Wednesday, December 26, 2012
A Josh Finn Workbench Update
If you were to Google "Josh Finn Workbench" you would find almost 500,000 responses (his workbench has sort of a cult following). My blog will be somewhere in those search results because I wrote about the build of my Josh Finn workbench about three years ago.
I got the design from Fine Woodworking issue 202. Upon completion of this workbench I pledged to critique it from time to time, because it is certainly an unusual bench: two box beams which basically rest on two sawhorses. When I built it, I kept my fingers crossed that I had made a good decision, and it has been good for the most part. The bench was relatively inexpensive to build, the box beam set up gives me a wide variety of options while woodworking; especially clamping options. The beams are skinned with two different materials; one being melamine which has been a good work surface so far.
But there is one big problem with my bench - it isn't heavy enough. I am reading Chris Schwarz' book "The Workbench Design Book" and early on in this book Schwarz makes the point that a workbench can not be too heavy by saying "I have yet to find one that was just too burly to be practical." But, the opposite of this can be a problem: "What is so bad about a lightweight bench? ...Try using a handplane on that bench. You'll move the whole bench."
When I began using my first real handplane back in May, my Josh Finn inspired workbench would scoot across the floor with each pass of the plane. To be fair, my bench is a scaled down version of the one shown in FWW. In the image above you can see Finn using a nice big plane and his bench is quite a bit larger than mine. If I had room to make one as big as that shown in the article, it would have to move less. Maybe as I get more practice with my planes, this unwanted side effect will be less frequent, but at present, it is a problem.
I really consider this workbench to be an assembly table. It's flexibility is great for glue-ups (also yellow glue won't stick to the melamine) and using it with power tools is very nice. The reason I am reading Schwarz' book is I see a proper workbench in the future, especially as I continue to be tempted by hand tool work.
Speaking of hand tools, let me introduce you to my new block plane: the Lie-Nielsen 60 1/2 R. I have not used it yet, but the fit and finish is excellent and it definitely has some weight to it.
This was a hand tool Christmas for me; I also got several books on the subject. I hope Santa brought you some good woodworking stuff.