So, I was ready to build a workbench. Complete with a laminated top and a
couple of decent WW vices. Then I got to thinking....
I don't have a ton of tools. And some of the tools I have aren't that great
(ie My craftsman tablesaw), but they'll do for now. I started on this
neander path a while back thinking it would be cheaper... HAH! Seems 2 or 3
good hand planes and I could buy myself a jointer. Then I thought about the
workbench. I can't say that I recall ever seeing Norm with much of a
workbench. Seems like he has some great big 'work tables', but no bench to
speak of. Is this an attribute of 'Normite vs Neander' on the requirement
of the true sense of the woodworkers workbench? Or is it just 'To each
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Norm's got a workbench he even sells the plans for it at Newyankee.com. It
does have a nice spin on it for in use tool storage. Mines a 75 year old
maple shop built hand me down from great grandpa (he gloats). Either way
every shop should have one.
Yes - but only if you're a "Pure Normite" and only ever use a chisel
to open paint tins. If you are, then a simple table of 2x4s and a
3/4" ply top (4mm MDF or masonite replaceable wear-top too) is
adequate. It's handy for Neanders too, if you have the space for both
bench and assembly table.
What's a "paint tin", Andy? Many paint companies over
here are putting paint in newfangled plastic jugs with
large screw-off tops nowadays. Drip-free, too!
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Some people like narrow maple workbenches. I prefer my wide,
4 foot by 5 foot, work bench with a replaceable linseed oiled
fiber board top. I built this one based on pictures of a 18th
century French workbench in a book on workbenches.
I would answer your question, 'To each his own.'
Mike W. wrote:
Norm has an Ulmia in the shop. It doesn't get any more "neander" than
that. The Ulmia is a classical European style workbench with front
vise, tail vise, and dog holes. For years that was the bench behind
him as he fed stock into the saw. He frequently laid a piece of
Homosote over it for glue-ups and other tasks, so you might have
In the last couple of seasons he has been using the work table he
built a couple of years ago, but the bench is still around, or at
least it was a few months ago when I cyber-toured the shop again.
Also, in the first season, I think, he built a neander type workbench.
I think he used it a couple of episodes and then brought the Ulmia
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Unless you're really good, or are comfortable with uneven gaps around
flush mount drawer or cabinet door, and want to stick with face framed
ply cabinets with epoxy coated drawer guides - you WILL find a bench a
necessary or desirable tool to hold things while you make them fit
"just so" or to ease an edge or deal with a gnarly grain or ... If you
get the handcut dovetails bug it will come in handy. If you start
handsawing tenons and chopping mortises it will come in handy. If
you get to clamping up stuff that doesn't meet at 90 degrees it will
come in handy.
Having said all that, my Real Workbench is STILL waiting for me to
handcut the dovetails in the 2" thick (8/4 for the galoots) apron.
No router bit will do the job though I did have a go with the
bandsaw and the test pieces came out pretty good. But, eventually
I'll get off the dime and then only the Veritas Twin Screw will
'Til then, I cuss and swear and continue using the 4x8 "bench/assembly
table" with it's three dog holes and one face vice. But I find
having to walk around the damn thing to get something just out of
reach is starting to wear on me. A narrower bench with dog holes,
twin screw and a shoulder vice should take care of that - eventually.
Others have answered about Nahm's bench, but I'll toss in a few
words about Neander vs. powah tool "requirements" for a bench.
Neander bench height is likely to be different from a bench
designed for powah tools. Common wisdom is that a Neander bench is
about the height of the distance from the floor to the woodworkers
palm when he stands with his arms at his sides and his hand held out
palm-down. Nahmite benches tend to be built to match the heights of
various stationary powah tools so it can serve as an auxiliary
Neander benches need to be designed to withstand the rigors of
planing, chopping dovetails, mortising, etc. Nahmite benches may or
may not have that requirement.
Neander benches need a workholding system for jointing and
surfacing boards. Nahmite benches may or may not need that.
Neander benches need a tool shelf to hold all of those fancy
Lie-Nielsen and Veritas planes so that they can admire them while
pondering what to build next. Nahmite benches may or may not need
Anyhow, you get the idea. Personal preferences will play a large
role, as will the particular blend of Neander/Nahmite that you happen
Back when I decided to set up shop, and head down (or was that up?) the ww
highway, a suitable workbench was obviously a neccesity.
With pints of Krenovian blood pumping through veins, I drew up my plans for
the ultimate bench, worked out the stock/harware/vise list, and costed out
the estimated hours.
The next morning I went out and bought a LV bench.
Not only was the LV bench cheaper, but how on earth was I going to create a
bench respectable enough to take up that much realestate on my shop floor,
without a workbench to build it.
The LV bench now sits in the shop as a spare and extra workspace, gleaming
as the day it entered the shop.
Actually Norms bench is more of a neander bench with it's tail vice, common to
planing applications, tool well and face vice. It shares some similarities to
the Scandinavian style cabinetmaker's benches, used mainly for holding the work
for planing, sawing, chisel/chopping and other hand tool applications. The
narrow top makes it convenient to work from the back side as well which is why
you often see them positioned in the middle of the room. While it does get some
use as an assembly surface its a bit small which is in my mind a fitting
conservation of shop space. I tend to fine tune my joinery at the bench and do
my assembly on a seperate surface. I consider doing assembly on my bench no
different than tying up my table saw surface for assembly, it happens on
occassion but its bound to intefere with my work flow.
Dunno, some of each? I started with more of an assembly table, and only
recently retrofitted it with front vises and dog holes. I do use it for
holding wood while I plane and chisel on it, which are both very Neander
activities. However, it's also very damn handy as a clamping table. I
used to have to wrestle with a bunch of huge pipe clamps to hold, say, a
big box or a chess board glue-up together. Now I do it all with a couple
of dogs and the pop-up dog on the front vise. Throw down some waxed paper
so I don't have to peel the dry glue off the top, and away I go. It's one
of the most useful things I've ever done in the shop.
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < email@example.com>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
Nobody every said going neander was always cheaper.... In fact, once
you get hooked on planes it's all down hill from there... *sigh*
The nice thing about doing things neander is you can hear yourself
think....and hear your SWMBO, okay so maybe it's not a good thing
after all. ;-)
On Wed, 28 Jan 2004 23:03:18 GMT, "Mike W."
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