Can Workbench Legs be too Big?

Can Workbench Legs be too Big?

Jacques writes: I have your workbench book, and I am currently working on my version of the French bench. I had soft maple cut down from my woods, so I had it sawn, and I am working with it for the top. For the legs, a friend of mine gave me four beams that are about 9″ x 9″, out of some resinous wood. They are cracked and dry (must […]

The post Can Workbench Legs be too Big? appeared first on Popular Woodworking Magazine.


An Even Trade

I asked my friend how much he’d want to stain our deck and he said he had a better idea….

He has a small apartment and needed a computer center that also had some shelving for books, etc.

He already had a glass table top he wanted to make use of and there was a little used corner he thought would be a perfect place for it. As luck would have it, this corner’s back wall had a protruding 10″ deep ledge. and was at an acceptable height for our ‘desk’

This meant, in order for us to support the glass top, I only had to build a single lower cab to support the left side and simply attach a cleat on the right hand return wall to support THAT side of the top.

As the glass was only 42″ wide along it’s front edge, I had to build this cabinet somewhat narrow to allow a comfortable width for the sitting area.

So we made it only 12″ wide and I included a small drawer at the top. For fun, I made a hidden pocket on the backside of that drawer.

Then we made the shelving section, to sit above the counter, against the back wall.

He took a bar stool he already had and painted all three pieces to match.

I’ll build him a small swing out arm on the right hand wall to mount his monitor on so it can be swiveled out of the way when not in use.

I don’t think these photos will adorn the pages of ‘Fine Home Building’ magazine but… he’s a happy guy… & my deck is protected from the elements for another couple of years. Like a lot of ‘trades’ (no cash involved), this was a win-win.


Pedestrian Bridge

They lived in Ardsley, NY… which is a fairly well-to-do town less than an hour north of Manhattan.

Although this property, as it faced the road, was only 75 feet wide, it ran back almost 250 feet deep giving the owners quite a bit of land behind the house. The problem was that a little over half way back, a creek cut the property in two. The little ravine was 15 ft wide but fully 8 feet deep so getting to the rear section (behind the creek) was near impossible.

They needed a bridge… a pedestrian bridge which would allow easy access to the back section for lawn mowing, parties, throwing the ball around, etc.

I’m a cabinetmaker and during those rare times when I’m asked to make something whose structural integrity must carry the weight of people (decks, stairs, etc), I always make it much stronger & more substantial than I think it requires because a) I like the look and b) it will pass any safety test that way…

The following two renderings represented my vision for the bridge. I wanted an arbor over the walkway to which they would introduce vines. As the costs began to escalate, the client established a ceiling to the budget and I had to simplified the bridge (no arbor).

The following photos portray how we netted out. (For reference, my youngest son, Brian is almost 6’4″ tall.)



Two years later, the client confided in me that the project turned out so well, he wishes he’d payed the extra cost & included the arbor above.
Damn…. I would have loved to have built that original design…..

Russell Hudson / Hudson Cabinetmaking, Inc.



Classic Shoulder Plane

record 073

The Record # 073, from the eBay posting

Another milestone in my lifelong quest for excellent hand tools: a Record #073 shoulder plane. A little rusty but complete and completely restorable, purchased from England via eBay. These are the classic production steel shoulder planes, made 1933-1994, based on Edward Preston’s design, that eventually became the model for the current Lie-Nielsen shoulder planes. Four pounds, eight inches in length and 1-1/4″ wide, with an adjustable mouth, these beauties are capable of of incredibly fine cuts. Arguably Lie-Nielsen has made some subtle improvements in their model, but functionally there is no difference  –  and at less than half the cost, I’m very happy with the Record.

The plane arrived with just a light coating of surface rust on part of the body (no pitting). After completely dismantling the few parts, and a thorough cleaning, the rust was dispatched with a bit of steel wool and lube — leaving the patina typical of a fine tool well used and cared for.

Record 073

The Record 073 as-is upon arrival from England

Record 073

A light coating of corrosion, very manageable

Record 073

Record 073 stripped down for cleaning

Record 073

Record 073 restored and ready for action


Transitional Planes

The Stanley ‘transitional’ planes, combining a wooden body with a cast iron frame, frog and standard adjustment mechanism, were made between 1870 and 1940. You see these things pretty commonly in antique shops and flea markets. According to those in the know, they are not particularly valuable in the collectors’ market (which is why you see so many of them, and so few #1′s). Still, a plane is a plane and a potential working tool, so I set out to find a restorable one for a friend who had expressed an interest.

Stanley 26

The Stanley 26 in pieces

I ended up buying this #26, a 15″ plane that dates (a far as I can make out) from 1898 or so. I got it off eBay for about $25 (inc. shipping), maybe not as cheap as could be but the same you would expect to pay in an antique shop.

Stanley 26

"Parts is Parts"

The beech body was in very good shape, an exceptionally dense piece of timber that had none of the severe bottom scoring or end-checking often seen in these things. The metal parts were coated with light surface rust, but cleaned up nicely. Most of the remaining black ‘Japaning’ came off in cleaning, but that’s only important to collectors. The iron and chip breaker turned out to be a little later vintage, about 1910 (based on the imprinted logo), but were in good enough shape to polish and sharpen for normal use.

Stanley 26

Takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

Once the metal parts were cleaned and the iron tuned up, I reassembled the plane and trued the bottom (it had just a slight twist in it, again attesting to the quality of the piece of beech). I took a couple of shavings with it, and these pictures of it, and passed it on to my friend who was pleased to get it. He plans to use it as a shooting plane, which would be a nice fit for it given the heft of the beech body.

Now I’m looking for one for myself!