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Should I make my workbench entirely by hand?

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Ttrees

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Do what you like! But I’m guessing someone used a chainsaw and a lorry to get the tree out the woods, so you’ve already used machines
But a chainsaw is a hand tool isn't it, and guessing the lorry wasn't a Tesla self drive either?


I think you're just causing arguments and division between the hand tool and unplugged woodworkers!
:mad:
So there!

(there is no stick out tongue emoji)

Tom
 

DBT85

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But a chainsaw is a hand tool isn't it, and guessing the lorry wasn't a Tesla self drive either?


I think you're just causing arguments and division between the hand tool and unplugged woodworkers!
:mad:
So there!

(there is no stick out tongue emoji)

Tom
:p

Must try harder young man. Though maybe it's not quite the bratty 6 year old tongue sticking out emoji you were after 😂
 

Ttrees

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Ah I seen that one, but it just looks like a cheeky smile to me.
I was looking for the stick out tongue mk2 version, suggesting obnoxious noise and saliva.
While I'm at it, was often looking for the roll around the floor laughing emoji,
and also the skipping around with joy one too.

Can we suggest these to the mods, or is it better to have the ones which can get mistaken for something else?
Sorry Tibi, I'll stop clogging your page already.

All the best
Tom
 

Sideways

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It's like someone going vegetarian - is it because of ethics or you just prefer the flavours.?
No need to seek permission or forgiveness here. You need only answer to your own conscience.
Be happy, have fun, try your best and you'll accomplish something admirable either way :)
 

Jameshow

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I would do what feels most comfortable to you?

By that I mean what skills do you have? I'm happier with a number 4/5 plane and dimensioning timber by hand.

I have cheap pt but find it noisy and pain to use. You may in the other hand be a pro.

Is the bench a item to be made and enjoyed it it own right or a tool for making other stuff???

Cheers James
 

dzj

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For the top, the thickness of individual board is not an issue, but for legs and stretchers (rails) it is.

In no way I want to resaw the 100-130 mm boards to get a thinner board, so I can only reduce the width of boards by using a saw. Some boards would need to get rid of 0.5 - 1.5 cm to get to the desired width. And my question was how many mm should I just plane away and when to take the saw out.
It's not an issue for the legs and stretchers either. You work from a reference surface and once everything is glued up, you plane the
other side flush. Or make 1 of the 2 adjoining members inset like on a leg and apron of a table, or just leave it as is.
As someone said, it's a bench and it's probably not the last one you'll be building.
As for resawing 1.5 cm... Don't. Make a series of crosscuts ~2" apart, ~1 cm deep and then remove the waste with a chisel.
0.5 cm is a job for a scrub plane.
+1 for the thicknesser.
 

johnnyb

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what I reckon is skills in organising a successful project(whatever that is)are equally valid as skills learned by graft.
hand tool working is often so slow that those skills are not developed. skills such as making a cut list picking wood making a rod marking glue up actually completing the project, cooperation
all of these are very important skills and using hand or power are used in every project.
I'm suspicious hand tool only beginners will make a workbench and be so exhausted disheartened whatever that they will never make anything again. which would be a tragedy in itself.
 

hlvd

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Preparing timber by hand is something you have to do in school woodwork class and college as an apprentice, it’s last resort only after that.

Prepare by machine if you’ve got them, and cut the joints by hand.
 

Adam W.

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How about, prepare by hand and learn something about grain and wood as a material ?
 

johnnyb

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as long as you will be as enthusiastic about making stuff after then yes. the trouble is you won't know if you have the legs.
sometimes after a slight cock up I don't want to touch a job. but I have to force myself and usually the problem is a mental one.
 

tibi

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Well, I will try to answer some questions that relate to multiple posts here.

1. Here is my new workshop with my current temporary bench. The small vice is terrible. I like the adjustable board at the end of the top that serves as a planing stop. Still considering if I will mount two vices on my new bench or just a single one and I will build the same planing stop as here.
IMG_0863.JPG
IMG_0866.JPG


2. I do want to do hand tool only woodworking not because I want to leave a small carbon footprint or being Greta's fan, but because of space and noise restrictions. I also like quiet woodworking and want to develop abilities that are more reliant on user's skill than just correct setup of the machine. I do not care if the lorry that brought the wood from the forest to the mill was fuel propelled or it was a Flinstone car knock-off. I like the process of woodworking and I am at no time pressure (except from my wife, e.g. I would rather buy it and have it now and not wait years for you to build it yourself).

