Friday, November 20, 2015

FORP II Bench Kits

Nobody ever looked forward to leftovers. Until now.

In the year-long preparation for FORP II we prepared extra materials and hardware in the event of something catastrophic. Thankfully, nothing happened (even with Raney shuffling slabs around.) The good news is, we've got enough of everything left over to put together four complete bench kits. And we're offering them for sale here.

Here's what's included:

- 6" thick French oak  to build a 2 or 3 piece top, between 96" and 108" long, and between 20" and 24" wide. We saw the slabs for good yield, but some edges could have up to 20% wane, which can be positioned on the underside of the top. The variability in the length and width is dictated by the slabs as they come off the flitch. Some are 20' long, others are 18'. Sawing off the worst of the end checks yields 96"-108" tops. We'll run the tops through the Oliver Straitoplaner which will leave minimal work before gluing up. These are processed exactly the same way as the tops we prep for the FORP.

- 4" x 6" thick French oak for the legs.
- 2-5/8" x 6" French oak for the chop.
- 2" x 4-1/4"French oak for the rails.
- 4/4 French oak for the shelf boards.
- 3x3 French oak for the planing stop.

All the above will be sawn to nominal dimensions, which you'll then work to S4S in your shop.

- French Oak Plate 11 Leg Vise
Massive French oak screw and tapped leg by Lake Erie Toolworks
Wrought iron ring ferrule hand forged by Peter Ross
Wrought iron vise handle hand forged by Peter Ross
Crisscross Solo by Benchcrafted

- Plate 11-style holdfast hand forged by Benchcrafted

- Plate 11-style planing stop hand-forged by Peter Ross

The entire package will be strapped to a robust pallet and carefully prepared for truck shipment to your shop. Pickup in Barnesville, GA is also an option.

This is everything that the FORP participants received during the build last week, except for the letterpress label and lunch. If you want a FORP bench, but couldn't make the build, this is your only chance to get this kit.

The price for the kit it $4410.

Actual freight costs, which range around $300 (that's a wide average) will be added at the time of shipping (unless you're picking up.)

Again, we only have four kits available, and once they are gone, these won't be available again unless we do another FORP, which is always a big question mark.

If you're interested in buying a kit, drop an email to and we'll send you further details.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Limited Edition: Classic Leg Vise Unfinished NOW SHIPPING

When we first released our Classic Leg Vise we promised a few that we'd eventually offer it without the black Parkerized finish. Here's your chance to pick one up.

We only have a limited number of these, since this isn't a stock item. First come, first served.

The vise will arrive unfinished, sporting the freshly-machined steel surfaces right off our mills and lathes. The parts will have a light coating of oil. We recommend that you treat these like raw steel (since they are) and either keep them lightly oiled, or give them a good coat of paste wax to keep the rust at bay. You could also just let them get a nice old bronzey patina, if you have a few years worth of patience. A rub down with steel wool, followed by cold bluing would give them a steel-blue sort of look. Baked flax is also an option.

The handle is the only part that doesn't get fully machined. Since we start with cold rolled steel, the main shaft of the handle shows the mill finish, with only the threaded ends, and the V-groove midway being machined. This makes the main shaft look less shiny than the rest of the vise. The solution to unify the look of the handle (if you care) is to polish it with a maroon or gray Scotch-Brite pad, followed by fine steel wool (which is what we did to the assembled handle in the background.) You can do this to the rest of the vise as well, if you like the brushed, satiny-look.

If you're building a complete bench, this would pair nicely with a Tail Vise M, with its fully-machined handwheel.

The price of the unfinished Classic is the same as the standard Classic. See our store page for more info and options. If you would like a Benchmaker's Package with a Tail Vise M, make sure you request this specifically when ordering.

To order: Send an email to us, let us know exactly what you want, and include your full name and shipping address. We'll send you an invoice with the total, including shipping.

These are only available by sending us an email, they are NOT available through the website. 

NOW SHIPPING.  Ordering button below.  If you are International shoot us an email and we will send an invoice with accurate shipping.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Around the Corner: FORP II

In one week we'll be settling in at the woodworking utopia that is Wyatt Childs Inc. for seven days of tannin-stained, sweat-soaked adventure. After a lightning fast year from when we first announced the event, the FORP II is happening!

Here are some pics of a souvenir poster we printed today for FORP participants and volunteers. Designed by Wesley Tanner, Benchcrafted, and our old pal A.J.

These are printed on off-white Tyvek. Yeah, house wrap. It's tear-proof, waterproof, looks like old parchment or vellum, and takes ink beautifully.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Norwegian Wood

We finally made a trip to the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, IA. Wow! What a treat for woodworkers.

I've long known about the museum, and even dropped in on an acanthus carving class some 20 years ago, but have not returned since. The museum is the dedicated to the Norwegian immigrant experience, and as one of the museum staff told us, Norwegian culture is about wood, wood, and wood.

The range of woodwork was impressive, from simple carved spoons and ale bowls, all the way to elaborately carved high-style furniture. What stood out however was the quality and refinement of the carving. What we saw was simply stunning in design and technical execution.

One particularly impressive piece was a life-size carving by Fred Cogelow. The mix of superbly refined surfaces (the delicate eyelids) with retained gouge marks was perfectly executed.

