Friday, 29 July 2011

First WorkBench

The Chicken & The Egg Workbench Conundrum...

As its been sunny lately and the room I intend to use isn't quite ready, I have been using a scrap piece of kitchen worktop placed on the garden table as a makeshift bench to clean & sharpen up my tools.

I was considering using the same piece of worktop and maybe knocking together some rough saw horses for it to go across as a slightly more rigid bench solution. However, it seems I would still be wrestling with clamps holding more clamps to hold a work piece. While I'm sure its doable it's far from ideal - much like previously living on a boat!

I could try and build a bench myself, but lets face it with my skills and no other bench to build it on, I'm not sure its going to be any better than the saw horse solution.

Therefore, after much deliberation and reading, I have decided that the best thing (for me) is to buy a beginner bench.

This bench at only £126 seems pretty cheap and despite a few poor reviews must be more sturdy than the other solutions, especially if I can butt it up against a wall. It includes two vices and other work holding devices. I don't think I could build anything better for the price.
A friend introduced me to Axminster Tools and it took less than 5 minutes to sign up and pay for this little beauty, with free next day delivery! While I don't expect it will be as solid or rigid as a professional bench, for the price I don't think it can be beaten as a beginner bench. If the woodworking bug really takes hold then obviously I'd like to build my own full size bench at some stage but by then I would know what I'm doing (hopefully) and probably wouldn't be working out of a tiny spare room.

Beginning Tool Collection

Here is a list of my wood working specific tools which I am starting out with.

Tools I inherited with the boat which I have removed rust, serviced and cleaned as best as possible in WD40 & light oil:

3 x Small F-Clamps
3 x Medium F-Clamps
Panel Saw ~10tpi rip (Old Self Sharpen Style)
12" Back Saw ~12tpi rip (Old Self Sharpen Style)
Bit & Brace (with ratchet function)
Egg Beater Hand Drill - (broken handle)
Small Hammer
3 Wood Rasps (Flat, Half Round & Round)
12Pc Carving Set (looks cheap)
7pc Hole Cutter Set 32 - 70 mm
Spade Drill Bits - 28, 25, 23, 16, 13, 12 mm
Forstner Drill Bits - 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 mm
Various Lip & Spur (Brad Point) Bits
Wood Plug Cutters & Bits

After some time reading about wood working online and learning about tools and their specific uses, I decided about 6 months ago during one of my visits to the U.K I should purchase a few new tools to compliment those above and try to 'have a go' while living on my boat in the Caribbean. The tools remained untouched aside from a few Pre-Atlantic crossing boat preparations and repairs and have only just now been unpacked.

Everything came from my local ScrewFix store and I have provided links.

3m Imperial / Metric Tape Measure
12" Steel Ruler

I do own other assorted none specific tools such as screw drivers, files, pliers and spanners, etc, all of which I'm sure will come in useful along the way.

Tools I now realise I will probably need soon are some layout tools such as marking gauges and a good marking knife. More importantly, before anything else I need to sort out my space with some form of bench. Who knows at some point I might even get some wood as well.

Thursday, 28 July 2011


Welcome to my new blog ...

So what's all this about? Well, wood working has been an interest of mine for quite some time, but living on a small boat doesn't really (in my opinion) lend itself to a suitable environment - not for a complete beginner anyway. Now I am land based and living in a house with a 'free' room I have the perfect opportunity.

Why blog? Up to this point I have been an avid armchair wood worker, 'All the Gear and No Idea!'. But I have found that reading other peoples blogs has helped me learn some of the theory behind wood working. So if other people just starting out can learn anything from me or most likely my mistakes then it's worthwhile. Also, by documenting my progression it serves as a motivator to continue when things go wrong, not to mention input and comments from readers.

So where are we? Like I said I own a small number of hand tools, some inherited from my boat and some purchased new. The tools that came with the boat are a bit old and not in the best condition, most being rusty. I will spend some time cleaning and trying to make these usable. The new tools have never been used and are still preserved in polythene bags smeared with Vaseline - tools rust on boats! I will post in detail about the tool collection soon.

The initial plan is to sort out a work area with some kind of bench. Store and (learn to) sharpen my tools. Then make a few small bench tools as beginner projects.

Anyway, the first post has been made - here we go!