67 comments on “Workbench: Episode 3

  1. Excellent. Felt a pulse of excitement when you got thru that first mortise. Great tip on the knot at the end. I’ve never seen that done before. Only here will you find techniques and tips so valuable. Woodworking Master Classes is the best. Thanks.

  2. Wow. So nice to see this done without expensive machine tools. I can see that a press drill would have made the job quicker, but i have to admire the chisel only mortice cutting technique. As i need a serious bench, myself, i will definitely follow this series for my own build. I MAY make a modification, only in that i don’t think i will require a well board. Probably just a flat top will be all i need.

    Thanks for making all this content… and free to boot!

  3. Hi Paul,

    I built a bench using your original series of videos. I still like to watch you working but it’s a pity about the echoey sound of your new ‘garage workshop’ unlike your older vids..

    I’ve enjoyed working on my bench for some time now and can confirm that it is a great bench to work at for hand tool woodworking, which I love as you do. I’ve felt that love for almost 60 years since my first pencil box which I made in my school woodworking class. I’m glad that you noted that it takes about half an hour per mortise as that was almost how long it took me to complete mine when working on the bench, which I thought was rather slow. It was a great sense of achievement when I finally worked on my first piece of timber on the bench holding it in the refurbished 9″ QR Woden vice I had around. Keep up the good work.

  4. I built mine using the first set of videos as well but am still watching as I know other little tips n tricks will come up along the way, such as dealing with the knot squarely in the way. Very nice solution!

    The other thing is I notice your using 2×6’s for this bench. I used 2×4’s for my cross rails based on the first video series. Did I screw up? Mine seems sturdy enough but the use of 2×6’s seems better both in strength and appearance.

    Love your videos and expertise that you pass along!

  5. Thanks, Paul. I have been following and enjoying your work since I met you at a woodworking show in Fort Worth Texas a few years ago. I hope to some day build this bench when I get the time. Keep up the good work on keeping hand tool woodworking alive and well.

  6. Dear Paul and team, thank you so much for this. I hope to be in a position in about five months time to make my/this workbench and set up a permanent work area (albeit a small one). I’m think of putting my bench on castors that can be raised so I can move it easily to one side when not in use (I suppose that makes it a semi permanent work space). I’m loving the videos and it’s great that they are not too heavily edited, the part where Paul says ‘Am I biting the dust?’ had me grinning from ear to ear. Like you say, ‘Real Woodworking.’

    The tips at the end about working with knots and loose ferrules, invaluable! Thank you!

    • I am new to woodworking and building my first workbench. I purchased casters that will allow me to raise the bench also. Found two clues on line in that regard: 1. Not to use the screws that come with the set, but rather use 1/4 inch wood screws and drill the holes in caster mounts to fit. It seems that some people find the screws that come with casters are not sturdy enough. 2. Rather than having to lift the bench while using their foot to push each cater down individually, someone suggested attaching a metal bar across the end casters. Then one step allows you to raise both casters on one end at one time. I am going to give this a try.

  7. Once those are cut, are you leaving them like that? What I mean is, you’re not “cleaning up” the interior sides of those mortises? I feel like there’s about 1 minute missing in the video to show the finishing touches on them, but maybe that’s it? ie: they’re not dovetails and don’t need to be smooth on the inside walls. thanks!

    • Usually mortises don’t get cleaned up at this stage–if need be, it’ll be at the stage of joining tenons.

      Just a quick cleanup with the sides of the chisel is enough–the rule is that the chisel has to travel somewhat freely and at the meantime stays in the mortise and not fall down from the mortise with the gravity pull. I think Paul showed some of these techniques in the paid membership videos at woodworking masterclasses classes (I highly recommend subscribing to.)

      Cheers

  8. I came across 2 ten foot lam beams made from 2x6s. I had them cut in half and thought I could use a couple five foot sections to make a bench top. Any reason not to? Also, is there anything I can should be thinking of as I install my old Richards Wilcox vise? Thanks!

    • Hello Bill,
      Paul’s benchtop is 2 3/8″, so whether your 2x6s are suitable depends on their thickness. It might well work for the apron. Paul’s stock for this was 1 5/8″.
      I think the fitting of the vise will be very similar to the vise Paul is using. There amount you need to pack it out may vary, but that is straight forward.

  9. Hi Paul, greetings from central Wisconsin USA! I am retired after forty years as a Journeyman Carpenter and I have been watching your videos for some time now. I have to say, I have found something new and interesting with each and every one. I am working on my second bench using your methods and enjoying it immensely. My very best wishes to you and yours for this holiday season and beyond!

  10. Hi Paul, nice work cutting out the mortise. Would you normally use a bevel edge chisel to cut out mortises this deep or was this done to show that minimal amount of tools can be used? I don’t own any mortise chisels but I suspect they would make for quicker work chipping out all the those ‘nuggets’.

  11. I have nearly finished my bench build, bit of a hybrid from Paul’s earlier bench and the 21st century one. Glad to see the same things happen to a pro as happened to me. Things falling over all the time and clamps crashing to the floor.

    One thing I wish I had practiced more before building was the sharpening of tools … I had really cheap chisels (think I bought them from Screwfix 10 years ago) and they didn’t hold an edge, which made it much more difficult. I bought an inexpensive set of Narex and they are brilliant compared to my previous ones.

    Anyone can build a bench, you don’t really need to worry about mistakes as its a workbench, not a piece of fine furniture. I say go for it!

