The top of the Anarchist’s Workbench wants 18 boards. Most of the base parts are done. Next the top.
Whoa, wait a minute, what’s happening? Why a new workbench? Longish story; shortish answer: we moved on June 10th this year. … from New York to Florida. We left many possessions in NY, into the hands of others. Among the things from my workshop there, I left behind that 12 foot long English bench, an infrequently used band saw, and a rag-tag bunch of clamps. (With moving costs based on weight, many heavy things can be replaced for less than the cost of moving them.) After a couple of other woodworking projects since moving in, I’m now getting a new workshop together, along with a new bench.
First a bit about the shop
We were very fortunate to find a home with a 3 car garage. This community is one where cars are kept inside garages, not on the streets, not in driveways. So, we have accommodations for both of our vehicles, and a 3rd bay that is becoming my new shop. This one is a few feet longer than the single car stall in the NY home and a LOT taller. We have 10 foot high ceilings throughout the house, including the garage. Since I like to keep tools “at hand” and not in tool chests, the ceiling height affords lots of wall space for mounting various tool racks. All I have to do now is learn to levitate to reach some of those tools.
One of the first things we did after purchasing this newly constructed home was to have the garage floors coated with Liquid Floors, a polyurea / polyaspartic coating that is tougher and more durable than the epoxy I had in the old shop. It’s an amazing coating that makes cleanup incredibly easy. Yep, cleaned the floor before taking these pictures.
You can see some of the things from the previous shop, lathe, lathe tool chest, carving tools, hollow and round planes, bowl carving horse and many other tools. Not everything is yet in a good place, but getting closer.
P.S. Thanks Megan for the sawbenches, the first shop furniture built in this shop.
It takes a bench…
…to build a bench. There’s a hastily assembled temporary workbench under the window. It’s a couple of 8 foot long 2 by 12s screwed to a few brackets that are attached to the concrete block wall. It offers enough space for prepping the wood for building a better bench. Workholding is sometimes a challenge, leading to a variety of ways to employ blocks screwed to the bench top combined with a few clamps.
It will definitely be temporary, because as much as it offers space, it is springy and boomingly loud. A good bench absorbs hammering as dull thudding sounds. This one booms loudly enough to be heard all over the neighborhood, and homes are close together here. It will eventually become the base for a lumber rack underneath the flag on the back wall of the shop.
BTW, those recumbent trikes get used every day. This community has a large number of golf courses and more golf carts per capita than NY has lawyers per capita. The trikes are our substitute for golf carts … and, no I don’t play golf. Been there, done that. And yes, those are retractable screens on the garage door openings. They keep the insects out and slow down the gators.
Anarchist Workbench in progress
I won’t try to sell anyone on this choice of bench. The sales page and over 100 pages of the book itself do that job. I was sold a long time ago, not because anything wrong with my earlier bench, but because I see this as the last bench a 77 year old woodworker will ever need.
Unlike the process recommended in the book, using power tools to prep the lumber, I’m doing it all by hand. Yep, staying active. Keeping the irons sharp in my scrub and #5 planes is key to the work moving along well. I also do glue-ups differently than what Schwarz suggests. He outlines planing a set of boards and then gluing them, something that can be done in a few hours with power planing. Hand planing isn’t nearly as fast, and letting 4 or 5 boards sit around for a few days while plaining others just gives them time to turn themselves into twizzler shapes. I glue-up any time a board is ready to add to the stack.
All of the base parts are done, and that left front leg now has the rough mortise refined into the correct dimensions for the Benchcrafted Crisscross vise, one of the heavy things I DID bring along.
Next, 18 boards for the top.
Why the move?
Short answer: New York, the state not the people, has been becoming increasingly burdensome / tyrannical / communist for many years and we just reached the point of “enough already!” My wife and I have been retired for a number of years, leaving fewer ties to the area. It was simply time to leave.
Florida provides us a real, palpable, feeling of freedom. We are free from government pandemania about our health decisions, and Florida’s COVID record proves the value of letting people rather than government make these decisions. Business is booming. People are enjoying their lives here; we’ve never lived in a place where total strangers we pass in the streets wave and say “hello.” Unemployment is very low. The state budget is under control. And we have great law enforcement without stupid bail policies.
Florida also has great weather (for the snow-adverse), an amazing variety of birds, alligators and other wildlife … and we go swimming in outdoor pools under sunny skies every day.