Woodworking and Hibernation

The present economy has exacted a heavy toll on many small businesses, and my woodworking business is no exception.  At the present time my business is in what I can only describe as a state of hibernation – very quiet (and currently unable to respond to clients) but still alive and well.  Because my shop (and its contents) are not covered by commercial insurance during this time of hibernation, I unfortunately cannot create any items and offer them for sale, though I continue to offer some “pre-hibernation” items for sale through the League of NH Craftsman’s shop located in Concord, NH.

Although my business is in hibernation, my interest in woodworking is alive and well and I am using this time of hibernation to renew and revitalize my future plans for woodworking. During the next year (hopefully not much longer!) I hope to spend some time focusing on design issues and how craftsmen of the past were able to create designs that continue to be the foundation of good furniture even to this day.  I am also in the process of re-structuring (i.e. cleaning out!) my workshop and re-working how it functions (retaining only the tools I actually use) so as to best serve my clients in the future.

As part of this process, this weblog is becoming a replacement for my former traditional website “scblanchard.com” (online only until December 31, 2011) and I will continue to develop this site in the coming months.  As I become more familiar with the weblog process I hope to add additional posts to this site describing my discoveries about design, progress on changing my workshop, and other items of interest while I look forward to a more active “Spring” following this time of hibernation.  Thanks for visiting my weblog.  I hope to offer much more in the not too distant future!

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6 Responses to Woodworking and Hibernation

  1. Joel Bigelow says:

    Measured drawings for the shaker workbench?

    • Joel, Unfortunately, I don’t have any specific drawings for the bench. I essentially started with the overall measurements from the Landis book (see the category “Workbench”) but had to scale down the length and depth a bit for my space. In general I think it is best to determine the size of a bench from the kinds of work you intend to do, the amount of space available, and the height that works for you and proceed from there.

      I can tell you a bit about how the bench is constructed which might be of help. For the most part the construction follows the measured drawings in the Landis book, but I opted for knock down joinery wherever possible. The two ends are frame and 3/4″ plywood 26″ deep and 31″ high with ~4″ square corners. These attach to the cross members at the top and bottom both front and back using bolts and “captured” nuts in the cross members to make a frame that is ~76″ long (sort of like Lie-Nielsen benches – I think you can find a photo on their website.) A plywood panel (grooved to look like horizontal pieces of lumber) sits in dados to make the back.

      The drawers and doors are a completely separate plywood “box” that is fitted tightly into the opening just before the bolts are tightened down from the ends. The drawers are mounted with full extension slides (Lee Valley) for ease of use. It is pretty standard dado, glue and nail construction just like a kitchen cabinet unit might be done.

      The top is 4″ thick at the front (for the bench dogs), changes to ~3″ thick for about a foot back, and finally to 2″ thick at the back more or less like the top in the Landis drawings. Mine is 32″ deep and 106″ long. I did, however, make it in two sections (front and back) that are attached by bolts in slots under the top and aligned by a tongue and groove joint. I intended to make the top one piece, but found that it was going to be so heavy as to be dangerous to even slide around and get in position. It seemed that if it ever got loose while positioning it I would loose all control and might get crushed by the weight if it slid off the frame. It is attached from the frame from below with some lag bolts in elongated holes to allow for movement at the back.

      The vise to the right is from Lie-Nielsen more or less installed per their instructions, and the one on the left is a Lie-Nielsen screw and a Bench-crafted criss-cross. (I retrofitted this in about 6 months ago to avoid the adjustments that the older type vise required for each thickness of wood to be clamped.)

      If you are interested, I could supply a few rough sketches of the joinery to show some additional details (if I can remember how they went together!) I tend to do something like this mostly relying on past experience and just work out the details as construction proceeds.

      You might also want to check out the Bench-crafted site where they have plans for a somewhat similar bench. Theirs isn’t quite as faithful to the original though I suspect it is just as functional. They have full plans for that bench and I thought the overall construction had much to commend itself. (Unfortunately it wasn’t available at the time I was making this bench, otherwise I might have considered some of their plans and joinery.)

      I’d be glad to try and answer any specific questions if that would be helpful. Because of some pressing extended family issues (aging parent) I’ve not been able to devote much time to woodworking this year, so any response might not be immediate, but I could also provide some closeup photos to elaborate on the above. I hope this helps even if measured drawing aren’t available. I’m not sure where you are located, but if you are nearby, I would be glad to show the bench to you. Thanks for your interest.


  2. Joel Bigelow says:

    Thanks for your help! I have purchased the Bench-crafted plans and the Landis book. My woodworking to has evolved more towards hand work as I have no interest in commercial activity. Power tools for straight and flat. Just making what my wife wants and items for my children so no deadlines to meet. I would be interested in your thoughts about having a twin screw vice for a front vise and any sketches you have time to provide. Thanks again, Joel

    • Joel,
      For some reason, WordPress isn’t notifying me of new posts such as yours, so my apologies for the long delay in responding. I think the choice of vice depends more on what you are doing and personal preference than anything. You might find some comments (if I remember correctly) on the blog at LostArtPress.com. I can’t reference one post as the comments were scattered among a lot of posts. Installation of one would be dependent on the bench you have and the manufacturers suggestions. Lie-Nielsen offers one at http://www.lie-nielsen.com/vise-hardware/chain-drive-vise-hardware/ along with an instructions link. I think the bench crafted site has something similar. Any sketch I could make might not apply to either your bench or the specific hardware. Mostly its a matter of selecting one that you could use on your bench, and (if not built) making any changes before building that would be needed to accommodate it. Hope this helps, at least somewhat.

  3. Joel Bigelow says:

    Thanks for all your help. I have a pretty good idea of how I want to proceed. I just have to summon the courage to start and not worry about being perfect.

  4. Pingback: The Best Laid Plans… | Stuart C. Blanchard

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