One of the great conundrums of woodworking is this simple fact: you need a workbench to build a workbench.
In fact, in order to build a proper workholding system replete with vises, rock-solid joinery, and a sturdy wood top, you also need a complete shop full of power tools to mill the wood to size, a fleet of clamps to laminate the top, and tons of experience to know how to use all that stuff in the first place. And to build it from hard maple or other appropriate wood, it'll cost at least $700 for the lumber alone.
Have you ever had to cook dinner at a friend's kitchen only to find out they don't even own a cutting board? Not only have I had that happen for me, I've noticed this kind of thing happening in my friend's workshops. It's easy to get caught up in making things and overlook some essential tools that can really help you get things done right. I thought I'd share a few tools I use almost every time I work on a new project. Some of these are almost laughable, but I guarantee some of you are going to read through these 6 tools and think to yourself, "Oh yeah, I need one of those."
What started as a backyard space-saving idea became a beautiful and versatile piece of furniture that's sure to inspire other convertible furniture ideas. Instructables.com user jordi D started with a couple of similar design ideas he'd seen online and then adapted them to fit his own specific aesthetic.
There are many reasons we DIY projects: saving money, customizing for the space, or to make something from quality materials without a particleboard heart. But never do we do it because we want it to look like a thrown-together project.
I have had a corner of my yard that just feels like wasted space. It isn't horribly ugly, it just doesn't really do anything. That’s where the thought of a fire pit corner was born. It’s only a 10’x10’ area, but with some careful planning, the space could be transformed into an area that draws people in, that simply assumes a nightcap is in order.
I recently lost a beloved church pew to several years of rot and water damage. Totally my fault, I didn't seal it properly. But, that's ok! It gives me a reason to build something new! On top of that, I thought I'd challenge myself.
Artist and designer Josh Rhodes came up with this quick and easy project: a warm and rustic piece of furniture, made in a single afternoon for less than $30 in easy-to-find materials. Done, done, and done!
I love a full-on, hardcore woodworking project: milling the wood from rough lumber to glass-smooth surfaces, careful design and proportions, and sturdy, hand-cut joinery to keep everything in place for many decades to come.
But that's a big commitment, requires a lot of knowhow and tools, and a can take several weeks of nights and weekends to finish. So, I'm equally a fan of any project that produces great results with solid materials but uses some more "woodworking light" techniques.
No more eating your dinner on the couch. Even if you can't afford, or have space for an heirloom quality dining table, you can outfit what ever space you've got with a proper eating space, DIY-style.
Artist, maker, and friend of ManMade Mr. Lentz details his process for making a sturdy and efficient workbench designed for all kinds of crafts and projects. The more projects I finish, the more I realize how essential a strong flat work surface is to every kind of endeavor, and that it should be among the first projects any creator takes on.
No matter what you make, you've gotta have a place to do it. And while you're dining room table might work for light projects, I say any serious maker, crafter, or artist needs a proper workbench.
When my neighbor, Gina, moved in next door, a standalone porch swing appeared on our shared patio. The thing was at least thirty years old, and had been outside for just as long, and showed the wear of snowy winters, blazing hot summers, and all the rainy days in between. Not that it was likely much to look at when it was new.
It was, in every way, an eyesore.
But, my goodness, if that thing wasn't useful. I'm sure I sat on it a good fifty times more often than she did. I took to enjoying my breakfast on it, and built a little morning routine around sitting outside, reading the week's New Yorker before I started my day. I used it to prepare for my bike rides: changing shoes, making adjustments, etc. And my friends and I would eat dinner out there, and watch thunderstorms. Boy, it was ugly, but it made me appreciate my patio, and got me out there frequently.
Then, Gina did the unthinkable: she got married, had a baby, and moved away. And, with her, away went the porch swing. And though I love my current neighbor (Hi Jillian!), she brought no shared furniture to the arrangement.
So, I figured it was time to make some outdoor seating of my own. For inspiration, I turned to the most iconic of mid-century bench designs, the Platform Bench by George Nelson (1946). It was created from easy-to-find 1x6" cedar decking, making it quite inexpensive to build, and safe for outdoor use.
Wanna make one, too? Okay, here we go...
No matter what your medium - art, illustration, sewing, knitting, soldering, voodoo doll making - you gotta have someplace to do it. Many of us work in basement, garages, offices, closets, kitchen tables, and from boxes in couches.
But, as I've advocated before, a designated workspace to store and organize your supplies, whatever they are, can help one be more productive and inspired.
I'm really digging this design by Randofo, which was built, in his words, as a
"simple work table for my home studio so that I could have a surface upon which to work and document projects. I tried to keep the design as simple as possible as I only have a limited arsenal of power tools, a small vehicle for transporting materials and little patience for woodworking."
I especially like the white surface - which is great for documenting and taking step-by-step photos. I wonder if the effect could be recreated with a secondhand, white dry-erase board supported by 3/4" plywood.