After I told Suzanne Ellison that we had 11 different workbenches here at the storefront, she (perhaps calling me out as a liar) suggested we do quick video tours of them. So, with the help of my daughter Katherine, here’s the first one.
This is the so-called $175 Workbench I built for a 2001 issue of Popular Woodworking. This poor bench has seen so many alterations and experiments, I feel bad for it. But the bench has remained a champ, and I still love working on it.
These short videos are a quick tour with my current thoughts on each particular bench. All the benches are in our shop for one reason: They work. People regularly ask me to rank-order the benches I’ve built, from my favorite to the black sheep. That’s not possible because each one of these benches was built to deal with a certain set of circumstances.
The $175 Workbench was built to see how little money it took to make a functioning bench. And to prove that construction timbers are an excellent bench-building material.
Here are some links to items discussed in the video:
Editor’s note: As promised, Christopher Schwarz and I are writing a series of blog entries that explain how we have improved the construction process for “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” during the last nine years (and several hundred chests). But the tool rack discussion isn’t an improvement; it’s an addition. And because the choices on saw storage can affect the tills, I’ve written a bit about them, too.
When Chris and I were discussing what to include in this series, I said, “What about the tool racks?” which he and I do differently. He replied, “The tool rack isn’t in the book.”
You’d think I’d remember that…having read the book a time or two!
So here are our tool racks – in each case, a piece of scrap stock with a series of 1/2″ holes drilled 1-1/8″ on center. They have a bead on the top edge because we’re fancy…and we like our beading planes. Both racks are simply screwed in place on the inside front wall of the chest, which makes them easy to remove if need be for repair or replacement.
But they are slightly different. Chris has a saw till in the bottom of his chest, because a) that’s traditional and b) he has more long handsaws than do I, and needs a place for them in his chest. I have but two panel saws, which are stored on the underside of the lid of my chest at home. (If I need a large handsaw at the Lost Art Press shop, Chris is kind enough to let me use his.) Note: Chris has improved/changed the way he now builds the floor saw till; you can read more about that here.
Chris uses the space between his longer saws to store his shorter backsaws, putting them toe down in between the longer saws. I store mine behind my tool rack, which is bumped out a little bit from the front wall of the chest with some scraps.
So while Chris’s tool rack is about 1″ thick x 1-1/4″ wide, mine’s closer to 1-1/4″ x 1-1/4″, because I need the extra width to catch one side of my saw handles, and have enough room for the holes and handles of the pokey tools that hang in them (chisels, screwdrivers and the like). The little scraps that bump it out from the wall are about 1/2″-5/8″ thick.
Mine is also a bit lower in the chest – at around 8″ – because I needed enough vertical space for the my saw handles. Chris based the location of his off his longest chisel handle (plus an inch or so). Yours should be located based on what you’re going to put in it – not our measurements (though 6-1/2″ to 8″ is a decent starting point).
In the detail shot of Chris’ chest above, you can see a similar setup on the front of his saw till – he added that rack a few years back to hold larger chisels and the like when his front rack got full. It’s a few blocks to hold the tools out from the till wall, with a 3/8″ thick (or so) scrap in front to catch the handles.
The front-to-back depth of the sliding tills is based off being able to fully slide them just past one another so that you can easily access stuff in the lower tills. Because I have no floor saw till for the sliding tills to run into, I was able to make my tills slightly wider than what’s in the book … but I must confess that on my first chest (the one in my basement), I made them about 1″ wider than is ideal. They’re 10″ … because the carcase interior is 20″ front to back. But of course the top one runs into the handles of the tools in my rack, and the middle ones runs into the rack itself. Oops. (Still, it’s not debilitating.) Now, I make the tills about 9-1/4″ front to back, which is only 1/4″ more than what’s in the book. I guess I do that just to be different; it doesn’t gain me much storage!
But as I noted above, Chris has changed the way he builds the saw till, so it now sits just below the runners for the bottom till, allowing him to bring that runner (and the one for the middle till) all the way to the front of the chest.