3. Here is the plan of my workbench and I also have drawings for each component and subassemblies (glueups)
1636012269660.png


4. Here is the prepared material that I need to mill (two sides by hand, two sides by thickness planer). I will do the base (24 boards) and then do the joinery. After it base is built, I will plane the top boards (15 boards). The rough size of boards is 130x50 mm, will be planed to 120x40 mm or less if they are very bowed, twisted, etc. I am a lefty, so vice positions will be reversed. Material is unsteamed European beech. My only concern is that it might move a lot. It was just a little bit more expensive here than construction fir. I paid approximately 140 Eur for the material. It has been already cut to approximate lengths by a circular hand saw, as I would not be able to rip this by hand from 3m boards that I purchased. Front boards on legs and two boards on top will be made from cherry to give it a color accent.

IMG_0864.JPG


4. My skills with hand planing are getting better. The top row of boards has already one square face and edge that was handplaned by me. First two boards from the left are 4S4 hand planed. Rest is only one face and one edge. Both width and thickness is 2mm more than final dimension, I will plane the last 2 mm off just before making joinery.
 

Ttrees

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Hello again
The first thing I would do is make a pair of parallel straight edges at least as long as the bench top you will be making, shorter will lead to excessive hollowing, if you use it as a pivoting check
as well as visually.
Parallel, so having two edges which can be used as a reference, just incase they take a warp,
flipping one around will show twice the error should it have a bow,
Then you can check things like your bench top for instance, or make one master, since the work wont deflect on the bench, you don't really need that one dead flat.

If you can do that, or if you know you're bench is flat, then the test is if you can match some timbers together standing on edge without a gap (no pressing)
Sounds simple enough, but trouble might appear when more than one face is involved.
In my mind this is where a thicknesser shines, should it be accurate enough to do that test.

Can you achieve this, be it electron power or beans?
You're query wouldn't be of concern to me, as long as it's the most accurate.

I'd sooner focus on technique and all the rest, on a bench you are happy enough to plane on,
as I get the feeling you want this to be a tidy bench, and use the other one for rougher work.

You could do both if you liked, for experience doing heavy dimensioning and to give the thicknesser a break, and just use it for final skims, and see how well you did,
as I'm guessing it has a universal motor.

Personally, I think there is more to be learned when you don't have much material to play with.

Hope that makes sense.
Good luck with the build.

Tom
 

Jameshow

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Wood looks pretty clean and straight I'd not plane it too much but glue up and plane the top flat.

I'm just getting ready for tonight's woodworking programme though....🤣🤣🤣
 

tibi

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Hello again
The first thing I would do is make a pair of parallel straight edges at least as long as the bench top you will be making, shorter will lead to excessive hollowing, if you use it as a pivoting check
as well as visually.
Parallel, so having two edges which can be used as a reference, just incase they take a warp,
flipping one around will show twice the error should it have a bow,
Then you can check things like your bench top for instance, or make one master, since the work wont deflect on the bench, you don't really need that one dead flat.

If you can do that, or if you know you're bench is flat, then the test is if you can match some timbers together standing on edge without a gap (no pressing)
Sounds simple enough, but trouble might appear when more than one face is involved.
In my mind this is where a thicknesser shines, should it be accurate enough to do that test.

Can you achieve this, be it electron power or beans?
You're query wouldn't be of concern to me, as long as it's the most accurate.

I'd sooner focus on technique and all the rest, on a bench you are happy enough to plane on,
as I get the feeling you want this to be a tidy bench, and use the other one for rougher work.

You could do both if you liked, for experience doing heavy dimensioning and to give the thicknesser a break, and just use it for final skims, and see how well you did,
as I'm guessing it has a universal motor.

Personally, I think there is more to be learned when you don't have much material to play with.

Hope that makes sense.
Good luck with the build.

Tom
Thank you Tom for your reply. I have flattened my current bench three months ago so that I can start with this new bench build. I currently have a 2.5 m aluminium straight edge that I used when building my workshop. This will be my straight edge that I will use for planing the top. My current bench is only 1.5m long, so 0.5m will overhang. I would need to use clamps and plane the top boards in sections. I will test them against each other and plane off the high points.

