Sometimes, I regret spending the first year or so of my woodworking life using primarily power tools. I ponder how much further along I’d be in my hand work and sigh. Sunk costs, I guess. But more than that, I wonder how awesome it would have been to learn on a proper workbench. I started on a Black & Decker Workmate 425, so it could have been worse.
But then what is the right type of workbench for a new apartment woodworker? While I love my Milkman’s Workbench, and am glad to have made it, it’s not my go-to workbench anymore. And I certainly did not have the skill to make one just starting out (not to mention the PWW article had not even been written yet). So what would I do? I’d buy another Black & Decker Workmate 425, of course, and start on my basic set of tools.
But then, I would buy four, eight foot long Douglas Fir 2x4s and laminate a 48″ x 12″ slab. Which I could then dress by hand, drill some dog holes for a planing stop and clamp to a sturdy table with angle iron. Then I’d use that surface to make a DIY moxon vise from veneer press screws and some red oak or maple 2×4’s and have all the workholding I could need for a while. Then I would use the moxon vise to make a shooting board.
I’m not just spitballing here. I woodwork almost exclusively on a 48″ x 9″ x 1.5″ maple slab, a shop-made moxon vise with 24″ between the screws, and a plywood shooting board. And it works for me.