Workbench: When is it "good enough"?

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  • #16432
    John Purser
    Participant

    I’ve got all the laminations for my workbench done. WHAT a learning curve! I’m happy with how much I’ve learned but now looking back at my work I know I can do much better.

    I have a bias for study, prep, research, and fiddling about in general instead of just going ahead and DOING something. To counter that I’m inclined to accept this is the worst bench I’ll ever make and finishing it as is. Then, after I’ve used it a year or so and know what I want, I’ll go back and build the second worst bench I’ll ever build.

    So my first question is “Does anyone find that to be mentally unsound?” which is usually my first question after deciding on a new course of action.

    Second – When is good enough “good enough”? Specifically I think my bench tops are reasonably well done. Enough to work with anyway. However the aprons and well came out just horribly. I’ve got gaps in the glue in several places and somehow managed to CREATE a twist in one apron while working with flat boards on a flat surface. That there takes some special talent! Given the purpose of the aprons and that they’re thinner than the bench tops do you think I can still work with the twisted one? Would some gaps in the glue laminations (2-4 inches long) make them unusable?

    I know I can’t fix it as I go, that’s not my goal. What I’m trying to do is decide if I have enough to go on with or if I really do need to take a couple of steps back and start again.

    The legs, done last, show a huge improvement over the larger laminations done earlier. There IS a learning curve. But clearly I started out WAY in the valley.

    I’m looking for general guidance here from people with more experience. Accepting and applying it will be all my fault. What do you think?

    John

    John Purser
    Hubert, NC

    #16433
    Mark Armstrong
    Participant

    For the work bench I would not worry too much.If the piece good enough to be functional use it. Bench will get beat up even with the best intension it happens.
    If it was a work piece I would think about doing it again.
    Once your bench up and running you will find it easier to do your work and if at a later date you feel like making another bench I am sure you would do a much better job.

    Dagenham, Essex, England

    #16434
    Ken
    Participant

    I’m with Mark on this one, use and enjoy buddy.

    #16435
    Steve Follis
    Participant

    My first workbench was a an old solid core door propped up on two sawhorses. My second was my first attempt to build one, I was 19 at the time, and I was really proud of what I built. It is now in back of my mother-in-law’s garage, and a bit embarassing to look at how ragged it actually was. My third bench was a store bought bench, that I picked up in trade for a job I did. My fourth and current bench was recently built according to Paul’s design. It has it’s defects, and it is not the prettiest bench to look at, but it is solid, and serves its purpose, and I am very pleased with it. It is a tool, not a piece of furniture (I have to keep reminding myself of that).

    So, my thought is use your bench, knock out some projects, adjust it as needed to make it work for you.

    Oh, and have fun along the way!

    Memphis, Tennessee

    #16437
    John Purser
    Participant

    Thanks guys. Going ahead was my inclination but when I saw the twist I started rethinking things. Nice to have a reality check.

    John

    John Purser
    Hubert, NC

    #16439
    Eddy Flynn
    Participant

    a wise man once said “its not what you make its the way that you make it”. build it and enjoy it good luck mate

    Eddy .. Liverpool, Merseyside, UK
    ,

    #16447
    STEVE MASSIE
    Participant

    I am also building this bench which I think will be fine when I finally can get it finished. My bench is far from stellar but hopefully it will turn out good enough, I have several flaws in the aprons and well board also, having said that I will blame part of it on the HD wood. I don’t have a lot of choice and I spent several hours trying to get the best boards but they are not pretty. I thought I had done a good job on gluing etc. but still have a couple gaps hear and there.

    I hope it goes together OK, if not I don’t have that much invested and will start over as I like this style of bench. If nothing else I did learn a lot and have used nothing more than the tools Paul used. It has been fun but just not happy with the wood, HD buy from different suppliers depending on where you are located. I live in Florida which I love but this is no wood haven.

    Good Luck and hope it turns out OK for you and wouldn’t be overly concerned how it looks as long as it is solid and performs.

