Monday, December 26, 2011

Unsolicited

Dear Benchcrafted,
 
Just thought I would drop you a note to let you know that I have completed my Shaker style bench All of the bencrafted items were outstanding in their finish and operation. From the great set of plans and 3D drawings, to the awesome Leg and Tail vise assemblies, everything was first class.
 
It took me about 5 months from the time I started work on my bench until completion, and the process was quite a learning experience.

Thanks again for all your help along the way....Here are some pictures of the finished product..

Joe Black











Friday, December 23, 2011

Big Wood Vise Back At It



I received a nice email last night from Joe Comunale, of Big Wood Vise. I used Big Wood Vise screws on my first Roubo bench build. This was before we were manufacturing vises here at Benchcrafted. If you like wood screws (and who doesn't for the classic look alone, plus they are extremely fast and hold like a Bull Terrier's maw) I recommend you look at Joe's new website. Just a few years ago it was near impossible to find good quality wood screws.


Joe's new screws are turned from rock hard maple, and are larger diameter and length than before. We don't do product reviews here at Benchcrafted, but Joe is a friend, and his connection with my first Roubo is a fond memory. Glad you're back, Joe.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tail Vise Instructions Update

A customer caught a bug in our Tail Vise instructions. We mistakenly deleted the sizes of the holes needed in the end cap for the Tail Vise.

So we not only updated the instructions to provide the hole sizes, we also added the holes sizes to the templates themselves, which should make it easy to drill those holes without leafing back through the instructions.

As always, all of our technical documents are available on our downloads page. 

Here is a direct link to the updated instructions.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Unsolicited

Dear Benchcrafted,
Since you guys helped me so much along the way I thought you might want to see the finished product. Very happy I decided to take this on. Thanks for all your help. I've learned (started, anyway) an incredible amount of skills just doing this bench. I am hooked.
Don Bursch







Saturday, December 10, 2011

Didn't quite make it

We do all our own photography and videography here at Benchcrafted.  Sometimes we get some good images, sometimes not.  Once in a while we get images that we like but aren't terribly useful.  The problem lies with steel.............steel and machined parts are very photogenic.  Here's a few just for fun.














Friday, December 9, 2011

Retrofit a European Style Bench With A Benchcrafted Tail Vise

What do you do if you have a European style workbench with a moving-block style tail vise and you want a Benchcrafted Tail Vise instead?

You do what customer John Dixon did. Bust our your woodworking tools and make it happen. You are, after all, a woodworker.

Follow along with John's pictorial step-by-step if you'd like to try this. We like his method. It's strong, and looks good.
















Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Romanian Moxon Bench-on-bench


Last week we received a nice email from one of our customers in Romania, Camil Milincu.

Camil is an avid follower of the American hand tool woodworking tradition. He's a hobbyist woodworker, and is a professional architect. He holds a master's degree in urban planning. His great-grandfather worked for the Ford motor company here in America during its formative years, and he credits him for passing along the interest in things hand-crafted. Coach work at Ford in the early days likely included lots of wood. But Romania also has a strong woodworking tradition, especially in carving. Camil is working on his architectural doctorate on the field of wooden architectural elements, which Romania is replete with.

Camil's Moxon bench-on-bench (in beech) is filled with nice details both aesthetic and functional. But aside from the large chamfer (with gorgeous bold lamb's tongues) for cutting half-blind dovetails (Camil claims "The Schwarz" beat him to the punch!) our favorite detail stems from a shipping mishap.

Earlier this year Camil ordered a Tail Vise for his Roubo bench project and it arrived with a broken hand wheel (it got replaced.) So in the interest of guaranteeing his Moxon wheels stay put, Camil added a snap ring to the end of each of his screws. They are practically invisible (see below, click to enlarge)

We've never had a problem with renegade hand wheels, but we think Camil's idea is a good one. If you have a concrete floor, and like to spin your wheels, you may want to implement this idea as well. Thanks Camil for the email and great idea.