  12. Paul, I have used your mortise technique for timberframing and must admit that the mortise is just as fast and more accurate being cut by hand rather than with either a brace and bit or a chain mortiser. It is quite amazing how well it works.

    • If you are using dimensioned lumber like I am you will have to laminate your bench legs to dimensions you choose. Remember to make adjustments to the overall length of the rails as well as the tenons and mortises based on the size of your legs. Here Paul used solid wood for his legs, if you choose dimensioned solid wood you will have to make adjustments based on the wood you are able to acquire. You will also have to make adjustments elsewhere like in the apron dado (housing) for the leg + wedge width. I suggest printing out Paul’s plans and making measurement notes on his drawing based on the material you have available to you once they are cut and planed to size.

      • Impulsive sounds are the most dangerous for your ears. Your body has a natural reflex to prevent loud sounds from damaging your ears. You can recognize this when you leave a loud place and you can’t hear anything outside, but just a few minutes later you can hear again. It takes a few seconds for your ears to engage the natural reflex and some longer time to relax again. This protection is best for continuously loud places (ie, bars). However, impulsive sounds are too quick for your ears to engage the natural defense, even if they are successive and long in duration. This leaves your ears exposed to high sound levels without the natural defenses.

        Wear your hearing protection….

        • I should add that this protection only lasts for a few minutes as your ear muscles get fatigued and then relax again once more. At this point, you risk further damage to your ears if you remain exposed to loud sounds for long durations.

          OSHA in the USA has good recommendations for daily exposure to sound that protect workers who are exposed to loud sounds for days months or years of continuous exposure.

    • I too was concerned about this, not least because they bothered my son (who doesn’t like loud sounds made by someone else ;)). I tried to make some changes to how I was chopping the mortises, and I found these to be helpful:

      – anchor the piece solidly to the bench to allow a lot of the sound to be absorbed by the sheer mass of the bench
      – sharpen often – a mildly dull chisel will require a heavier blow
      – take a smaller “bite” – 2mm works well for me
      – use the soft face of the hammer – a last resort, as it slows down your work

  13. Paul and team–just wanted to say that the production quality of your videos continues to improve. I really liked the ending sequence here with Paul narrating while showing the other mortise cuttings. Cool that he even included a few seconds on having to repair the ferrule of his chisel. These are great!

  14. Hi,

    Paul notes in the big-bench You Tube series that the top cross-rail on one end should be lowered by a couple of inches or so if you want to fit a tail vise.

    Is there any reason why I shouldn’t do this on both ends anyway? I haven’t decided where I want my tail vise, and might want one on each end?

    Thanks

    Darren.

    • A tail vise at each end? Why? I am struggling to see what functionality you gain for the doubled effort and expense.

      If you haven’t decided which end you want your tail vise you can swap the leg assemblies if you built carefully. The main thing to watch for is that the bolt holes line up the same.

      But for at least 600 years since the first recorded tail vise, it goes on the right for righties and on the left for lefties.

      • Thanks for the reply.

        My conundrum is because of limited space in the workshop.

        While Paul has his tail vise to the right of his main vice, on the other end of the bench, and in line, I might need to put mine on the same end as the main vise. My bench will be wide enough to support that. It’s because one end of the bench will be close to the wall.

        What do you think?

        Thanks

        Darren.

        • If it’s going to be in a location where you can’t use it, it seems silly to have a vise there.

          Buy a nice combination plane or something instead.

          But with a little planing, you can decide later, like I said, by swapping the leg assemblies. You may even find you don’t need a tail vise at all, if you have a holdfast and doe’s foot.

          https://youtu.be/WNrof3cd1cA

          You don’t really need access to the end of the bench.

          I love my tail vise, but in constrained spaces there are other, cheaper ways.

          • Hi,

            Larry: thanks for the video link, that is really helpful. I have a couple of Grammercy holdfasts that I’m going to drill dog holes for, so this could work well.

            Zeppos: I was thinking of getting one of those instead of a full vise. How are you finding it?

            Thanks

            Darren.

  15. Hi Paul
    I am just making the modernization of my workbench.
    I would like to know ,where is there a better place for a vise, take the long edge of the table?
    Maybe In one third of the table length or half its length?
    The table will have a vertical 1″ thickness and 10″ heights board and with some holes for fixing the sticking boards and supports for longer elements. The total lenght of the table is 56 “.
    Thanks for your advice.
    Regards
    Christopher

  16. Dear Paul;
    I have been woodworking for about 13 years but due to a bad elbow in my major arm I have had to use mostly power tools to get the work done. When I came across Roy Underhill’s Woodwright Shop I had my first taste of hand woodworking. He brought me along in many ways and gave me a good basic understanding of the craft and tools.
    When I discovered Paul Sellers, the art of hand woodworking came into sharp focus and inspired me in ways untold. I wish to thank you for all you are doing in passing on the craft so completely and with such great explanation and example!
    My only regret in watching you is that due to my limitations, I will not be able to follow you in some of the techniques you demonstrate- but that does not mean I can’t remember them and pass them along to those who can do it.
    Merry Christmas Paul

  17. I am very much enjoying this series. I decided to make this a new year personal project, and I am very much looking forward to it. I have also watched Paul’s other video series on creating a workbench a number of times. I love watching Paul work. There is something very calming in his manner and his skills are something to be envied. I find myself watching him chisel out a mortice in real time and don’t feel that it should be sped up or skipped through. Keep up the good work!

    I would also like to praise the video editing and production.

    Best wishes and merry Christmas,

    Chris

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