Lost Art Press, Product Review, Woodworking Videos
Comments 10

I Like ‘The Naked Woodworker’

New Lost Art Press video provides hope for the cash strapped newbie.

Lost Art Press videos often feature lively bluegrass music. The other day I beat my wife home from work; I had the TV going and as she stepped into our family room, bluegrass is what she heard. She asks, “What are you watching?” I reply: “The Naked Woodworker.” She says, “That sounds kind of dangerous.” The visual which then popped into my mind is not one I will share here.

The Naked Woodworker 010a

The title of the latest video from Lost Art Press is The Naked Woodworker with Mike Siemsen. This is not a video filmed at the wood shop of a nudist camp. The idea is the beginning woodworker enters this craft naked: no tools; no workbench.

The goal of this video is to show how a new woodworker can 1), acquire a basic set of woodworking tools; 2), use these tools to build a respectable workbench. And 3), accomplish both in a way which excludes having to borrow money from family and friends. As the video cover says…

With this DVD, you can outfit your shop with everything you need to start building furniture with just $571.

The emphasis here is strictly on hand tool woodworking.

Mike takes us to a Mid-West Tool Collector meeting. I have never been to such a show. That alone made this disk interesting. Mike lets us tag along while he hunts for good quality, low-cost tools. He sifts through a variety of tool types: everything from drill bits to hand planes.

Mike sourcing tools.

Mike sourcing tools.

Mike talks about what to look for when buying used tools and he does not mind picking up a low-cost imperfect tool as long as it can be converted into something usable.

Back in his workshop, Mike begins performing surgery on the tools he snatched up. Tools get oiled, chisels sharpened and planes tuned up. Mike devotes extra time showing the process for sharpening a hand saw; an exercise I have never seen before. Lots of good stuff here.

So, disc 1 = pretty cool. Imagine how much better disc 2 will be because Mike makes the workbench and not just any workbench; it’s a Nicholson.

First though, there is a sawbench to build. This sawbench is like a low sawhorse. Mike’s design is a good one and the sawbench is a worthy first project for the newbie since part layout, fabrication and assembly are covered. The sawbench is also handy to have when building the Nicholson bench.

Mike building the workbench.

Mike building the workbench.

I have written before about my goal of building an old world style workbench. In my quest for the right bench design, I have repeatedly come back to the Nicholson bench. It is historic and relatively easy to build; and building one is a really good exercise for all The Naked Woodworkers among us. I think it would be pretty sweet for a new woodworker to start out with a Nicholson bench (read more about the Nicholson bench here and see images here).

Watching Mike go through the construction process dramatically lowers the intimidation factor which comes from building a large workbench. So as not to give away too much information, I’ll just say that the construction method is easy.

I find it interesting that this bench does not have a vise of any kind. The bench does have a crochet and plenty of holes for peg locations. The video shows Mike planing a board using the crochet and pegs which together provide adequate support.

Disc 2 = Killer.

The Naked Woodworker appeals to me because even though I have been a power tool woodworker for decades, I only recently started using hand tools. In reality, after 30 years, I am a hand tool newbie. There is plenty in this video for me to learn from. In addition, I want a new workbench and Mike makes building a Nicholson bench look down right easy. All of this for $571? Two of my hand planes alone cost more than $571. This is a good video.

A friend once asked me about woodworking: “How do I get started; what do I do first?” I am going to tell him to buy this video.

I bought The Naked Woodworker from the Lost Art Press website. To find out more click here. The package came with two DVD’s (274 minutes of video), a downloadable workbench SketchUp model and a cutlist. Don’t want to wait for the DVD to arrive in the mail? A full digital download option is also available.

Before I forget: Make sure you watch the video all the way to the end. There’s a special treat for you to see. Screenshots from the DVD are (c) 2014 Mike Siemsen.

* * *

New at Jeff Branch Woodworking: I have a new page showing a gallery of my SketchUp models. See them by clicking here.


  1. Here’s the list of scheduled MTC meets: http://www.mwtca.org/tool-meets.html

    Notice they don’t happen very often, or everywhere in the country. The nearest one to me is about a 3 ~ 4 hour drive. At 20mpg and 360 miles round trip, that’s roughly $70 just in gas. Finding quality antique tools locally can be a real challenge.

  2. I recently saw a video on LAP of Schwarz making a knock-down bench and from what I gather he based the design from the bench in the video. I thought it was very impressive. Woodworking is in a state of limbo for me at the moment, but I see myself buying the video.
    Though tools aren’t really an issue for me, a video filmed at a swap meet is a pretty good idea for anybody who has never been to one, which I would bet is a good majority of even experienced woodworkers.
    The bench seems like a good one and one that I would love to build for myself. And becoming a better saw sharpener should be a goal for every woodworker, even one that doesn’t necessarily use a lot of hand tools.
    Great review Jeff!

    • When I shopped for my jointer plane, I did look at a used one. Even used it was a lot of money, and I was uncertain it was trouble free. Buying a used one for little money is something I would try and would be a good way to enter the world of rehabing old tools.

      • I paid $150 for mine, and luckily it didn’t need a great deal of rehab, except for the iron which took quite a while to get in shape. I don’t think it was a bad deal, but I used a LN jointer at the last hand tool event and I have to admit that it blew away my ancient tool, and I’m sure the Veritas tool would probably have done the same. So if I had to do it over again I probably would purchase new. Yet, maybe the experience of rehabbing an old plane was worth the price. It’s a double edged sword I guess, because until a woodworker uses a top quality tool, how would you know what to shoot for when rehabbing a used one?

  3. Check out Patrick Leach’s tool list he updates it monthly but it’s an easy way to get quality tools without traveling to find them.

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