May 31, 2016 at 3:54 pm #2028884
GMParticipantMay 31, 2016 at 3:54 pmPost count: 11
I am looking to get started in hand tool woodworking and do not have a workbench. Is it realistic to think that a beginner can make the Moravian workbench?
Thank you for your input!
Joshua FarnsworthKeymasterMay 31, 2016 at 6:32 pmPost count: 54
Yes, I made this DVD so that even beginners can make this bench…
…and you will learn many hand tool skills by watching and building it. By the time it’s built you will be quite proficient in most of the fundamentals of traditional hand tool woodworking. Hope this helps!
GMParticipantJune 3, 2016 at 11:22 amPost count: 11
Further Questions on the Moravian Workbench
Hi, Joshua. I have a few follow up questions on the Moravian workbench:
- What type of wood is used for the bench?
- Another writer refers to sourcing the slab top. Do we make the top as part of the project?
- Do we make the wooden vice?
- Can this project be made without the use of another workbench?
Thank you for all your efforts!
Mike in TNParticipantJune 1, 2016 at 10:18 pmPost count: 253
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
bgtraftonParticipantJune 2, 2016 at 6:57 amPost count: 2
Yet another Beginner
Gentlemen, I too am looking at building the Moravian work bench. Is the slab top THAT difficult (to source and build)? I’ve been able to locate the wooden screw on-the-line and seen there’s a second vice available out there as well for the end of the bench. Are these pieces more difficult to come by?
As well, I was expecting this bench to cost about $700-ish; am I close? What are the recommended supplies, aside from tools (I’ve watched that video time and again), required to build the Moravian bench?
I have experience constructing “things” with wood, mostly raised garden frames and vertical herb gardens. I was hoping this video and process of building a work bench would be a good jumping off point for hand tools and more finely constructed items.
Mike in TNParticipantJune 2, 2016 at 8:35 amPost count: 253
My point was that the Moravian represents a substantial (for me anyway)investment of both time and money that many beginners might want to spend elsewhere (on tools, projects, or materials maybe). It is definitely a nice bench and the DVD will get you there quite well. However, based on my experience and in my opinion, beginners should consider a sturdy, basic, less expensive, and quicker bench until they have spent some time in the hobby and have developed a good idea of the bench features that matches with the work they do or want to do. If you are a beginner then how do you know which of the many bench designs or features would serve you best? Would you rather have someone else’s dream bench or a better set of other (since a bench is a tool) tools and a basic bench? And yes, thick quality slabs are hard to come by and I am willing to bet that most folks that do thick bench tops laminate them instead for a variety of reasons.
Whatever your decision, it all works. It is kind of like the preference in chisel handles or oriental vs, European hand tools, or pin vs. tails dovetails.
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bgtraftonParticipantJune 2, 2016 at 9:17 amPost count: 2
I’m looking a place to start my learning, always nice to hear different opinions on what’s best.
Any advice for a guy who’s looking at getting started that isn’t covered in Josh’s site?
Mike in TNParticipantJune 2, 2016 at 10:12 amPost count: 253
There at least three different ways to do any woodworking task. Try them all and keep what works best for you given your situation and skill level. Look at lots of old furniture and learn what worked well over time and what didn’t. Remember that much fine work was accomplished with simple tools. Every classic was once new and different. Just because a tool is expensive does not mean it is good. Just because a tool is inexpensive does not mean it is bad, or at least not inappropriate for the task at hand. We all have something to learn from the person next to us so try and find a woodworking mentor. And above all else, have fun
SidesParticipantJune 6, 2016 at 6:11 pmPost count: 49
You can use any wood you like. The bench I am using right now is a Nicholson bench made out of douglas fir. There at least 2 schools of thought on wood type for a bench.
The first one us use a hardwood for the top. Because it will last longer.
The other is use a soft wood for the top. Because if you bump the piece you are working on, the bench will take the hit and not your project piece.
Truthfully I don’t think it really matters. Use what you can afford, and what is plentiful in your area. What does matter is the weight of the bench. You don’t want it to move when you are planing on it. By me the affordable hardwood is white ash. They are cutting down a lot of ash trees, because of the emerald ash borer. If you look at historic benches. They used what was plentiful and local.
You don’t need a one piece slab. You can make a top by laminating several boards together. A thick slab big enough for a workbench can be expensive, and harder to find. Personally I like the look of a laminated top. It is a preference thing. Its your bench, it should look like what you want it to look like.
You will need to make the vise, but you don’t need to use a wooden screw. Last time I looked a wooden screw was about $200. A metal one from Lee Valley was about $45. Both screws work just fine.
The age old question, do you need a bench to build a bench. Not really. If you start with the top first, you can clamp it to a couple of saw horses and work off of that.
The video on making a Moravian workbench is very well made, and is easy to follow. Will is very good at explaining what he is doing, and showing the joinery. The camera work is also very well done. It is one of the best videos on how to make a workbench.
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