Building a Workbench
This is will be the first post of probably hundreds on my new workbench for the hand tool workshop. I’ve taken my Little John bench round there for the time being to allow me to potter and keep busy but it’s surprising how dependable this has become for the main workshop and it’s getting missed. The new hand tool workshop has more space…far more space than what I’m used to and so it’ll be nice to have a longer bench in there and I needed little excuse to build myself one – I’ve been edging to experiment for some time.
The vast majority of workbenches which I’ve built over recent years have been based more or less on the traditional French design; very simple and robust. But for my first on camera build I felt that it’s really got to be English. I’m incredibly fond of this design and it isn’t all just sentiment. There’s much variation of course but the principles at the heart of the benches built in England back in the Golden age of English furniture making are ones which hold particular relevance to my situation and workshop today. If I could sum it up in one word it would be efficiency. Efficiency of labour, materials and even in the end use for aiding work flow and holding. It’s this efficiency in the design which I would like to bring to light and through using it I feel I can best show some of the ways in which I was first taught to use a workbench.
It’s also the only historic bench design where the original materials are still very much relevant to what we can obtain today. The more hefty top of a French bench can be made both beautiful and stable by laminating up many thinner strips but without access to any machines that’s not a job I’d look forward to – it would be a real pain! And the large slabs which would have made sense to use back then would be impractical for me to source or use now.
The 2″ boards for my English bench however should be no trouble to find and so the design will be as relevant for me now as it was in its hay day.
I’ll talk a lot more about the construction methods and usage of this bench as I start bringing my ideas together but I’m aiming to make sure it will suit my situation as best as possible. That will mean a relatively low cost, fast paced build and absolutely no requirement for machines. This will also be a bench that the complete beginner can build and know that they’ll have a solid bench to last them as long as they want.