Back to My Roots

So it’s still a global pandemic, and I’m running out of lumber for projects.  I used up the last of my 1×12 eastern white pine for a sweet wall-leaning bookcase, which is really just for displaying my vintage Lego sets.  This was only supposed to be the prototype, but it came out so nice, I’m leaving it at that.  More on that soon.


Space 1989-1995 FTW!

I also finished my new workbench, which is roughly in the Nicholson style.  Made of hard maple (other than  little bit of soft maple blocking under the holdfast holes), it’s 98″ long, 22″ deep and 34.75″ high.  It’s the longest workbench I’ve ever worked on, and, to be fair, it’s probably bigger than I need it to be.  Honestly, it’s probably too big for the 12.5′ x 13.5″ bedroom that I use as my shop.  I’m not banging the walls with a jointer plane or anything, but it’s definitely tight clearance on the ends.


It has no rear apron, like a true Nicholson.

I’ve also been practicing staked furniture (mostly low benches).  I think I’ve found a layout that I like, both structurally and aesthetically.  65 degree sight line and 10 degree resultant angle.  It keeps the round mortises near the outside of the top but is still fairly stable.  There is always one wonky leg, but what can you do?


At least, this time, it’s too little splay and not too much.

So all this is a way of saying I’ve been keeping busy as best I can.  But I need a challenge.  And I need to get back to my apartment woodworker roots.  I’ve gotten too cozy with my proper workbench and full tool chest.

So I’m hitting the reset button.  I’ve got seven Douglas Fir 2×4’s and only these tools:


Although, in fairness, I might use my No. 4 smoothing plane.

Let’s see what we can make!



  1. Joe,

    Nice bench, with a Maple Nicholson bench 50mm or more should give a solid surface even if mortising by hand. Some of my portable benches have slabs less than 50mm and are no problem, we have all been Rouboed into thinking thicker and heavier is better. Good design works as well.

    I have two stories about “wonky” legs: One, like some Persian rug makers, “only Allah is perfect” and the mistake is for you to find. The other, it shows the piece is handmade, not made by machine. I’m not sure anyone buys either but it works for me.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. With some blocking to make sure the hold fast holes don’t prematurely waller, 2 inches of hard maple is plenty. As for mistakes, I thought the sign of every good woodworker is pointing out the mistakes even though no one cares!


  2. Nice bench! Mine is a sjöberg senior that fits in my 4 sqm workshop corner in my apartment (tool cabinet is half my workshop space). Do you have a bench drill press? I am tempted by finding one, would like something compact and silent. When you have a wonky leg, one tips I read is to set the piece on the benchtop with a hand plane clamped in the vise upside down to trim the 4th one, it works well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a very cheap benchtop drill press that I love. It’s like a hundred bucks on Amazon and it works great. It’s the Skil. also when I said wonky I meant the angle it protrudes from the bench top it’s leveled with the other feet. It just optically is at a bad angle.


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