    Steve

    Steve Massie, I live in the great State of Florida, US

    #16449
    John Purser
    Participant

    Steve,

    I’m buying from Home Depot as well. The one thing I CAN say for them is at least they let you select your boards. I went to the local guys but when they sell studs it’s whatever is on the top of the pile. A lot of those are fine for studs but had too much wain, too many knots, or just weren’t straight enough for the work bench. So back to HD I went.

    I have found that the quality of HD stock varies WIDELY week to week. Sometimes the 92 5/8″ studs are better than the 8′ studs so if you’re not making an 8′ bench you can substitute. And sometimes pickings are pretty thin. I try to buy what I need and not what they have.

    But a lot of the problems I had with HD stock were simply on me. I didn’t know what I needed or why and I wasn’t that good at picking the best boards. Plus I’d let myself get in a hurry for one reason or another. Now when I go there I shop for boards first. I take my time and if someone else needs to get studs I step aside to let them get theirs and I go back to work culling, taking my own sweet time about it. And I learned to lay my boards down on the floor to see if they lay flat or wobbled. That little trick alone saved me a lot of money and trips back to replace poorly chosen stock.

    John

    John Purser
    Hubert, NC

    #20770
    Ron Harper
    Participant

    I have not always lived up to my Dad’s teaching of this maxim, but as a rule, if you have to ask “is it good enough”, it is not. I do really believe that that mind set is a good one.

    #20771
    Justjoe
    Participant

    “I have not always lived up to my Dad’s teaching of this maxim, but as a rule, if you have to ask “is it good enough”, it is not. I do really believe that that mind set is a good one.”
    I think this really depends on the individual. Some people who are lacking in confidence might not think that there work is good because other people have told them it’s good. But overcondient people could make rubbish and think it’s amazing.

    Lincolnshire, England
    www.joesleightwoodworker.co.uk

    #20773
    Jason
    Participant

    John, my concern is that the twist will make the whole bench twist over time. If it’s extreme, I would remake the apron. If not, I probably wouldn’t worry.

    #20778
    Greg Merritt
    Participant

    It’s a workbench. It needs to be fit for use. Period. Pretty is nice but plays no role for this item. It needs to be solid and relatively flat. Not too long ago I would have said that it needed to be dead flat, but we all know that Paul’s bench isn’t dead flat. Enough said on that. So can you plane it close to flat and make it fit for use? If so, put it to work and use what you have learned to make your future projects better and better.

    http://hillbillydaiku.com

    #20779
    wyattsa
    Participant

    I used HD wood for my bench, purchased 2″ x 12″ SYP boards and ripped them by hand into three boards of equal width. Buying the larger boards made it easier to find clear stock. Nobody, other than my wife, would call my bench pretty. But, it works and is worlds better than not having one.

    #20784
    John Purser
    Participant

    For the record, I redid that one apron that was twisted but in the planing process I found many glue gaps in my laminations and I decided I wanted wider aprons than the 9 1/2 inches I had. So I went back to Home Depot and found some 2X12s that were MUCH nicer than the SPF studs I had been working with for about the same money. Those will be my aprons and well.

    My original bench legs are firewood now. They came out marginally acceptable after glue up but then I started cutting mortise holes in them. HORRIBLE! I turned 3 of the first 4 legs into mortise practice pieces and just chopped one mortise after another through them. I got quite frustrated at this and was in fact composing a “What am I doing wrong” post in my head while I was chopping my 5th practice mortise when I noticed the chisel was behaving just like Paul’s did on the video. I’m still not sure what I was doing differently but now it works and before it did not! Not perfect by a long shot but I can cut an acceptable mortise now with some repeatability.

    Not only did my mortising ability improve, but planing, cutting, and gluing up the new legs went incredibly smoothly. A few months ago I didn’t think I’d EVER be able to make a square cut right where I wanted it. Today I did it 4 times in a row. That’s progress.

    John Purser
    Hubert, NC

    #20786
    Ken
    Participant

    Well done John, the world of woodworking is a fascinating place, is it not.
    Keep it going buddy. 😉

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