Tuesday, December 13, 2011



  1. Andy, you must be pretty strong to move that bench around! That thing is stout, and the color is wonderful. Very nicely done, and I appreciate you taking the time to post it here.

  2. Now that's a solid looking bench! Nice work, and you'll get some good use out of it. The first dent or chisel cut might hurt a bit in a top that looks that good...

    Just out of curiosity, what are you planning to use for a face planing stop? And will you be putting holdfast holes in the top?

  3. Thanks guys. I turned it upside down to finish the underside and it nearly broke my back getting it upright again. I think it weighs around 350 lbs.

    As for a planing stop, I definitely am going to have one of some type but haven't decided exactly what yet. I will be boring some holdfast holes but was convinced by others that I should bore them as I need them. My thought is to start with one about every foot in both boards. I am also going to install a crochet.

  4. Boring for holdfasts as you need them sounds like a good plan. In fact, I just put a few more in my bench last week, when I needed to use the off side (6 months after building it).

    I've been happy with the crochet, but I periodically bashed my hand on it or bumped a plane fence into it, which was kind of annoying. I then saw Mike Siemsen's recent blog post where he suggests "…a crochet placed low enough to not interfere with your fenced planes." Duh. After moving it down last weekend, edge jointing and plowing just got a lot safer.

  5. I really enjoy your blog, I am a beginner hand tool woodworker. I also have a bandsaw. After studying workbenches extensively and getting over my Ruobo obsession I have decided that Nicholson workbench is for me and is going to be my first big project. I have already purchased some SYP and have been planing them down as flat as possible with my hand planes. I have beefed up my sharpening gear with a tormek and Sigma power stoes from (tools from Japan) and have been quite successful with sharpening with them so far. I am going to use SYP boards for the legs and the stretchers. They are all quarter sawn 2 x12 's I had bought from HD and had already ripped them on my bandsaw to 2 x 5's (minus the center pith area)...
    for the side and top boards however I might resaw some 6x6 Douglas firs from the home center and then glue them up together like book joints; the tops will be two 12 inch and the side boards perhaps 16 to 18 inches in widths...
    Do you foresee anything going wrong with the top and the sides being 3 inches thick? i am also going to do what McGuire does with his English bench just for the looks. That angled lap joint where the side boards meet the legs whatever that joint is called (http://www.theenglishwoodworker.com/?p=440) I am just not sure which one to cut first though to minimize chances of making any mistakes.

    My biggest difficulty as a beginner is measurement. I was wondering if you have any reference for your Bench even in the form of ratios since all benches are going to be of different heights and depths depending on the height of the woodworker needs and space.

    I hope I did not ask too many stupid questions. Thanks for reading my long comment
    Keep up the god work I am a going to be a frequent visitor of your blogs


  6. Fabian,

    SYP and Douglas Fir and both good choices for this bench. Be sure to let them acclimate to your shop and get rid of some moisture if they are green. In my area at least, DF 6x6s are dripping wet and would take quite a while before I would use them. My top is a full 2" and that is plenty. After you resawed the beams and planed them, they would likely end up a little over 2 1/2" and that would be OK. You can get my with construction 2x12, just put in a few extra cross-bearers. I think more than 12" for the sideboards is overkill unless you have a particular need for them to be that wide and they definitely don't need to be thicker than 2".

    As for dimensions, about 2' wide by 8' if you have room, otherwise as long as you can fit in your shop. Height is fiercely debated. For a woodworker of average height, opinions range from about 32" to 38". See my post about workbench height.

    I love my bench but, in retrospect, I was so concerned about Chris Schwarz's criticisms of Nicholson benches that I way overbuilt it. It weighs close to 400 lbs and is rock solid.

    Be sure to watch Bob Rozaieski's podcasts about his Nicholson. They are excellent and a great guide.

  7. Thanks Andy for the great tips. You are correct. I guess I am also affected by all the criticism of this bench and thinking a bit overkill. I have watched Bob Rozaieski's podcasts, they are great and very inspiring. I think Nicholson is overall a great bench.
    No wonder DF's are dripping wet in your area, you are in the middle of Df forrest and mountains. That's the price you pay for living in a beautiful country. I am in Houston Texas, no real forests or mountains here.. DF's are pretty dry at Lowes and HD's. SYPs however are another story. mine have been in my spare room shop (my garage workshop is too humid) for months now and still drying I figured I could speed up the process by some heater fans as long as I don't burn the house down.

    I have recently been contemplating purchasing a jointer. Do you think it is a necessary tool for this project. I am not sure if you have mentioned using one for your bench. I really enjoy hand planing. But of course it's very labor-intensive and time consuming not to mention repeated sharpening of the blades..

    Thanks again for your response, nice work, great looking bench


  8. Fabian,

    I understand better now why you are considering the DF. As for the jointer, if you aim to be a handtool woodworker, jointers aren't the best value. Unless you buy a 12" jointer or combo machine, they often aren't wide enough. It's also hard to joint long boards on planers without big tables. Many of us use a jointer plane to flatten one side and then put the board through a planer. I have a jointer but almost never use it. I didn't use it for my bench.

    If you don't have a good #7 or #8 (or their bevel up equivalents) you'll want one eventually. No doubt about it being a lot of work though.

    One way to avoid doing a lot of planing by hand or by machine is to be very careful picking your stock.