The Shop

Building the Shop

I completed construction of the shop in 2011.  The first floor houses my benches and the machinery, the second floor is for drafting and design, photography, and storage.  Changes or additions to the shop that I think may be of interest will be posted on this page.

Leg Vise

It has only taken four or five years, but I finally retrofitted a leg vise to my workbench. I had been dissatisfied with my previous face vise and wanted to try a leg vise but faced the issue of my bench legs being inset from the edges of the bench. Turned out this wasn’t overly difficult to “engineer” around. I used hardware from Benchcrafted.com and couldn’t be happier with it. Nice machining, good instructions, quality stuff all around. I think I am going to be happy with it. I like the narrower vise face (8 inches vs 14 old) and I followed their recommendation to line the face with leather, which they provide. Nice grip with only a little pressure on the wheel, very flexible in what it can grab hold of. Big thumbs up.

Leg Vise

Veneer Press

I was finally motivated to build a veneer press midway through a series of projects requiring veneering. After using it a few times, I am oh so glad that I did!

The press will accomodate a 24″ x 48″ panel under the screws. I departed from tradition and left the sides open so that I can still use the press on somewhat larger and or odd shaped panels (e.g. demi-lune top) by using handscrews to clamp whatever hangs out over the edges. The bed is two sheets of 3/4 MDF and I usually use at least 2 layers of 3/4 MDF on top as well. There is a cross member under the bed that corresponds to each row of screws. The cross members combined with the diagonal bracing to the center of the bed should limit any deflection of the bed under pressure. I plan on getting aluminum sheet stock to go on either side of the panel being veneered, but MDF and wax paper or plastic sheeting has been working so far.

Most of the veneering that I do is hammer veneering using hot hide glue. I have done it for years without hot cauls and the results are generally fine, but there can be problems. I recently installed an oven in the shop so now I can pre-heat the cauls, hammer the veneer, place it in the press and the hot cauls re-melt the glue under the press. The results are glass smooth panels. Really impressive for a guy who has always just hammered down veneer. I now understand why old references talk about using hot cauls – easier to consistently get excellent results.

The two shelves below the bed are for storing cauls and blocking within easy reach.

Veneer Press

Banding or Inlay

While finishing up a couple of projects, I have had some time over the last couple of weeks to make up some bandings. Bandings are always kind of fun, at least if you like a lot of razzle dazzle in a small package. Because I am frequently asked if you put all those little pieces in one by one, I thought I would post some pictures. The first is a photo showing the finished bandings where you can see the widths. I make the glue-ups as wide as stock and machinery allow. Once you are at this point you can just rip off a 1/32 or so slice and glue it into an appropriately sized groove in your project.
The second photo shows the profiles of the various bandings. Importantly, notice that they are usually made up in layers and that you are looking at long grain. The last photo shows the bricks that are made up then sliced, sometimes at an angle, in order to make up the various layers of the banding. I think you can figure it out from here!