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Saturday, August 24, 2013

The French Oak Plate 11 Bench: Finished


On a late night last week I walked slowly from my office to the shop carrying the final piece of my French Oak Plate 11-style workbench: the letterpress-printed-on-hand-made-paper label made by Wesley Tanner. It was a bittersweet moment, and at the same time entirely satisfying.

What started almost three years ago ended as I pasted the label onto the underside of my bench, guarded by a layer of shellac to prevent the oak's tannins from feeding on the paper over the rest of the century (and perhaps beyond.)

As the FORP drew to a close last month, and during the final days of my own bench's completion, I spent a lot of time thinking about why I wanted to build this bench, and why we as a company would choose to organize an event centered around an object that promotes or incorporates virtually none of our own products, and certainly not visibly. We never second-guessed our motivations, but from a business standpoint there were some moments of head scratching. But moments after I had pasted the label onto the wood, shut the shop lights off, letting my eyes adjust to the moonlight pouring through the window and washing over the benchtop, I knew we had done the right thing. This bench was a tribute to Roubo, his incredible dedication to the craft, and the great legacy that he left us through L'Art du Menuisier. Without Roubo's elemental bench and its influence, Benchcrafted vises would not exist. This bench will forever be a source of inspiration for everything we do from here on out at Benchcrafted. We tip our hats to M. Roubo.

Here are some details of my finished bench.

Material: French Oak

Length: 110"

Width: 17-3/4"

Height: 34" (2" lower than my main Roubo)

Top Thickness: 5-1/2"

Top surface: flattened by hand, final traversing pass for texture with cambered iron.

Finish: One light coat of oil-varnish (Minwax Antique Oil)

Ironwork: Peter Ross

Workholding: holdfast and hole layout, planing stop and leg vise directly from Plate 11. Leg Vise threading and tapping by Nick Dombrowski, Lake Erie Toolworks. Crisscross mechanism by us.

I've already used my bench a few times to make some bench hooks from some of the French oak offcuts. The toothed planing stop, which I've never had on a bench before, has been a real surprise. For repetitive work, it it lightning fast. I will likely install one on my other Roubo bench from 2008.

One thing I will take away from this project that I doubt I'll ever get a chance to repeat. The camaraderie that I experienced with the other FORP participants. That is something I'll always be reminded of when using this bench.






























19 comments:

  1. Wonderful.

    So many of us shared these sentiments as we watched the benches come together. I'm thankful for the technology that is supporting this exploration of an ancient craft worth preserving.

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  2. CONGRATULATIONS!. AT THE END AND 'WAS CARRIED OUT THIS WONDERFUL YOUR PROJECT. ONE THING, MAYBE FOR MY TASTE, A LITTLE 'NARROW, unfortunately NOT PERFECTLY AND COMPACT FOR ITS SMALL CRACKS AXIS USED TO MAKE THE BENCH. WE KNOW THIS, IS NOT ALWAYS PERFECT ESPECIALLY WHEN USING A SINGLE AXLE. And SHAME ABOUT THE LACK OF AXIS ANGLE UNDER THE VICE. OTHERWISE THE PROJECT IS THE SAME WAY BEAUTIFUL. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF YOU. AND THANKS FOR SENDING MAIL TO ALL THESE WONDERFUL. -
    P.S. AS ALWAYS MI SORRY FOR MY ENGLISH, BUT EVERY TIME I answer MAIL TO, USE GOOGLE TRANSLATOR. - MY DUE TREATS. -
    MR PHILIP LAI

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  3. Just fantastic Jameel-thanks for sharing the journey with the rest of us.

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  4. Gorgeous!

    Just... shouldn't there be a crochet? Or does the vise obviate it?

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    1. The leg vise does everything and more that a crochet does, so yes, nobody did a crochet (that I'm aware of)

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  5. What an accomplishment . I too feel something on my " bucket list " has been done even though it wasn't on my list until I met you. I know now why you didn't want to complete yours during FORP-there just wasn't enough time to make it as perfect as you did using your own sweet time with every detail at home.
    IT IS BEAUTIFUL !

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  6. Jameel, very inspiring, congratulations.
    Greg

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  7. I'm finding it hard to to use expletives. Very well done, awesome in fact. I feel I have just got out of a DeLorean and ended up in Roubo's workshop, Great Scott Marty!

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  8. A while ago, I said that I knew that I would one day really regret not being able to take part in this. You're not helping.

    Serious question: what is the center piece of wood between the runners for the drawer for? It's not in your post about the drawer, and it seems a bit too elaborate in its shape for it to be a simple stop.

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    Replies
    1. Ah yes, forgot to mention. That's a stop. Enough flex in the thin piece to push it up to remove the drawer. Rest position just hits the top edge of the drawer back.

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  9. Love that wax block drawer-thingy! Is that from plate 11? Pretty neat.

    - Matt

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  10. What finish was used?

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  11. Its a thing of beauty Jameel. Congratulations on a life changing build. Good choice on the wax til. That is one of the most useful things I added to my Roubo. I throw a oil charged rag in mine too in addition to the wax block.

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