Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Short and Sweet (a chairmakers bench)

Well, after a few hours work the first dedicated chair makers bench in Sumner county is complete. First and foremost I think any bench should be massive, heavy, thick, and won't dance across the shop in use. The Roubo style fits that bill perfectly. But beyond that a chair makers bench should be slightly wider (26 1/2'') to handle the rake and splay of the legs. Not too wide since carving a seat involves 180 degrees of movement around the seat while carving. That is why the top is shorter (4') in length. 

 The leg vise is very powerful for holding seat blanks in place. I also made the chop 9'' wide for more purchase on the seat and also for the leg jig when drilling the undercarriage assembly. The vise is closer to the end of the bench for easy carving on end grain. The Benchcrafted vise works just as sweet as the video you see on their website.
 I have four of the hold fasts ready for use around the bench. These are a must for holding the seats in place while carving. The top is 4'' thick and I drilled a 1 1/4''counterbore underneath every hold fast hole leaving only 2 3/4 thick material. I have had problems in the past with them not holding in thicker tops. This always solves the problem. Matthew O'Neill also gave me a good tip the other day of using a center punch on the shaft of the hold fast to help grip the hole. Good stuff.
 The base has the same shelf like my other bench using ship lapped boards which float on cleats.
 The biggest improvement was eliminating the tail vise getting all the dog holes out of the way of the chair legs. I also moved the hold fast holes closer toward center for the same reason. I like the split top design without a tool tray but open on each end to use clamps to hold chairs in place after legging up. The gap is 1 3/4'' wide to accommodate the style of clamps I use.
Overall there is not really a lot of difference other than just tweaking a few things that kinda bugged me about the other bench.There are things that will still work better on the other style bench so it's good to have both. Especially when I have four students at one time. You all let me know what you think. Happy chair making!


  1. Looks awesome Greg, looking forward to giving a test spin during the Writing Arm Windsor class in Nov.

  2. Thanks John, it should be a fun class.

  3. Nice work indeed Greg. I'm going to try and get down and have a look in person in July! I'll be in touch.

  4. Beautiful, as expected. Nice proportions. Can't wait to see it some day.

  5. Sweet!

    Can you elaborate on how you did the monogram?


  6. Glen, looking forward to your visit.
    Ziggy I hope to get up to Berea soon to see you guys.

    Steve, the monogram could not be more simple. Printed a letter on computer and traced on chop with carbon paper, then burned with a burning pen, lightly sand and finish with oil.

  7. Thanks Jameel, might have to tote this one to Handworks next year.

  8. That is one fine work-bench although it's more of a luxury bench when it's made from walnut. I'd like to have that one after you've seasoned it a bit, but it may take a crane and low-boy to move it. Great work Greg. John's friend, Gary

    1. Thanks Gary, I'm sure I'll have it beat up in no time.

  9. A Bench befitting of it's beautiful surroundings. How did your wife not want it in her kitchen? Everything about it says quality, the monogram, the holdfasts, should I have expected less? No!

  10. Bill, you are very kind. My wife is welcome to cook on this bench anytime she wants or maybe I should build her the dining table I have promised for the last 15 years. hmmm

  11. Greg, that bench looks fantastic, and the monogram is a very nice touch! Let us know when you are heading up to Berea-I'm missing not seeing all the people I have met at Kelly's since he is taking this year off.

    Greg Jones
    Berea, KY USA

  12. Greg,
    Your bench is almost exactly the bench I need to build. Thanks for sharing.

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