Friday, October 29, 2010

The Benchmaker's Apprentice

The Benchmaker's Apprentice--A project to build the Benchcrafted Split-Top Roubo Bench. The Benchmaker, Jameel Abraham, of course, and the Apprentice, me, John(Hunna) Abraham. I will embark on this mission with the assistance of the Benchmaker himself.

My woodworking experience does not begin here, though. Since I was six years old (I am now 16), I have been helping my uncle, Jameel, out in the shop. I also work part-time for Benchcrafted and have attended three Woodworking in America conferences and one Lie Nielsen event as an exhibitor.

But, enough about me. Over the next few weeks/months/years/centuries, however long it takes me to complete the bench, I will work almost every weekend to finish, and my trusty camera will be there the whole time to update everybody[cricket noise] on the status of the project.

After contemplating about what the bench should be made of, I decided to go with a mix of poplar and ash. The ash will be used for the bench top, leg vise leg, sliding deadman, and the deadman track. Poplar will be used for the rest of the bench and will be painted. We had some large pieces of ash laying around so the bench top material was covered, but for the poplar, I drove down to my local wood supplier and picked up these fine pieces.

Since most people work from the bottom up, at least I think that's how they built the Empire State Building, we will begin with the legs of the bench. The piece of poplar you see above is what I will be using to build the legs.

I used this old hand saw to chop this board down into 4 pieces for the legs. The saw, sharpened by Mark Harrell over at Bad Axe Tool Works, cut great and went through the wood like butter.

This picture marks the beginning of a bench project, there is no turning back now.

The first rule of joining: be square, or be square... cheesy, I know.

Now that we have a couple jointed sides, lets do some planing.

After a little work, we have some dang near perfect square legs.


  1. Hunna,

    Great project! Nice blog posts and photos as well. This workbench is quite a leap from string caddys, bird houses and MagBloks! I can see that you remembered some of the ww'g tips and techniques I passed on to you at WIA! Keep up the great work and I'm looking forward to following your progress.

    Cheers, Bob

  2. Hey Hunna,

    Way to go. Those crickets certainly won't be chirping for long at this rate! Keep listening to your uncle, except when he says stuff like, "Make me a sammich." I'll also be following your project. Catch you later.

  3. Hello Hunna,

    Is this going to be your own personal bench? What kind of work do you do for Benchcrafted?
    This will be a fun build to follow. Good luck.

    Tico Vogt

  4. This is going to be a great project and you'll learn a bunch thru the process of building a bench. Having had the opportunity to work with Jameel I'll be the first to say that you couldn't have picked a better teacher to apprentice. He knows his stuff and then some.

    Ron Brese

  5. Good luck with the bench - I look forward to following along.

  6. Tico, I do a little bit of everything for Benchcrafted, and right now, I'm not sure where the bench will end up, it's really just a way to gain a little more experience.

    Thanks everybody for the encouragement!

  7. It's about time you got some press time and the credit due John Jr! After all, you seem to be the only one minding the store most of the time at the WIA Conferences. Uncle Jameel is always busy wandering while your Dad is busy taking pictures! Couldn't think of better resources for your project than your Dad and Uncle though. Wonderful to see you getting your hands dirty. It will be great to see your work.

    Best of luck!


  8. Hunna

    Great project with some awesome teachers. I will follow along week to week. Thanks for sharing.


  9. Great to here so many people are interested.

    Thanks everybody.

  10. John,

    I am really looking forward to following the entire process.

    You seem to have picked up from both your dad and uncle.. a little photography and woodworking..

    Good job on the legs. You have them dead on square..



  11. Hi Hunna,

    Great work on the bench prep -- and your writing and photography are both very well done -- you should be proud of your work here.

    Strangely, I spent some very pleasant hours with some very talented people this weekend discussing the devaluing of craftsmanship in America. The major concern we shared was about where the 'next generation' would be able to find the inspiration and education to develop the skills and mindset to continue these traditions.

    Fortunately I have a good answer to that answer now.

    Looking forward to watching your progress!


  12. Thanks Raney.
    I'm not sure I am THAT good of an example, but I will try my best!

  13. looking forward to follow along as i am also building a bench. Whats the local wood supplier that you use im still in need of some more lumber for mine.

  14. Hunna,

    What a fantastic job you are doing and I can't wait to see more. I just wanted to assure you that yes the Empire State Building was built from the ground up. :o)


  15. Fred, so were the Pyramids. They took a little longer because Happy Meals weren't around then. Seriously, ask Andrew.


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