Friday, December 26, 2014

This is Not a Toy

 Christmas morning


The gift was a hit. At 6:30 on Christmas morning, Eden and I sat on the couch analyzing the gifts under the tree. Mostly, Eden was baffled at what “the big box” was. As he peeled the layers off, he excitedly exclaimed its identity, “It’s a workbench!” We set up immediately to try it out. Sawing, planing, and shaving: all were accomplished with ease on Eden’s first “real” woodworking bench. This is no toy… This is a fully functional working tool. It will be great for our shop nights together because he has too long spent time with inadequate work holding or makeshift bench scenarios. Now he can build anything I can build right at his own bench.


For the non-woodworking readers, this is based on a bench design from Andre Roubo, an 18th century French cabinetmaker who wrote a book detailing woodworking methods and tools in 1769. Eden’s version is obviously quite petite compared to the original. It’s made of pine milled from my property. The bench’s base was worked and assembled green (ie. wet) and was drawbored. This means there is not a drop of glue in this bench. All the joints are mechanically locked with wooden pins. As the wood fully dries the joints will only get tighter.



The vise on the front is a leg vise with a wooden screw I made from 8/4 soft maple. I turned the stock to size on the lathe and then used Garrett Wade’s 1 ½ “Wood Threader” to cut the threads. It’s a pretty slick operation. The vise works without any hiccups.



I also ordered a pair of Gramercy holdfasts for the bench which will be one of the most important features for him as he has a really hard time manipulating clamps. (Who doesn’t?) Holdfasts are so easy a five year old can use them. The planing stop is a wooden dowel notched at the top (like a wooden dog). I am a big believer in toothed planing stops but I think that may be a little dangerous for Eden at this point. To offset the inconvenience of not having metal teeth to bite into the wood, he is able to make use of a doe’s foot. This arrangement seems to work fine for now. We’ll see how things go for him. I may need to make a few modifications to fine tune it for his work.

Woodworking Waldo style

As family came over throughout the day’s festivities, he ran to the door and announced, “Gramma (etc.), I got a workbench!” and rushed in to demonstrate its use (especially in conjunction with his new #3 Stanley plane). I’m glad he likes it. This will make shop night even more fun.

12 comments:

  1. You two are the best parents ever. I salute you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Chris. It makes it hard NOT to do this with him when he gets so excited about this stuff!

      Delete
  2. Just came across your site from my old bookmarks-- well timed to see your son's amazing gift! Lucky boy.

    ps. OMG HI CHRIS

    ReplyDelete
  3. THIS IS EPIC! You win at Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great gift that will be one he remembers for ever!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks, all. I am sure you will all see some of Eden's projects in future posts.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Best woodworking Christmas present ever. (I'm not a parent, but I think you win there, too.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Megan. He's been really excited about it. At shop night this week we were working on a few workholding methods. He's getting the hang of it.

      Delete
  7. The family that plays together... (But please put some shoes on him in case he drops a tool)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Seriously great gift, major dad points on this one. So did you take the credit or is this an official Santa's workshop bench?

    ReplyDelete