4 – Time For A New Workbench | Nicholson Workbench Part 1

I mentioned back in my New Year’s post that I intended to build a new workbench this year. What I had was not impossible, but not ideal either. I was always able to cobble together a solution to get a workpiece held in place, but it would cost more time in setup. Once it was in place, any sort of hand tool work would cause the bench to wobble and at times slide on  the floor.

When deciding on what type of bench I would build, I had a few things in mind:

  • The workbench should follow the basic rule of being a three dimensional clamping surface. Legs should be flush with the aprons (as outlined in Christopher Schwarz’s Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use).
  • Economical. A workbench build can cost very little, or a relatively large amount of money. On the more expensive bench builds, one can easily spend $1400 or more between materials and vise hardware, which is perfectly fine for folks where that fits their budget. I firmly believe though that there is a bench that is suitable for just about any budget.
  • Flexible. By this, I mean a style that if you don’t follow specific plans to the letter, but take the overall idea and make it your own, you can come up with a bench that will suit your needs.
  • Heavy enough to not slide or move when doing hand tool work.

So what I chose was a Nicholson style bench, also known as an English joiner’s bench. Like the Roubo, it is a “clean slate” type of bench that allows for many different configurations of vise hardware and placements.  One of the characteristics of the Nicholson is that it can be made of construction grade lumber, which gives it a bit of an edge in the “Economical” department. For my bench, I went with douglas fir. Doug fir is more easily found than Southern Yellow Pine in construction grade lumber in my area. It’s tougher than the typical spruce construction grade stuff at the big box stores in the Northeast, but still softer than most furniture grade woods. I’d rather my bench get a ding, than my workpiece. While I built this bench, I took some video, and a bunch of pictures that I summarized in the “part 1” video above… So enough reading and now time for more viewing… check out the video! Thanks for watching!

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4 thoughts on “4 – Time For A New Workbench | Nicholson Workbench Part 1”

  1. Nice work Jim! Good job on the video….oh, and the bench came out nice too 🙂 I like that design. I had been considering a Ruobo because of all the hoopla around it, but now I think I need to more seriously compare bench designs and find one that works for me.

    1. Thanks John! Yeah, both the Roubo and Nicholson are great bench types to customize to your needs. For folks like like a true tool tray, I think the 21st Century workbench is also a good option.

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