Can a beginner make the Moravian? The DVD will lead you through the process very well, and like Joshua says, you would gain a lot of skills in the bargain. I have the DVD and consider it to be excellent, once having met Will at the Woodwright’s School. Having said that, it would not be my first choice. It does offer the advantage of being “knock-down” and “portable” if space is an issue. The disadvantages are: you either have to be very skilled already to make the vise screw or pay the cost for a manufactured version, and the slab top can be hard to come by. You will have to invest a fair amount of time in the process and doing the required work with no existing bench would add greatly to the challenge.
If you have the space, I would recommend one of the many simple bench designs that features construction grade lumber and a metal woodworking vise which can often be found as a used item, or you could use any of the many other traditional work holding configurations. It my not be the “ideal” bench but the materials are inexpensive (or free), can be constructed quickly with basic skills and excellent woodworking can be accomplished on it. After you have had to opportunity to refine your skills, get your tools gathered up, restored and tuned, and have figured out what features you want in your “ideal” bench, you can use your “old” bench get you where you want to be in record time.
All woodworkers are faced with challenges, not having the “right” tool, shop, bench, having to learn a new skill, having to adapt a stock plan because of the materials at hand, repairing mistakes, etc. It all adds up to the learning process and gaining those skills.
Above all else, have fun.
Mike in TN