After taking a short break from woodworking, mostly so I can get my yard in some sort of presentable shape (and I’m not finished with the yard, more work to do, sigh), I am starting to seriously think about my next project, a new workbench. In typical fashion, I have been on a super slow shop renovation that will mostly conclude with this new workbench. Past shop updates include a new router table and a new miter saw stand both from 2013, a removable panelled shop wall which serves as a backdrop for my woodworking photos completed in the Spring of 2014, and then the recently completed tool cabinet. Other projects have been completed (like this one and this one) as this series of shop updates have come to fruition which has impacted by shop upgrade schedule.
Finally though, this project is at hand. I say “finally” because I first announced my desire for a new bench in 2014; see the post here and the follow-up post here. In these two posts, I discuss Roubo and Nicholson bench designs. But it is the second post where I discover the Moravian workbench. I attribute Chris Schwarz with bringing this design to my attention. At his blog, he featured a Moravian workbench built by Will Myers; a design which immediately caught my attention (see the Lost Art Press blog post here). I like this design because it is historic; at six feet in length it is smallish, perfectly fitting my available workshop space. And it is also moderately easy to build, but does have through tenons and dovetail joinery in the legs; joinery I have not attempted in a long time.
My version of Myer’s Moravian design will differ in a few ways…
- No leg vise; a metal front vise will take its place
- No tool tray in the bench top; I will use a split top design
- No wagon vise; I’ll use a modern Veritas inset vise
- I’ll add storage via a modern looking cabinet
The image above shows the working design which has been in place for a number of years. But with final planning comes changes. I have begun to source the workbench accessories: the front vise, end vise and at least one hold-down. I want to do this to ensure what has been designed in SketchUp is in fact doable and proper in the real world. For example, I think I have allowed enough room for the vises and enough space between the bench top and the tool cabinet for the hold fast. To make certain these items will work as designed, I prefer to have them in hand so I can verify my design will work.
I purchased a Veritas Hold-Down at my local Woodcraft store, the first item purchased for this bench. I have also purchased the Veritas Inset Vise. I have yet to purchase the front vise due to the cost of my preferred option: a Veritas Quick-Release Front Vise. With the hold-down and inset vise purchased, I have already racked up about $200.00 in cost. The front vise has a price tag of $319.00. So, if I go with that option, the initial cost of the workbench will be more than $500.00 without me buying a single piece of lumber. When I told my wife how much the front vise costs, I got a strong comment in reply; something I won’t share here. 😮
There are less expensive options for a front vise. I have looked at the Woodcraft 10 inch Quick Release Vise (similar to this one) which is on sale for $119.00; a good option and I like the idea of supporting my local Woodcraft when I can, but I really want all my bench hardware to be Veritas.
Here is the current design...
I will have to modify the design of the “gap stop” which is the item in the middle of the workbench top. The front vise will interfere with the left opening of the gap stop, so I suspect, I’ll just fill the first opening with wood.
I still don’t have the wood selection finalized. The illustrations above show an ash bench top and a base made of red oak. The cabinet will be plywood. Ash and red oak was suggested by David Traylor, owner of City Hardwoods in Birmingham. Red oak for weight and ash since it is durable and according to David, easy to work with. But, this lumber choice will likely be too expensive. The Will Myers Moravian workbench was made of what appears to be pine for the base and a second wood for the top which looks like a slab of cherry. I am thinking that the base will be pine and the top will be a wood of contrasting color. Money is an issue now since we are in the early stages of a major master bath renovation which will cost thousands of dollars. So I’m not sure how the cost of lumber will be worked out.
Also not decided is the front vise. I am still thinking about the Veritas Quick Release Front Vise, but the cost is high and the Woodcraft 10 inch front vise is on sale. We will see.
The goal this coming week will be to make the vise selection and choose the lumber species. Construction is still two weeks away since next weekend Jeff Miller will be teaching a chair making class at the Alabama Woodworker’s Guild, an all-weekend class. So a lot going on, but I am excited to say that construction on the workbench is getting close. 🙂