Monday, May 31, 2010

Reason To Smile

We can't help but get a big goofy grin on our faces when folks send us pictures like this. This gentleman is obviously thrilled with his new Benchrafted Split-Top Roubo, and we're thrilled that he's thrilled!

This bench is the work of master craftsman Frank Strazza, instructor at the CFEE School of Woodworking in central Texas.

The bench was commissioned by Dave, the gentleman pictured above, who uses the bench in an extra room in his home (you read that right, now don't be jealous!) to build violins.

Strazza did an outstanding job building the bench. And it's no surprise. His furniture making skills are highly developed. This Federal style desk was built by Strazza and won top honors at the Texas Furniture Maker's Show. Read more about this desk at Fine Woodworking Magazine's website.

Thanks Frank, for choosing Benchcrafted vises and plans. We're honored to have such a great craftsman use our products.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

News and Updates- The Benchcrafted Shaker Bench

We've been getting some emails about lead times and when customers can expect to see their vises. We've been right around 6 weeks for some time and we are working diligently to get that whittled back down to our previous 2-3 week lead time. One reason for this is that we've been having some quality issues with our handwheels. When we updated the Benchcrafted Tail Vise a couple months ago we changed handwheels and initially were quite pleased with the quality. A number of customers received vises with these hand wheels (the one pictured above, and currently pictured on the website). The second run of these wheels, however, was totally unacceptable. We were only able to use 5% of that batch and the rest were rejected. In order to maintain our lead times (and obviously not extend them further) we're now using our original hand wheel (pictured below) for all BC Tail Vises. The quality is the same as its always been: excellent. Ultimately we'll have vises in inventory and there will be no lead time. For now that's our goal and we'll make sure and let you all know when this happens.

In the Works: The Benchcrafted Shaker Bench

Earlier this year we helped Ron Brese build a new woodworking bench for his personal shop. For more about this bench, see this post.

At the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events in Tampa, FL and Atlanta,, GA Ron brought his new bench for displaying and demonstrating his line of hand planes. As he predicted, he got as many inquiries about the bench as he did about planes. So in the coming months we'll be drawing up plans for a Shaker-style bench very much like Ron's. One feature it will have: The Glide hardware will mimic Ron's layout. It will be completely hidden within the cabinet. We think Ron's installation is so clever that we just had to go with it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A New Roubo and the J. Kirkpatrick Bench

This week at Benchcrafted we're building a new version of a Roubo bench completely outfitted with Benchcrafted vises. We do build benches on commission from time to time, and this particular client wanted a solid top, not a split-top. He also gave us some liberties with certain aspects of the bench. So for this bench we're building the base entirely from some very nice 12/4 Ash that we've been holding on to for a few years. There will be no laminated parts in the base of this bench.

In Andre Roubo's bench description from "The Art of the Joiner" the legs for a typical bench are about 3" x 6". (read more about this at the Lost Art Press blog, where Chris Schwarz and team are working on an English translation of Roubo's monumental text) Lots of Roubo benches being built feature legs that are closer to 5" x 5". The one Roubo to rule them all utilizes legs in this dimension and it works quite well (our prototype Roubo was built with them) However, this requires a lamination for most stock, extra preparation labor and time. This does add some weight to the bench. A wider leg like the 3" x 6-5/8" legs on this bench will increase racking resistance along the length of the bench, and additional short upper stretchers drawbored to the front and rear legs will make the end assemblies even more rigid.

See the engraving above from Roubo. The bench in the lower half of the picture shows legs that look more square in cross section, while the bench on top features legs that look more rectangular. This bench will also feature a knock-down base using Benchcrafted Barrel Nuts. Look for more info here later this week.

In the meantime, grab a cold drink and head over to the Talk Festool forum where Jim Kirkpatrick has been documenting his Split-Top Roubo build in great detail. Jim's unique use of Festool equipment is reason enough to take a look.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chicago Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event

Well it took entirely too long to process these photos. We had a great time, as usual visiting Jeff Miller's shop for the annual Hand Tool Event. The event was well attended and we were happy to get the chance to see all our Chicago friends. This is one show we intend never to miss.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Inner Sanctum!

We recently returned from the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event in Atlanta. The event was held at Peach State Lumber, a place we cannot say enough about (more on them and the Hand Tool Event in a future blog post).

The usual subjects were in attendance but one of the highlights of our trip was a short visit to Czeck Edge Hand Tool. Bob Zajicek was kind enough to show us his workshop which close friends refer to as the Operating Room. Bob is an engineer for Lockheed Martin and it shows. You could eat off the surfaces in his shop. I'm almost certain one of those Looney Tunes automated house cleaning robots comes out every time a shaving hits the floor!

Bob was nice enough to give us a turning demo while we were there. Needless to say, as evidenced by his exemplary offering of tools, Bob knows what he is doing. We were awed by Bob's ability and steady hand at the lathe even with, ahem, one or two carbonated beverages in him.

There is no doubt Bob is a master craftsman who cannot fail to impress, especially in his own environment. Thanks for giving us a peek Bob.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Don't Miss This One - Atlanta, GA

See planemaker Ron Brese's gorgeous Shaker bench with Benchcrafted Vises in Atlanta next week.

Join us next weekend in Atlanta, GA for two days of hand-tool centric demos and camaraderie.

Lie-Nielsen Toolworks is putting on a Hand-Tool Event at Peach State Lumber May 7-8. Here's the nitty-gritty.

Friday May 7, noon-6
Saturday May 8, 10-5

Peach State Lumber, Kennesaw, GA

Brese Plane
Czeck Edge Hand Tool
Society of American Period Furniture Makers
Steve Quehl of the local Woodcraft Supply, along with Greg Blake, demoing Krenov-style plane making with Hock blades. Woodcraft Atlanta is a Benchcrafted dealer.
Chris Schleier of Colonial Chair Company
Highland Hardware, Atlanta's well-known woodworking shop (also a Benchcrafted dealer)
and of course, Lie-Nielsen Toolworks


Watch this. Need we say more?