Monday, July 11, 2011

Shaker Bench Plans--Now Available

After almost a year, our Shaker bench plans are finally ready.

Last week, draftsman extraordinaire Louis Bois and I pored over the umpteenth iteration of the prints to make sure everything was accurate and clearly understandable. I think we're darn close on both counts. Louis is a perfectionist. If a certain line weight is off, he can't let it slide. Not even a little. So these plans have taken longer than we anticipated. But they have been worth the wait. We're extremely pleased with Louis' work.

This set of plans posed some challenges. How do you illustrate the carcase construction in a clear, easy to follow manner? Louis and I went back and forth over this for a couple weeks before our ideas met. While writing the instructional text for the plans I included pictures of the carcase construction at each major step. And that's when Louis' mind clicked.


Louis and I are about the same age, and both grew up immersed in Lego building. So our minds, thousands of miles apart, were on the same page.

Show each step of the carcase, with each consecutive step adding parts to the previous step. This way the builder would see exactly in what order to build, and where every part goes.

We grayed out the previous steps' parts, leaving the parts to be added in black. Easy peasy.

For these plans we're adding a page at the end in full color, printed on a spiffy new Océ Colorwave 600 large-format printer. Our printer just installed this machine last week. It uses wax-based toner pearls (think crayons) that leave a lovely sheen in the color. In fact, as I write this these pages are being printed off.

The last page of the plans will feature some gorgeous 3-d renderings from Louis that not only look incredible, but also help explain how the bench goes together. Right now I'm wondering what some of the old Shakers would think of this? I think they would embrace it. It's efficient, simple, and beautiful.

The Shaker Bench Plans are $36, including shipping anywhere in the USA and Canada. You'll receive the construction notes PDF (35 pages) which includes written instructions and building techniques, along with the 3d E-drawing file within 24 hours of ordering, by email. The E-drawing is a CAD file that lets you see the bench on your computer in full 3-d (you need software, but its a free and easy download. Less than five  minutes, tops.) You can move the bench, take it apart, make parts transparent or hidden, even measure each part. It's a nice way to explore the bench away from the large prints. Then later in the mail you'll receive six pages of 20x30 prints rolled in a cardboard tube. Plans will start shipping July 19.

We're also offering Benchmaker's Packages for the Shaker bench. You get both vises, complete plans, and hardware to build the Shaker Bench. Everything you need except wood (and some common fasteners.)  You save $42 if you buy the package. Lead times for Benchmaker's Packages are dependant on vise lead times. Right now that's about 4 weeks.

To preview the construction notes, download the first six pages HERE.

And since I know some of you will wonder, the background on the construction notes cover page was taken from this 1920's photograph of a Shaker workshop at Mt. Lebanon, New York. The beautifully-crafted lathe is particularly nice.


  1. The pdf teaser of the plans looks absolutely stunning! I'm a long ways out on building a bench like this, but it's pretty much at the top of my list!

    About the only thing I might want to change is more drawers rather than the two cabinets... but it probably wouldn't be too hard to add some roll-out trays behind those doors.

    I've got plenty of time to think about it, at any rate. Hopefully lots of people send in more pics of their finished Benchcrafted / Shaker benches!

  2. Space constraints in my townhouse garage/Workshop have sold me on the Shaker bench. One thing that I'm fairly curious about is the possibility of using casters to be able to move the bench out of the way. The obvious short comings of this idea: racking and stress on the joinery seem workable; would anyone like to point out other flaws to my idea?


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