Thursday, March 15, 2012

Less Dreaming, More Building

Vise chop, before parallel guide
That's my New Year's Resolution for 2012.

And that's why I've had so much stick-to-it-tiveness with this workbench build.

Several months ago, I realized that I don't have a whole lot of projects to show for my 20 years as a woodworker. Twenty years! I should have built enough things to fill a house.

Instead, I've spent a good deal of time thinking about the things I'd like to build.

I'll be 48 this summer, which means I may have a good 20+ years of woodworking in my future (or 40, if my genes are anything like Sam Maloof's).

And I intend to pack the next 20 years with loads of wood shavings.

Here are progress shots of my Roubo build. I'll start on the long stretchers this weekend.

Parallel guide profile.


Tom Stephenson said...

I certainly identify with this post, Kari. I'm 52, and life is short. I'm planning out my projects and making sure that I don't dilly dally too much. I've been taking stock of all I've built and I want to make sure I leave behind some sign that I was here and something for future generations to enjoy. I think that's a driving force behind a lot of woodworking and woodworkers.

Kari Hultman said...

I agree, Tom. We want our pieces to be around long after we're gone, and hope that the next generations will find value in them.

Frontier Carpenter said...

That's a bench with personality

upriver said...

i can't help but notice how crisp the holes in your parallel guide are. Any particular method other than being careful?

Jason said...

Hi Kari:

Thanks for the update on your bench! I have been following your progress as I build my own Roubo inspired bench. I made it by hand (my first woodworking project) and finished the main bench a few days ago. Working on the leg vice now with a shelf to follow. The top of mine is ash and the base is cherry. The leg vice will be out of quilted maple. The whole project started with slabs of wood that still had the bark attached! You have been an inspiration as I plugged along. Thank you! I look forward to your next post!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kari,

I've noticed there is no crochet on your new bench.

I was planning on building a small Roubo style bench with a crochet but I'm not sure if it's really necessary. The bench I plan on building will only be 5' in length.. that's all I have room for. I was planning on attaching a crochet and front leg vice but I'm not sure I have enough room on a 5foot bench. Do you have any benches with crochets? Should I omit the crochet?


pjped said...


What a beautiful, original, and strong looking bench.
I'm turning 47 this summer, and boy, can I relate!
I think you have a remarkable body of work already, I would be very proud to have done half of what you have, and half as nicely.
I can't stop looking at that leg vise, a classic!



will said...

Back in the day I spent time visiting Maloof ... I swear he could build a chair waiting for his wife to get ready for church.

ChrisHasFlair said...

Hi Kari,

Your bench looks solid and elegant. Nice work.

Chris, who dreams as he builds if it is safe to do so.

Brian said...

I did my parallel guide the same way, just cut the mortise to the same size as the board for the guide. But after I got it done and the glue cured, I put it on the bench and then looked at it, and thought Brian, why didn't you cut shoulders on that through tenon. Because if you look at it, when you tighten the screw on a piece of stock, the leverage wants to drive the board out the face of the vice leg. I looked at the glue surface in the joint and figured it'd be OK, but pinned it through the side for good measure. But even just the other day I was out using it and that joint still bugs me, but not enough to cut it out and do it over. :-) Cheers, Brian

Kari Hultman said...

FC, thank you. :o)

Upriver, the first one I made in maple had major tearout, even with a backer board. I remade it in cherry and used the same forstner bit, but drilled through both sides rather than all the way through from one side. I also used the drill press. Made a huge difference.

Jason, that's quite a challenging build for your first project—especially building it entirely by hand! It sounds like it will be gorgeous and sturdy with your wood choices.

Wanda, I've never used a crochet, but I *think* they were used on benches that did not have a vise. It seems to me that it's not necessary if you have a vise on your bench. They are cool looking, though. By the way, my bench is just under 5' long.

Thanks, Pete!

Bill, Sam is one woodworker I would have liked to have met. He seems like he was very down to earth.

Chris, just as long as you're daydreaming—not sleep dreaming—while you build, you should be okay.

Brian, I wondered about the strength of that joint, too, and figure I can always repair it if it comes loose. I get the impression that you don't have to clamp all that hard to secure a workpiece. Cross-pinning is a good solution.

Rob said...

What a superb bench! Does the top of the leg vise stand higher than the bench top?

Thinking isn't time wasted. How often have I not thought things through suficiently - well, too often!

Kari Hultman said...

Rob, I still need to trim the top off the vise chop. It's about 1/4" too high at this point. I also need to plane the tops of the legs so they're flush with the benchtop.

Kari said...

I have another year till retirement at 55. My pension won't be great as a result of the early out but I need/want to create out more time for the wood stuff. Dreams will die with you so this is a good reminder that one needs to live it now.

Jonathan Szczepanski said...

That bench looks great Kari! Do you know how heavy it is?


Kari Hultman said...

Indeed, Kari. :o)

Jonathan, I think each top board is around 20 pounds. Each of the two leg assemblies probably weigh 40 pounds. The leg vise might be 10 pounds. The two long stretchers probably each weigh 5 pounds. So, about 140 pounds. Heavy enough that it doesn't move easily, but I can still move it around when needed. The important thing is I can assemble and disassemble it by myself. whew.

Shannon said...

Well said maestra! I think we can all stand to do more building and less dreaming

James Vavra said...

Kari - the bench looks fantastic! I like how the leg vise mimics your handmade level.


Anonymous said...


I just turned 57 last week (which leaves me with only 40 years or so to make more neat stuff), and this week there was an announcement for a new early retirement initiative. Coincidence? hmmmm

Alas in recent years I have been making more with words than wood, but the balance is coming back.

BTW a good bench is a treasure for a lifetime and probably lifetimes yet to come. My at-home bench is now 30 years old, modified occasionally over the years, and a constant joy to use every time. It is very different than yours because of my projects, but it is still a perfect platform for the projects for which it was designed. May you find the same satisfied contentment with yours.

Don Williams

Kari Hultman said...

Shannon, I figured that would resonate with many of us.

James, someone else pointed that out to me. Funny--they do have some similarities!

Don, happy belated birthday! Early retirement and 40 more years of woodworking and writing sounds pretty awesome. :o)

Woodbloke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Woodbloke said...

Hi Kari - nice bench, not sure about the fancy leg vice thingie though.

I've just retired and I can guarantee that if you'e a woodworker with a good 'shop, it's the best job you'll ever have.

Get out there and make stuff! - Rob

John Griffin-Wiesner said...

Whoa. I made a very similar resolution, have a Roubo bench next on my project list, and also turn 48 in a couple months. Separated at birth? ;-)

Though my Roubo-top will have no split, and your stick-to-it-tiveness appears much stronger than mine, so maybe not.

Love the curves on your leg vise.

Kari Hultman said...

Rob, congratulations on your retirement! Lucky you. :o)

John, a looming deadline is helping to spur me on with this bench, otherwise I probably wouldn't be so far along. Good luck with your Roubo!

property Perth said...

Wow! I love the foot. It is so stylish and gives personality on the bench.

Riverside Plumbing said...

Beautiful bench indeed Kari.. I can see that you have so much passion on what you are doing. By the way what kind of wood does your bench made of?