Last week we took it upon ourselves to determine some of the defining parameters that we felt we should work to, while building the Nicholson bench for the Toledo Woodcraft Store. There are only a few. First: workbench height will be at 34″. This is a compromise, as the bench will be used by people of varying heights. The ideal way to judge correct bench height for a bench to be used for handwork is to measure from the floor to the wrist of the user, or (and probably more ergonomically correct) from the crease of the buttocks to the floor. Of course, this would be the user’s buttocks (old timers regularly “hiked one cheek up” on the bench while cutting mortises, in fact there are benches built for the sole purpose of mortising and they are typically knee height, so one could sit “astraddle” of the workpiece). Second: simply enough, was to build the bench heavy. A workbench cannot be too heavy or too long. Let me repeat that, a workbench cannot be too heavy or too long. However, a workbench can be too high and/or too wide. So, be advised. (Save time, save money, learn from the mistakes of countless thousands of craftsman who thought they had a better way, that’s how “standards” got started.) And third: use the most effective joinery methods. This translates into joinery that is not only pretty, but joinery that will stand up to repetitive movement and stress. So, now it begins in earnest.
Above is 2/3′s of today’s crew ripping stock for the leg sets. Between Carl, Les and I, we’ve got over a hundred years of woodworking experience. What does that mean in real terms? It means we’ve made a whole lot of mistakes over the years. A whole lot of mistake that you don’t necessarily have to make yourself. Readers of this blog should realize that everything we’re doing here can be done with hand tools. Only thing is it would take a whole lot longer.
So the first things we’ll build are the two leg “sets”. Here’s a little “cartooned” illustration. Dimensions aren’t important. And remember, you can use almost any lumber, durability is the driving factor. Just remember, it should be of a proper thickness to allow a holdfast to work efficiently.
We’re moving now and it won’t be long until we complete the bench. But in the meantime, I’m wishing for warming temperatures because this is what is just outside my front door. Is it Ohio or is it Siberia? You be the judge. My Norwegian friends will surely enjoy this.
We’ll have this thing put together well before we play our first round of golf (June 1?).