After Six Hours of Bench-building….


John Hoffman and I are at Mike Siemsen’s School of Woodworking this weekend to film the first ever Lost Art Press DVD. This project, which yet to have a title, is basically “Fear and Loathing in Minnesota.”

There has been semi-automatic gunfire, some alcohol and peanut butter on hamburgers.

On Saturday, we took a wad of cash to the Mid-west Tool Collectors Association meet in Medina, Minn., and purchased almost all the tools we needed to build a workbench and a sawbench (we had to buy a couple buckets, a framing square and two clamps at a hardware store). Saturday afternoon we fixed up all the tools to get them into working order – including filing the saws, restoring the planes and sharpening the chisels.

Today, on Mike’s birthday, we filmed him building a sawbench and a 7’-long Nicholson workbench. Mike has figured out some really great tricks to get started with little money, few tools and almost no skills. The bench is almost building itself. I think Mike’s philosophy is going to help a lot of people get started building a bench entirely by hand.

Here’s a quick timeline of the morning and afternoon.

— Christopher Schwarz

An apron at 10:20 a.m.

An apron at 10:20 a.m.

Top boards at 1:43 p.m.

Top boards at 1:43 p.m.

Legs at 1:52 p.m.

Legs at 1:52 p.m.

End assembles at 2:43 p.m.

End assembles at 2:43 p.m.

First assembly at 2:53 p.m.

First assembly at 2:53 p.m.

Bearers at 4:20 p.m.

Bearers at 4:20 p.m.

Beer at 4:33 p.m.

Beer at 4:33 p.m.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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22 Responses to After Six Hours of Bench-building….

  1. Nice days work! But would someone PLEASE take a swipe with a plane to remove the table saw blade mark on the edge of the top in the last photo. I know I have issues, but it’s really bugging me. 😛

  2. I should’ve known. Good job! That’s a really slick way to build a sturdy bench quickly. I have a Nicholson myself, and it’s fairly low, but seeing this makes me want to build one of these strictly for planing and make it about 26″ high or so, with a planing stop. (I’m only 5’7″ and I use wooden body planes)

  3. lashomb says:

    I’ve attended several of Mike’s classes, and have been asking for a workbench class everytime I see his at the M-WTCA meets. He finally did one this year, but I couldn’t swing it schedule wise. Will definitely pick this up, he’s got a great amount of skill and a good dose of pragmatism. Both good traits in a teacher.

    I was at the tool meet yesterday, was pretty surprised to see you there!

  4. Anxiously, awaiting details……

  5. KampWood says:

    Hope you pack long johns man.

  6. coeptus23 says:

    Wow. Six hours for a complete bench build. Not too bad. This seems like a real nice adaptation of a traditional form.

  7. Toby Sauer says:

    Welcome to the frozen tundra. I live in Minneapolis. Been this way most of the winter. 😦 I went thru 5 gallons of kerosene this weekend just to keep my garage at 45. Met Mike at a couple Lie Nielsen events in the metro. Very nice guy.

    • KampWood says:

      I’m jealous you have heat in tour shop. After getting frost nip on my fingers while finishing I no longer go out to the shop in single digits. Its been a long winter out herein SD.

      • Toby Sauer says:

        Finishing is definitely a challenge. I use a kerosene turbo heater wired to a thermostat. works fairly well but can get expensive at 6 dollars a gallon. Stay warm. Nothing to stop the wind out there.

  8. rcjennings says:

    That looks just great – okay when can we order the DVD ?
    but it needs to include a picture of the peanut butter

  9. I built my bench in North Dakota the same way. It went together super fast and was great to work on once the top moved a bit and it had its final flattening. Now, what is the vise selection going to be?

  10. Kevin Thomas says:

    In Missouri we call them Goober Burgers when you put peanut butter on a hamburger. The Wheel Inn in Sedalia, MO is famous for them.

  11. Are plans and cut list going to be posted?

  12. rdwilkins says:

    I’m pretty sure I can accomplish the “beer” portion of the process but I’m not sure about the rest of it.

  13. How is the top attached to the bench? And this thickness is ok for holdfasts? I know theres a lot of hoopla around bench thickness in that regard.

  14. regiswill says:

    I met Mike for the first time at WIA this year and started building a bench when I got home. While I can see that I approached the construction in a different manner than he does from the photos it worked out great and was a quick build which is great for me. I built mine as an 8 foot partners bench and just started working on a portable version. Love the bench and have been showing some friends. Backing up the holdfast holes with some additional 1x or 2x works great for the holdfasts. Most of the recent posts on my blog feature the bench in some way if anyone is interested in photos.

  15. Craig Weston says:

    Will this film also be available for download instead of DVD?

  16. Jeff Faulk says:

    Just a quick question. For those of us who are hearing-impaired/deaf (i.e., me) or who just happen to like them, will there be subtitles or captions available with these? I’ve been making inquiries and finding woodworking DVDs with subtitles is like pulling an elephant’s teeth…

  17. Ken says:

    I like how the side boards support the cross-bearers yet add weight to the bench. I look forward to the next post.

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