Never Say Never Again

Christmas is a time of giving, right? And while my wife and I don’t exchange Christmas gifts with each other, I decided to give myself a gift this year. You could call it a New Years gift, since I didn’t have it for Christmas. But I will get a lot of use out of it in the new year.

You see, in our previous house, I had a much larger shop in the basement. There was plenty of room for a jointer, planer, bandsaw and table saw, plus my workbench, and a big area of kitchen style cabinets and counter top for dirty work and my bench top drill press. Wait, a table saw???? Sounds nothing like my current setup, right?

When we moved into our current house, I was forced to downsize. Well, maybe forced isn’t the right word. I was faced with a decision. I could keep the bigger shop setup with all of the machines and make my new home in the unheated and uncooled garage, or I could get rid of the machines and set up an all hand tool shop in a small office space attached to our family room. Since I had already been working almost totally by hand for several years before we moved anyway, I chose to ditch the machines and keep the climate control 🙂 .


But I digress. One thing that I had in my old shop that I would have to make a decision on for my new, smaller shop was a dedicated sharpening area. I only had one spot available for such a setup and I really wanted to put a standing desk in that spot for minor odds and ends and for laying drawings while I was building a project. So I decided I would pass on the dedicated sharpening area and keep my sharpening stones on the shelf under my work bench and take them out when I needed to sharpen.

I’ve worked this way for almost a decade now, and you know what? I’ve really missed my dedicated sharpening bench. So I decided that this was the year I would remedy that problem and build a new one. I repurposed the standing desk to my daughters and opened up a spot for a new sharpening bench.

Here’s the thing though. I also wanted a portable workbench for when I do demos at different places. So really what I built was a mini workbench. When it’s in the shop I’ll use it as a sharpening bench. But I designed it in such a way that it can be quickly and easily disassembled and put into the back of my hatchback. It is only 4 parts, has no hardware, and can be disassembled and assembled in less than a minute each.


However, workbenches need a solid, flat top. In order to have a rigid, heavy top in such a small package, I decided to laminate the top out of doug fir 4 x 4s. It worked, but if you’ve been reading my musings for any length of time, you know how I feel about laminating tops for workbenches. If you’re new to the blog, let’s just say that laminating workbench tops by hand for me is about as fun and probably just as painful as a DIY bikini wax with duct tape would be.

So I spent the afternoon today leveling the laminations and flattening the top. Really it was probably only about an hour to an hour and a half of work, but it was work I’m not fond of doing. Now that it’s done though, I’m glad I did it. After a few coats of varnish to seal the top up to keep it relatively clean, I’ll have a nice new sharpening bench and a second workbench for those times when it would be nice to have two.

And while I’d like to say I’ll never laminate another workbench top again, like the aging Bond, this aging woodworker now knows to never say never.


Happy 2015 everyone!


15 thoughts on “Never Say Never Again

  1. Aahh! And with a steel plane also!

    I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while but don’t remember why you dislike this so much. It’s just a large board isn’t it?

    • Yeah, I still have a few iron planes.

      It is kind of like a large board once it’s all glued up. It’s the process of getting to that point that I despise. Every joint has to be flattened, squared and glued. And no matter how careful you are there’s always some misalignment forcing you to plane off more than you would have to with a single wide board. I feel the same way about wide panels for furniture. I try not to use any more than two or three boards to make case sides and table tops. I just find the process much faster, easier and more aesthetically pleasing when fewer boards are involved. If I could find a good supply of 18-24″ wide boards, I’d build all my furniture using single board case sides and tops.

  2. Ahhh yes, down to a tee shirt in December. Must be flattening a top!
    Nice little bench, Bob. Looks great.
    Happy new year.

  3. I really like “your version” of the standing desk. I think adding a drawer is a good idea. I looked at your previous entries on the desk, but didn’t see any dimensioned sketches. Do you have any detailed drawings for it?

    • Nope. It’s based on Roy Underhill’s, and if you know Roy, you know there are no dimensioned drawings. I never made any detailed drawings. I just based it upon the stock that i had on hand. I think the sides were made from a 1 x 12 and the legs ripped out of salvaged 2x4s. The sizes of all the other parts just kind of fell into place based upon the constraints that resulted from these parts.

  4. I sympathize on the flattening issue; I just finished flattening a 72 inch douglas fir slab laminated from hand ripped lengths of home center 2×10.

    What is your plan (if any) for workholding on the new bench? Vise, holdfasts, benchtop bench?

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