Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 21

Thread: My New English Workbench: The Official Tour

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    3,659

    My New English Workbench: The Official Tour

    I more or less finished this bench this past week, and am thrilled to finally be able to show it off. As is likely apparent from the photos this is my take on Chris Schwarz’s English/Nicholson Workbench. I also included components inspired from others who have built this bench (e.g. Bob Rozaieski and Mike Siemsen), and added a couple small twists of my own.
    IMG_0239.JPG
    The bench is 66” long by 20” deep and a bit under 34” tall. This was the largest I could fit in my VERY small workspace. It’s made mostly from Southern Yellow Pine, the vast majority of which is recycled. I’m not sure what the legs are made of, other than to say they’re softwood and the back legs are a different species than the front. They came from two large old beams I found at the recycled lumber dealer.

    The top was cut from a huge laminate beam that was given to me by a friend of mine. The story is that that it came off an old church that partially collapsed after someone accidently ran a truck into it. The only new lumber I bought for this project were the 2by12s usde for the aprons and the 8/4 maple used for the vice chops and the planing stops.

    Now for the work holding

    1. The front vise is a slanted leg vise. It’s amazing! It’s rock solid and the clamping capacity is huge (can cover 8” to the right of the screw). The picture shows a 10” wide board clamped in it. I had considered making a twin screw vise instead, but MAN am I glad I went with this.
    IMG_0249.JPG

    2. The end vice is a small Groz Rapid Action Vise that I got from Woodcraft. I extended the bench top past the aprons by about six inches so I could mount the vise as close to the edge as possible and thereby minimize racking when using my dog holes, which I also put as close to the edge as possible (centers are 2” from the edge). This is really great for any kind of fenced joinery plane.
    IMG_0272.JPG

    3. Hold fast holes… Simple and effective…. Nuf said.

    4. Even though I have an end vise, I really like using planning stops, particularly for thin stock, which I use quite frequently. So like Bob Rozaieski and Mike Siemsen I decided to make a split top bench with removable planing stops. The stops are notched so the I can flip them over and have them fill the gap in the top while sitting just below the work surface.
    IMG_0257.JPG

    A small, but significant, adjustment I made was to use 8/4 stock for the stops. Why? Well the one disadvantage of the large aprons on this bench is the ability to use F-clamps to clamp things to the top. Yes, holdfasts are great, but sometimes you just need a clamp. By using 8/4 stock for the planing stops I was able to have a gap in the top that was just the right size for most clamps and thus was able to mostly overcome the this issue with the aprons.

    IMG_0262.JPG

    And finally… what workbench thread would be complete without the obligatory shot of one’s favorite planes and handsaws laid out on the bench in completely unrealistic way (aka: the stealth gloat).
    IMG_0255.jpg

    Anyway, I’ve only just begun to break this thing in, but I can tell you that so far it has exceeded my hopes and expectations every respect. I can’t wait to put it to more use. If you’ve thinking about building a workbench, I highly recommend that you consider “putting some English on it.”


    Cheers!

    Chris Griggs
    New Orleans, LA

  2. #2
    What fun. Great looking bench.
    “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” -- George Orwell


  3. #3
    Looks good! I'm currently pondering something similar. Glad to see the occasional non-Roubo.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Suffolk County, Long Island NY
    Posts
    1,114
    Chris, thanks for sharing! this is the exact bench I want to build after seeing it on Bob R's podcast.

  5. #5
    Great job on your bench. I love mine and consider it the best bench style out there for many reasons.
    Mike Siemsen

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Williamsburg,Va.
    Posts
    10,170
    Does the top slide open? The English benches in the cabinet shop in Williamsburg have a section of the tops that slide open,revealing a tool till beneath.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    3,659
    Thanks for the compliments everyone! I hope it gives others contemplating bench builds some idea's of their own.

    Quote Originally Posted by george wilson View Post
    Does the top slide open? The English benches in the cabinet shop in Williamsburg have a section of the tops that slide open,revealing a tool till beneath.
    Nope, top doesn't open up. That would be pretty sweet though. I don't really like tool trays, but one that was covered by the top itself would probably be to my tastes. Out of curiosity, how were those constructed?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Siemsen View Post
    Great job on your bench. I love mine and consider it the best bench style out there for many reasons.
    Mike Siemsen
    Thanks Mike. As I said in the original post your bench was definitely an inspiration for me. Minnesotans must think alike (I grew up in St. Paul).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    Posts
    615
    Nice job, Chris. The angled geometry must have added an extra bit of challenge, eh?