The basement was full of chests, simple, carved, and painted.

This chair struck me. Looks like something out of the mid 20th century. It was made in 1800.

Then I turned the corner and saw this ensemble. Exquisite carving.

Even the entry to the gift shop was fully carved.

If you're in the area, we highly recommend a stop in Decorah. The museum is not too huge, a good 2 hours and you can see the whole thing leisurely. There are also several outdoor buildings on site that you can access on a guided tour (we didn't have time for this.) Other things to do in Decorah are Dunning Springs Park, the Ice Cave, plus your typical antiquing and outdoor activities. Decorah is in the heart of the Driftless region, so there is also beautiful landscapes, sightseeing, and some good trout fishing if you're into that.

For the full set of pics, click here.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Buy This Poster

If you like old-looking woodworking stuff, go buy the "Hammer and Hand" poster now offered by Lost Art Press. I got myself one a few weeks ago via carrier pigeon (that's how all vintage posters ship) and used some hand-wrought screws to install it in my nail cabinet. It fits right in with my Cracker Barrel wall. It is my favorite novelty item yet from the Lost (Art Press) Boys. It's printed on heavy paper, and the printing really does look old and hand made.

Get your poster here:

William Ng Cranks Out Some Roubo

William Ng ( has been building some benches. Roubo-style benches completely outfitted with Benchcrafted vises. We're quite proud to see another woodworking school outfitting their facilities with our products. William has long been known to us as a ridiculously meticulous joiner, and the skills he's bringing to this build are something to behold.

William has been making regular posts to his Instagram page documenting he and his fellow joiners' progress. Take a look here: for some great pics and videos.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Meet Dr. Ray Fleck, Roubo's Personal Physician

French Oak legs, tapped for Plate 11-style leg vises by Lake Erie Toolworks. Pics by Nick D.

Watch for more as we get closer to the build. And if you use Instagram, the special code is: #frenchoakroubo (or so we're told.)

Incidentally, we have opened an Instagram account, specifically for sharing pics from the FORP (since we have little time to blog during the build.) But don't expect much after that. No vignetted pics of frothy pints, no Kodachrome-esque images of our neighboor's cat, no desaturated shots of our oatmeal. We can only handle so much of the digital world before we feel like programs under the heel of the MCP.

Monday, September 14, 2015


As the FORP II approaches, we're getting excited to share another epic bench build. Which reminded us of the FORP I video we posted a couple years ago. What fun (mingled with not a small bit of agony) to reminisce the FORP I.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What Matt Makes With Our Vises

There are moments here at Benchcrafted that make all our shortcomings and errors melt away like the morning dew. We're about to share with you one of those moments.

A few weeks ago we were contacted by a long time local customer Matt Sullenbrand asking if we'd like to stop by and see some of his handiwork.We knew Matt from several years ago when we delivered a set of vises to his shop, located at that time in the attic space of an old coach house attached to a Victorian-era brick Bed and Breakfast his in-laws were operating. Matt was working exclusively with hand tools, and had nearly finished a Roubo-style bench and was also putting the finishing touches on a very well-detailed treadle lathe. I was shocked that someone in this area was following the lead of Underhill and Follansbee. Iowa is the home of the Kreg Jig after all. (I do use my Kreg Jig, by the way!)

We knew from sporadic email contact that Matt had been dabbling in making keyboard instruments, but that was a few years ago, and most of our conversations were about tools and old machinery.

What we saw at Matt's simply stunned us. In just a few years, Matt had become a full-fledged Harpsichord maker.

This particular example was jaw dropping. We have a soft spot for musical instruments, and this one didn't disappoint.

The lower keys are made from boxwood, topped with gabon ebony, with bone caps on the upper keys. Hand printed paper decorates the key well.

The main case is made from poplar, and is pinned together with oak pegs. The underside is plainly finished, as is the outside of the rest of the instrument, which is finished with a traditional process using gesso and natural pigments. The outside is not finished to a high level of refinement, but possesses a more "working" look. It balances nicely with the highly refined key well and area of the soundboard, which is made of spruce.

Matt makes every aspect of the instrument except the jacks (the parts that hold the plectra) which are made by specialists using pear and holly wood. Traditionally, the plectra were made of horn, but nowadays acetal plastic (Delrin) is used. Unlike a piano, which uses felt-covered hammers to strike the strings, on a  Harpsichord depressing a key plucks the string, much like a lute or guitar. There is no dynamic control on a Harpsichord, you get one volume level from each key. So playing more keys sounds louder (since more strings are getting plucked.) Complex pieces generate a cacophonous, yet ordered sound from the instrument. It's a sounds that will put a smile on anyone's face.

Regrettably, I didn't take notes during our visit, so I don't remember a lot of the construction details. But if you have questions, ask them below and I'm sure Matt would be happy to answer.

Hopefully we'll make it back to see Matt's shop sometime in the future. The craft of luthiery is always a fascinating one, and there are many workholding lessons us furniture makers can learn from those who practice the craft.

Thanks Matt for the wonderful opportunity to see your work.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

We're changing our name to Benchcrafted's House of Suede

Judging by the number of orders over night we're in the wrong business.  The coveted Box O' Suede is long ago sold out.  We're afraid to report most of you will be getting prompt refunds later today.

Who knew.