Thursday, 10 January 2013

Workshop Activity. Work Bench and Knives.

Here is one of the work benches I make, ready for collection tomorrow. The design has been refined over the years but the last few I've made have all been the same, except for the length. That's a good sign, it means I can't think how to make them any better. See picture at the bottom of this post for an assembled bench.

I like using a wooden screw for the leg vice, it's more work and cost than a simple metal screw but it has a much nicer feel and is less sloppy. I turn the 2 1/2" screw threads using a massive threading tool, it cost me £1,000 from Dieter Schmid in Germany.

I needed to make a left handed knife as part of a nice order for a customer in Northern Ireland, so I made a small batch to make it worth while. I posted the order yesterday in the normal first class post and it arrived today, how do they do that overseas so quickly and cheaply, I think our postal service is very under rated.
I am running low on snake wood and I can't get any more of good enough quality, so I may be replacing my premium knife stock with curly madrone, see the knife at the bottom. It didn't look much until I hit it with a finish and then wow!
You can see from this picture differences between the handles in length and ball size, they came from three different batches and just go to show it's all hand made!

I bought up the last of the Kingwood stocks at Yandles for my mini smoothers as well as some Brazilian Tulipwood which is also running very low. David can't get any more of either wood from any of his suppliers, so I may have to look at alternative woods. I bought the blanks below which were labelled 'wild olive', I don't whether that referred to the grain or the source of the wood. I chose blanks with the grain running roughly vertical and not too wild! I have learnt to treat olive wood with respect, it dries very slowly and has a tendency to check, so these blanks will be put into store for a year at least.It's a very beautiful timber and should make lovely little mini smoothers

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  1. I really like your bench but the shipping to the US would be astronomical. Have you ever considered offering plans or a kits of parts?

    You right about the Royal Mail being under rated. I tell people over here that we used to get mail twice a day and most letters were delivered next day. Over here it takes 3 days to post something 25 miles away.

  2. I did write an article for F&C magazine 3 or 4 years ago but this was before I had settled on the design above. I may look at doing another article later this year, the bench is not complicated, time consuming or expensive to build and it's rock solid. All the best, David.

  3. David, like the look of the bench. What thickness are the legs and what wood would suit such thickness?

  4. Hi, The legs are 4" square pine from a timber yard. You need to let it settle and dry properly for a couple of months and once planed it ends up about 92mm square. It is surprisingly heavy and very sturdy. I treat the knots with shellac and paint with buttermilk milk paint which I think looks good. All the best, David,