    Mike

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Williamsburg,Va.
    Posts
    10,170
    On the sliding top,a board in the middle of the bench,in 2 pieces meeting in the center of the bench,If I recall,can slide lengthways,revealng a till below. It always seemed to me that the till would be unhandy to try to open with stuff on the bench top.

    That's how they made the English style benches in the Anthony Hay Cabinet Shop in Wmsbg..
    Last edited by george wilson; 03-15-2011 at 2:23 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Stony Plain, Alberta
    Posts
    2,698
    Real nice job on the bench Chris..

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Saratoga Springs, Utah
    Posts
    806
    Nice Bench!
    Sawdust is some of the best learning material!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    3,659
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Peet View Post
    Nice job, Chris. The angled geometry must have added an extra bit of challenge, eh?

    Mike
    A little bit of an extra challenge yes, but really, that part wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. It's really no different than sawing square, just different layout. The legs are slanted at about 15 degrees off of 90, but I tried not to get wrapped up in the specific geometry. Rather, I was just very careful that the angle I cut the legs to matched on all fours legs; I marked all four legs out together before doing any cutting. For any other components (e.g. tenon shoulders on long stretchers) I just made the angles matched the previous angles I had cut on the legs. I didn't get it perfect and do have some gaps, but overall dealing with the angles is a lot easier than it seems.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Pleasant Grove, UT
    Posts
    854
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Griggs View Post
    Anyway, I’ve only just begun to break this thing in, but I can tell you that so far it has exceeded my hopes and expectations every respect. I can’t wait to put it to more use. If you’ve thinking about building a workbench, I highly recommend that you consider “putting some English on it.”


    Cheers!

    Chris Griggs
    New Orleans, LA
    Sacrebleu!!! Eeet ees sacrilege! Monsieur Roubo is spinning in his grave! An English bench in New Orleans?!!

    Beautiful bench, make sure you do an followup after you've got a few projects using it under your belt. I love that you angled the legs, that's one thing about the NickelSchwarz that I really like. The aesthetic of it just tickles my fancy.
    It came to pass...
    "Curiosity is the ultimate power tool." - Roy Underhill
    The road IS the destination.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Ellsworth, Maine
    Posts
    1,437
    Very nice bench, a style that I think I'm going to settle on. I've just not decided between this and the Roubo yet but am leaning toward this one. What did your bench top end up finishing out to in thickness? That is my only concern with this bench.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    3,659
    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Shea View Post
    Very nice bench, a style that I think I'm going to settle on. I've just not decided between this and the Roubo yet but am leaning toward this one. What did your bench top end up finishing out to in thickness? That is my only concern with this bench.
    Thanks Tony! My top ended up being somewhere between 2 1/8 & 2 1/4 thick. The huge beam that we got it from was actually 5 inches thick but only about 15 inches wide so a friend with a bandsaw resawed it for me into several thinnner pieces. I was hoping to get closer to 2 1/2 inches out of it just for the sake of logenivity (from repeated flattening), but functionally the thickness is really good. Plenty strong enough and a good thickness for holdfasts.

    Also, just some food for thought. Before I got the beam I had been planning on just using 2x12s laid flat to make the top. At one point I emailed the Chris Schwarz to ask him about the best way to make it thicker. He said that for this bench there was no need to make a Roubo style laminate top and that if he were to build it again he would just face glue two layers of the 2by boards.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Sanford View Post
    Sacrebleu!!! Eeet ees sacrilege! Monsieur Roubo is spinning in his grave! An English bench in New Orleans?!!

    Beautiful bench, make sure you do an followup after you've got a few projects using it under your belt. I love that you angled the legs, that's one thing about the NickelSchwarz that I really like. The aesthetic of it just tickles my fancy.
    Well there's quite a bit more English than French in me. Besides in a year or two, the bench (along with me, my fiance & our two cats) will be moving northward (near Philly) to be closer to her family. So Mr. Roubo and New Orleans will just have to deal with it until then!!!

    and oh yeah, I'll be sure to post an update once I break in it.
    Last edited by Chris Griggs; 03-17-2011 at 6:32 PM.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •