Of the three or so classes I’ve taught at TX/RX Labs and the twenty to thirty projects I’ve taught at work, the simple bench project remains my favorite. It is an intermediate level project which can be reached by absolute beginners, it’s cheap to build (approximately $15 w/ finish) and it lends itself to multiple machines (tablesaw, bandsaw, drill press) and hand tools.
I present the latest and greatest class yet:
Special thanks to Pratt for building extra supports for himself and everyone else, shout out to Sean for the intense questions, my teaching assistants, and everyone else in the class. Sure made my weekend.
I swear the conversation went like this:
Wife: “What dress should I wear?”
Me: “I don’t know, you look great in anything.”
Wife: “This dress? What about this one?”
Me: “I don’t know if you’ve been watching me, but I haven’t taken my eyes off you in forty minutes.”
Wife: ”I need a full length mirror, I can’t see anything here.”
Me: ”I can handle that.” Exit stage right.
I know a good exit line when I’m handed one.
Mirror from Lowe’s, sans frame. A saw kerf down the middle makes a perfectly sized dado. Pocket hole construction. The mortise-looking splines came from a botched attempt at a bridle joint, similar to these frames. Finished with a three coats of amber shellac and paste wax. Feels inviting to the hand. I especially like the chamfer detail at the corners. Hung with a French cleat.
Make it safe & keep the rubberside down this weekend.
Here’s some pictures of completed Arts & Crafts type frames I’ve put together over the last few weeks – along with some older frames still in use. The wife’s given me a commission to cover our living room wall. Got a bit more wall to cover, but I feel like I’m getting the style down.
Bridle joints on every corner. Every frame is oak, whether white, red or salvaged. My finishes are all over the place – Danish oil, polyurethane, spar urethane, polycrylic. I’m not really worried about matching. I’ve brush, sprayed and rubbed. Just experiments in style.
Make it safe and keep the rubberside down this weekend.
Last year, I posted a quick project: The Bed Frame. It has since become the most searched for post on this website, garnering a little over a thousand views with no publicity. People like to build beds.
It’s taken a while, but I’ve put together a small PDF which outlines how I make my simple bed frames. You can catch the goodness here: The Kid’s Bed Frame Plan
If you build it…send me pictures at woodshopcowboy @ gmail.com! If you have critiques, send them to a different address…I mean, send them over too.
Remember to like WoodshopCowboy on Facebook and be entered for a prize drawing.
Make it safe & keep the rubberside down this week.
My very first class for TX/RX Labs (or any other place non-school) is completed. Six students (adult, this time) built benches with me for two half days. We were a little crunched on time, but we stayed late (or showed up early) and completed our benches.
I want to thank my students for coming and sticking with me, my teaching assistants (Oleg, Jim, Oz and Roland) and TX/RX Labs for having me. Most of all though, I want to thank my brother Jim. I think I’m good at this stuff – but I taught him how to build the bench at 7am…and he was teaching by 9. Jim taught me the value of hard work…because it’s the only way to keep ahead of his talent. I have a wonderful brother. So thank everyone for a wonderful class and holiday weekend.
Guess we gotta get finishing!
Make it safe & keep the rubber side down.
In the past few weeks, I’ve had the chance to photograph my completed big fall project from 2011. I put together the table base over a few weeks in August and built the top over a couple weeks in September. I don’t remember much, other than my wife traveled overseas during that time. I remember my stomach tightening when she said “well, the country is in a state of emergency, so I might need a bodyguard” and the guys at the lumberyard telling me “a great story” about said country which involved his friend being smuggled out of a military dictatorship.
I built the top in a fury and spent the rest of the day re-learning or learning prayers for safety in a number of religions. Then I listened to a lot of soft rock power love ballads. Just to cover all bases.
My wife came home safe to a new table.
Of course, if you build a table, you have to have chairs. I’ve always wanted to build an “exact” copy of a project from Make: Magazine. I built four in November, and they looked like this. I added a support brace across the back and front, which mitigated the thinness of the plywood. As is, the chairs have some flexing but have held up quite nicely for six months.
If you build a puzzle chair, make sure your sides stay parallel to the ground or lean towards each other slightly. One of mine tilts the wrong way and my “total-testing apparatus” (my three-year old) has flipped that chair a few times. I figured out which one caused the trouble and made it “Daddy’s Chair”.
Make it safe & keep the rubber side down this weekend.
My boys are back in town and they are locked and loaded – here’s a few glamor shots of their beautiful simple benches.
Remember – if these look good to you, come build your own version with me at TX/RX Labs in May.
This fall, I made an effort to produce a “high-quality” product – and by this I mean hardwoods, nice finishes, proper construction techniques and professional quality work. This effort resulted in the “Tea Box” project. I also tried to maximize the amount and quantity of hand tools used versus the necessity of power tools.
I’ve spent the last three weeks (since mid-July) avoiding the woodshop both at work and home. At work, a series of major structural changes has kept me away from the wood – which will turn into a good thing. Exciting times ahead my friends.
At home, I finished a refurbishing an old office chair. The project awaits some photography and a blog post. Otherwise, the last few weeks have been about re-organization some major tool acquisitions. If you hang out around tools, sooner or later you’ve heard the story behind my new tools: they were my father’s tools. I don’t have use for them.
I do.. So let us see the tools after the jump!