Saturday, December 3, 2011

For Sale: L'Art Du Menuisier



A few weeks ago I located and purchased a copy of L'Art du Menuisier. This was a purchase that took a lot of thought, consideration, and frankly, money.

I've been itching to lay my hands on a copy of this work since I first saw Roubo's Plate 11 in Scott Landis' "The Workbench Book." But it's not exactly the type of book they have at Barnes and Noble. And my public library could not get a copy by inter-library loan. One event nailed the lid in the coffin for me to search out a copy of this book: Don William's presentation at this year's meeting of the "Roubo Society" at Woodworking In America.

But I have to back up a little bit more to complete the story. A couple nights before Don's presentation I was at a gathering at a friend's house with Louis Bois (the expert draftsman who does all of our bench plans), who had acquired a set of the modern, small format, softbound Roubo volumes. As we were struggling with carrying the books (and some others Louis had in tow) I mentioned to Louis that we needed to get together and peruse the books before the end of the weekend and all of us parted ways.

The next night Louis and I met in his hotel room, cracked open some Creemore Springs Premium Lager that Louis had brought from Canada, and proceeded to plunder the pages of Roubo into the wee hours of the night.

Louis is a native French speaker, so sitting down with Roubo was a unique experience for a monoglot like me.


I took volume four (L'Art du Menuisier Ebeniste) and opened a random page, plate 289 appeared. I had never seen this plate before. But something about it clicked. I started looking at the different processes presented in the engravings, the various workpieces, the jigs and tools. And it hit me. They were making furniture-scale parquetry. Something I am quite into. In fact, just last year I wrote an article for Popular Woodoworking Magazine on the subject.


As I turned the page and examined plate 290, my interest peaked. There in the engraving was a parquetry pattern quite reminiscent of a design I made about six years ago (above.) I turned to Louis, who was looking through his own volume, and asked him to translate the text for both plates. What a fascinating moment.


I returned to my room and thought about getting myself a copy of L'Art du Menuisier. But what really clinched the deal happened two days later at Don's presentation at the "Roubo dinner." As the meal was finishing up I was leaning back listening to Roy Underhill go over his speech (in French) with Louis, who were both sitting directly to my left. Don Williams, who was my host for the evening, (thanks again Don) began to speak softly and more seriously. I could tell he had switched gears and was mentally preparing for his presentation. I decided to make myself as invisible as possible and let Don concentrate on his presentation while I concentrated on my dessert.


Don began his presentation on the latest progress of the Lost Art Press Roubo translation, and as he moved further into the detailed (and funny) presentation he brought up a plate from Roubo on the slide projector. It was plate 289! It was at that very moment that I knew I had to have a copy of L'Art du Menuisier. After Don's presentation I mentioned to him what an amazing coincidence had taken place. It was an evening to remember.

So after returning home from WIA I spent the next couple weeks searching out a copy of the three huge volumes of L'Art du Menuisier. Some of you may know that a more modern version of these volumes is currently available in five separate softbound books. These are the volumes that Louis and I had read from at WIA. But these are a far cry from the original large format reprint that I found in a Paris bookstore in October. The large format volumes are rare (I was fortunate when I found mine), plus, they are positively Roubo-esque in size: 17" x 12" and over 10" thick over the three volumes, which together weigh almost 40 pounds. The large format volumes also feature numerous gatefolds: pages which fold out to two or three times normal size to reveal large, beautiful full-page engravings. They are simply magical to look at. I am inspired every time I open these volumes.

So here's the amazing part. When I found my set, I found another one too, in great condition. In the interest of making this set available to other Roubo fans here in America, I took a risk and bought it. Who knows how long these will be available? It shipped from France and arrived at my doorstep just a few days after my set. This is the original Paris reprint from 1976 (as is my copy), and not an original 1775 first edition. The latter goes for upwards of five figures. The 1976 version is decidedly less expensive.  If you are interested in owning not only a piece of history, but a source of unending creative inspiration, please drop me an email (jameel at benchcrafted dot com) and we can discuss the particulars.

These books are sold.