With summer fast approaching, I’ve made the decision to hold off on any major furniture projects until the fall. I don’t want to contend with the environment because that’s a fight I cannot win. My garage doesn’t have any real means of climate control, and in the past when I’ve tried to woodwork during the summer months I had to deal with uncontrollable wood movement that nearly ruined the projects I was building, and definitely ruined my good time. But even though I won’t be making furniture I do still have quite a bit of woodworking planned.
The first project I have planned is an easy one. Last fall I started a remodel of our bedroom. We are finally in the closing stages (the harsh winter put a hold on a lot of projects). My wife came to the conclusion that I should put in crown moulding as a finishing touch, and I agree. Rather than purchase the crown, I will duplicate the moulding I installed several years ago in my daughter’s bedroom, which is just a very basic cove and flat trim that I made using a router. It’s easy to install on an uneven plaster wall, and there is no complex sawing involved to get a tight fit, and most importantly, I think it looks nice.
The next projects will be the workshop/garage projects I had mentioned in a previous post. I will start with a recessed wall cabinet that I am hoping will hold any and all of my miscellaneous tools, stains, etc. that I want within reach, but not necessarily in the way. I will then hopefully move on to a low profile wall-hung tool cabinet to hang over the right side of my workbench area. And speaking of workbenches…
I think I may just take the plunge and finally make my new workbench. I’ve been thinking about, and talking about it, and writing about it for the past three months, so it’s probably about time to put up or shut up. I’ve been watching Paul Sellers videos on making a Nicholson style joiners bench for the past few weeks, and they’ve been my inspiration to finally get started. While I like Sellers bench, my design will be closer to the bench of soon-to-be legendary English Woodworker, Graham Haydon. Sellers bench is a little high for my taste, which really isn’t an issue, but his also utilizes an apron that is not flush to the bench legs. While a bench with a wide apron doesn’t really need to have its legs flush to the top to work properly, I would like to use a leg vice, which needs a flush leg in order for it to work. At the same time, I could always use Sellers design and make only the vice leg flush, but I’m not at that point in the design phase as of yet.
Before I go on, I have to say, yet again, that Paul Sellers is clearly the best of the lot in the world of woodworking instruction, and I say that with apologies to several people. The man is a “real” woodworker, and that I don’t say lightly. I’m not going to get into all that much detail on why I formed this opinion, but if you are reading this blog and you’ve never really checked out a Paul Sellers video do yourself a big favor and watch one; there are many free offerings on YouTube. If you enjoy woodworking I think you will be extremely impressed with Sellers’ videos. I like him simply because his bench throws the whole “French” workbench theory on its ear. I have nothing against the French bench (and am I the only woodworker tired of saying ‘French bench’?) But the idea that you need a massive workbench in order to woodwork is completely ridiculous. Does it work? Sure, it’s 400lbs of wood, of course it won’t move. There is nothing special about the design-4 enormous legs with a thick slab of wood sitting on them. The bench that Sellers builds is far better engineered, yet uses less wood and is easier to make. According to Sellers, the bench has been in use in professional English shops for well over fifty years! That’s enough for me.
If I do make the bench, I will make the base first, and that base may just sit for a month or so until I get around to building the bench top. That’s the nice thing about already having a functional bench; I don’t have to rush. I know I’ve said before that building a workbench can be cost both a lot of time and money, and it may be easier in many cases to just purchase a good one and get to making actual furniture. I still feel that is good advice, as long as you can actually afford to purchase a new workbench; I, however, cannot.
So the real question is: Why build another bench when I already have a perfectly good one? Well, I don’t have a good answer for that if you want me to be honest. The stupid answer is that I’ve wanted to make the Nicholson bench for almost four years, and I think that a summer when I don’t plan on making any furniture is a good time to do it. I think it will be the perfect project to either keep me occupied during the summer, or the perfect project to piss me off, or in all likelihood both. Either way, nothing that happens while I’m woodworking surprises me anymore.