced into the material after tuning up our massive Grizzly band saw (a fine bear it is!) and knocking down the six slabs into manageable pieces that we could wrestle through the bear.
As the dirt, spiderwebs and checks dropped away, Megan and I could only “ooh” and “aah” at this beautiful and massive material. This is going to be a fine-looking bench.
More details tomorrow. Now I need a massage.
– Christopher Schwarz
Other Workbench and Vise Resources
– You can pre-order my new book on workbenches titled “The Workbench Design Book
,” which features a French design much like the one we’re building here. If you order it now, you’ll save 20 percent. Here’s the link
to our store.
has a new version of its awesome tail vise. Plus new instructions you can download from the company’s site.