Thanks to expert mousing and clicking of two readers, you can download free construction drawings of the 2008 version of the sawbench featured here last week.
Louis Bois, the draughtsman who prepared the construction drawings for the “Workbenches” book, and woodworker Mike Lingenfelter have both submitted electronic files that will allow you to easily build this sawbench. Plus, Louis’s file also has plans for a mate for the sawbench – I call it “Little Buddy” – that will nest under the “Skipper.”
Louis’s file is a pdf and can be printed out by a wide variety of free programs, most notably Adobe Reader. Mike’s version is a SketchUp drawing that is actually a 3D model, which allows you to take the sawbench apart and see how it goes together. SketchUp is a free program from Google and well worth the download.
Today I put a couple coats of finish on the sawbench while I was finishing a blanket chest for the summer 2008 issue of Woodworking Magazine. When I cannot spray lacquer (I use an HVLP and solvent-based lacquer), I like to finish projects with a custom mix that is difficult to mess up.
I don’t know where I got the recipe for this finish. Several years ago finishing expert Bob Flexner mentioned in one of his columns that he makes his own oil/varnish blends and his own wiping varnishes – instead of paying extra for some finishing company to do it.
I tried this finish years ago and is has yet to let me down. I wouldn’t use this on a piece of furniture that requires a lot of moisture protection (such as a bathroom cabinet), but it’s great for most things.
Here it is: One-third satin varnish (any brand, just don’t use polyurethane varnish), one-third boiled linseed oil and one-third low-odor mineral spirits. Just pour them all into a mason jar and you are ready to go.
I rag it on and then wipe off the excess. Thin coats work best. If I want to make the surface really tactile, I apply it with a 3M gray pad. Either way, it takes only three or four coats to create a nice warm-colored finish that has a nice sheen. The linseed oil helps bring out the figure in the wood. The varnish gives the wood a little protection. And the mineral spirits makes it easy to apply with a rag.
I sand the finish between the second and third coats with lubricated sandpaper or a sanding sponge – something around #300 grit. Sure, it takes longer than lacquer. But in February, it sure is faster than waiting for a warm, sunny day in Northern Kentucky.
Speaking of warm days, next weekend I’ll be at the Lie-Nielsen Toolworks show in Oakland, Calif. If you want to stop by, I’ll be there only on Saturday (my flight leaves Sunday morning). I’ll be selling books and will give a lecture at 2 p.m. Saturday on workbench design.
As a bonus, you can meet my wife, Lucy, who will be helping me at the booth and offering counseling to any members of the “Wives Against Schwarz” who happen to attend the free (repeat free) event.
— Christopher Schwarz