53. Q: If I’m not mistaken, Chris has installed the Benchcrafted Retro Classic Vise in the new bench illustrated in the book (“The Anarchist’s Workbench“). Why not the Solo, which I understand would be recommended for a new bench?
A: Chris finds the Retro (shown above) is easier to install. The Solo requires perfectly straight and deep holes, which for many people requires a drill press. So he chose the one that’s easier for beginners or for those without a drill press to install.
54. Q: In Mr. Schwarz’s first workbench book, he states that the stock is cut to rough length and ripped oversize when the stock is first purchased. It is then stickered and allowed to dry for a time before starting the build.
In his latest book, Mr. Schwarz states on pg. 197 that he piles the latest purchase on top of the pile in the basement. When he has a bench-sized pile, he makes a bench.
Is one method preferred over the other? Should the wood dry as full 2x12s and when ready to begin the build, cut the wood to length, rip it a bit oversized and the glue and clamp it up?
A: Both are correct. If he has a bench in mind and knows the rough sizes, he’ll go ahead and rough cut then sticker the stock, and it’ll dry faster. But if not, he’ll buy a pile and let those dry until he’s ready – it takes longer for them to dry that way. But both approaches work.
21 thoughts on “Workbench Questions 53 & 54”
Question #55: what’s the answer to the ultimate question: life, the universe, everything?
Ask Megan. She’s apparently up for this sort of thing
thanks, now i have to watch The Meaning of Life again
That was covered in Question 42 😉
What a deep thought!
Building workbenches makes beer better.
The reader enjoys the third person approach.
Well, since we are on the topic of workbench questions. I understand the recommendation to avoid the very center of the log when building a bench as it will cause it to crack. Does this also apply to boxed heart lumber? I may have a source of some boxed heart 6x6s that I could laminate up for a bench top.
In general, the pith is not your friend. As the stick dries you will almost always get a split. The split might not be fatal. But then again….
I have read that Japanese temple builders use a boxed heart. But they saw a kerf into the pith and then fill the kerf with a softwood. This allows the stick to move without splitting. I have tried this once, and it worked. But it could have been beginner’s luck. And trees are unpredictable and weird, like my second girlfriend in junior high school.
There is no way you had 2 girlfriends in junior high.
Ouch. Kim Shoulders and Kym Harper would disagree!
“Well, I believe in miracles, so it comes to the same thing. Powers of Darkness!”
I installed the retro on my ruobo bench with 5×5 laminated legs. The instructions called for a drill press or a router if I remember correctly. But I found the easiest way to get the looooong mortise for it was to use the dado stack on the tablesaw. I went ahead and just went all the way from the bottom of the leg and did a stop cut. Then I only had the top of the mortise to chop square, but that was really easy. And then glued in a small patch at the bottom (making sure the grain was oriented properly) from scrap and then planed it flush. This was, in my estimation, by far the easiest way to do it. The whole affair took perhaps 15 minutes including setting up the stack. Just throwing that out there if anyone wants a cheat code.
Re: 54, and the cutting, drying and stickering, what’s preferable… my reading of the differences is:
One is a very direct, “I have a plan, I’m going to build a specific bench, and I’ve just pulled the trigger. There’s a timetable. I shall buy, rough mill, allow the wood to acclimate, and go from there.” It’s a very deliberate way to approach a project that is clearly defined, and has a schedule.
The other sounds more like: “I’m going to build a bench at some point, but who knows when. I’ll collect good pieces when I find them, and build a bench when the pile is big enough. There’s no specific schedule, I’ll get there when I get there.”
The second could also be interpreted to be more choosy about the wood, that he’ll collect the good stuff as he finds it, but he’s also pretty clear in his tone in the book that good enough is good enough.
So, if you’re ready to roll, go with the first approach. If you’re in no hurry, and you have the time to let the Good wood come to you, go with the second.
(Obv, I’m not the author, so this is my .02, but either way, as the finished product settles out, you should have something nice in the end either way.)
Which wood is better for the Retro, and which is best for the Solo?
If this is your first time asking the question, see Question #1. If this is your eleventy brazillionth, see Question #52
Better get a bucket.
This ^ was supposed to be a reply to David Schwartz above.
i am building my first workbench right now. entirely by hand due to the global pandemic kicking in while my wood was acclimating but before i could begin to machine it, rendering the shared-machine-shop i was planning to work out of unavailable.
fortunately the anarchist’s work bench was announced during this period. unfortunately it was released after I had already glued the top with too-few clamps (i used what i had and glued them up in an elaborate configuration that allowed me to use the weight of the wood in my favor) and committed to cutting the through mortises (i have some slight gaps 🙁 )
there was some design concessions along the way. there was a lot of sharpening, and a lot of chopping. angst, despair, glee. anyways, i have 4 legs and a top. no glue yet or drawbores and its as solid as a single piece casting. making the stretchers and vice chop on this primitive form before disassembling to re-assemble with the stretchers and shelves.
and i want to say: despite watching endless videos, reading tons of blogs, buying Chris’s other workbennch books… this book still made a huge difference when the chisel had to meet the wood. augering out the perimeter of mortises with a small bit and then chopping wasting out the center was a revelation. as was the woodowl recommendation (i had been using a brace and bit until the book came out, and searching frantically for a 12” brace because 3/4” with the 8 was already so hard that 1” seemed too daunting with my 10”. it really really made a difference and it took me from the “i dont think i’m going to make it, this is never going to materialize” depths of despair to the heights of “i really did this. i made it this far and i am going to finish it and its going to be awesome. and without any of the machinery i had planned on having access to”
so, thank you. it made a big difference (to me)
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