Thursday, May 14, 2015

This should be your first piece...

There are a zillion woodworking books out there, and almost as many monthly magazines. Add in all the websites, videos, blogs, message boards - they're all filling your brain with plans, ideas, techniques... you get the idea. It's easy to get excited. Or to become overwhelmed, misled, confused or worse yet...

filled with invincibility. 

Hell yes, I can spend $100 and make a dresser in a weekend!

No,  you probably can't. Not if you want to do a good job, and do it properly. As much as people want to brag about their weekend doghouse project, or their Kreg jig fireplace mantle, you have to learn to pick your battles and tackle the projects that inspire you. That force you to do things well. 

And use good materials. 

And that turn out well. 

Have you seen the movie - The Perks of Being a Wallflower? There is a terrific sub-plot that takes place in a high school woodshop class, where all of the students have to make a clock. 

 I nearly blew my drink out of my nose when I saw the scene where  all of the student clocks were revealed - some were obviously better made than others.

 And so it is with most woodworking projects - a lot of them start off with the best intentions, and with a lot of dollars thrown behind them, only to see them wilt under the lack of attention to detail, or the poor followthrough of technique. 

Sadly, workbenches often suffer that same fate. And I'm not pointing my finger at anyone's bench in particular, but more at myself. I've built my fair share of wobbly router tables, tables sleds that weren't quite square, and or jigs that just didn't work right. They were often under-engineered, or poorly designed from the start.  But I built them, enthused by magazine articles that boasted - YOU can build THIS in a weekend!, as if speed is the ultimate goal. 

How about quality over expedience? 

How about learning solid techniques? 

How about starting with something that can be slightly less than perfect, so you can work a few bugs out along the way?

Fine, then let's build a workbench. 

We'll start with 6/4 Steamed Euro Beech. 

Its grain can be outrageously gorgeous.

You'll learn more about mortise and tenon joinery than you thought possible!

and along the way, you'll do some interesting techniques, like routing massive profiles in wood, 

and wedging tenons.

Ever install a hanger bolt? Now's your chance!

You'll learn some nifty layout techniques, and you'll be able to customize it for your own preferred working height.

Best of all, it breaks down easily for transporting it home. 

We'll be adding a shelf underneath, and if you want a vice installed on it - bring one to class and we'll bolt it into place, and add some dog holes, to boot. 

Seriously - this is a great project for building up both your skills, and your confidence. There are just three spots left - and the class starts in about a week. 

Here's a link:  MAKE A GREAT BENCH!

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