I have been on vacation this week and was able to get some good shop time in both yesterday and today. This enabled me to complete the new workbench for my basement workshop. This bench is an adaptation of a design by Josh Finn which was featured in Fine Woodworking’s winter 2008/2009 Tools and Shops edition (see the Josh Finn Fine Woodworking article here). The final size of my bench is six feet long and about two feet wide.
I sort of wish I had built a killer, traditional style workbench. You know the kind, one with a tail vise and an old world look to it. My new workbench is just not anything impressive to look at. But the twin box beam design has already been handy. See below:
In the photo above, I am cutting a 4×8 sheet of homasote. My shop is not set up to safely handle a full sheet of this on my table saw, so I have to make initial cuts using my circular saw. In the photo, I have moved the box beams apart to allow clearance for the saw blade – something that I would have to fuss with using my old sawhorses and something that wasn’t easy to do on my old workbench.
A word about Homosote
This is the first time I have used this material. Josh Finn’s plans called for a layer of this on top of the box beams. Although I have not yet tested this out for myself, homasote is supposed to have holding power to the point that you could put a board on it and sand it or plane it without using any hold downs. Pretty cool. However, this material is not so cool to work with.
I have seen blown insulation that is a paper product. Homasote resembles blown insulation when cut, and in my case, it was blown all over my shop. Homasote takes a nice edge when cut on my table saw, but I like to use a process of slightly cutting the material oversize and then using a trim router and making it all flush. When I did this, this stuff got everywhere. At one point, my shop vac got stopped up with it. I swept and swept and swept this dust (it is not really dust, but rather dust bunny’s that rolled around on my shop floor), but I would always find more. If you step on it with tennis shoes, you’ll find it all compacted in the bottom of your shoes.
Homasote is light weight which is good, but it compresses pretty easily. I had one of the box beams clamped down as shown in the Fine Woodworking article and my clamp left a indentation in the homasote surface.
I will be giving my old New Yankee Workshop workbench to my dad. He will find it useful for his woodcarving projects. I’ll write future posts about the creative uses of my new Josh Finn workbench.