My current planing procedure is that I plane the center part off, i.e. outer perimeter of the face must be higher than center. then I will try to plane off the edges, but not overdo it so that center is higher than the perimeter. So my board is considered to be flat, when it is tiny hollow in the center, i.e. lower in the center than on perimeter. The same applies to edge jointing. Straight edge must not pivot, so that I can clamp the boards together and ends will not part.
 

ian33a

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With my bench, I could probably have developed the skills with hand tools but, because I had the planer/thicknesser to do the job, I saved myself a load of time and, quite probably frustration, by using it when possible. I also used my track saw to cut the materials and my routers to form the joints.

If I look back now, would I have been more satisfied by using hand tools? most probably not. Do I feel like I cheated by using power tools? certainly not because I used the tools that I had and which suited the skills that I wanted to develop - I also think I would have been less pleased with the result had I used hand tools right through.

All of that said, do what you feel suits your needs, ambitions and capabilities.

20210605_123614.jpg
 

Blaidd-Drwg

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Hello,

I would like to become a hand tool only woodworker and I am currently building my first workbench.

As I have a thickness planer I am deciding if I should build my workbench only with hand tools or I should take a shortcut and use a thickness planer for the opposite face and edge. I have 48 meters to plane with a hand plane ( the sum of lengths of boards only, not sum of board length x 4 sides), and I have done 80 cm so far (two boards maybe in 2-3 hours).

If I do it by hand tools, i might learn a lot more about correct planing ... new heurekas, etc. , but it will be a donkey work and take much longer. Is there anyone who has built his workbench with hand tools only? I am not time restricted, but hopefully it will not be a whole year of planing.

Another issue is sawing. My rough boards are 50 mm thick. Top is 2 m long. Legs and long stretchers are 0.8 - 1m long.At the thickness of 50 mm, how many mm would you remove by planing and how many would you use saw instead? What is the borderline for you?

Thank you.
I built one bench (my very first) with both power and hand tools and then my second was just hand tools. I was very glad to get my first one finished, just so I could start other projects. My second took quite a bit longer but I value the muscle memory I gained in using the hand tools necessary to do it. If I had to do it over again I would still use power tools on the first one just so I had a working bench to use (even though I no longer have any of those power tools as I've gone almost solely hand tools).
 

heimlaga

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I planed a lot by hand before I could afford a secondhand planer/thicknesser. Because that was what I could afford to do. It was doable but the problem was that I spent so much time planing that I just couldn't possible make the stuff I wanted to make. There wasn't time enough.

We need to remember that pure hand tool work was in an era when lots of things were different.
A joiner usually worked in his own kitchen by the light from the open fire except for those few hours a day when there was some daylight coming in through single glazed windows covered by a thick layer of ice and condensation. In our modern world that would be a serious fire hazard but in a time when someone was in the kitchen which was often the only heated room all day and night looking after the fire it was significantly less of a fire hazard than it would be today.
Back then most joiners would also have either an apprentice or a son or a farmhand or even his wife helping him to and fro with less qualified parts of the job. You had to be two persons to use the big scrub plane efficiently. One pushing and one pulling. Without a helper you couldn't prepare stock fast enough even by the standards of the time.
Timber was cheap and plentiful and people were very good at planning ahead. Materials were often selected in the woods and either sawn or split and hewn (pit saw blades were costly) to roughly suitable dimensions for the purpose in mind and then dried. Therefore there wasn't that much need to resaw timber. If a boaŕd was too thick it was very often hewn thinner with an axe as the material was cheap while bow saw blades and files were expensive and not to be worn more than necsessary. Most woodland was village commons where any villager could take as much as he needed and there was timber enough for everyone. Only the straihtest and most easily worked timber was chosen for joinery. Straight timber with smooth grain is much faster to work.
People were skilled with axes. Honestly how many of you would think of crosscutting a 6x12 inch beam square and smooth with an axe just to save wear on the saw blade. Or to hew away the waste from the round side of the last board to come out of a log just to save wear on the valuable pit saw. In the past that was just a normal everyday occurance at any construction site or any shipyard and many joiners dabbled with some house or ship carpentry or boatbuilding in the summer months. The axe and chopping block were just as important parts of a joiner's workplace as were the workbench and the long plane.

Theese facts hold true in Finland and most of Sweden but I rekon even in Britain things were very different 200 years ago.
 

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