There was (and still is) a book called The Inner Game of Tennis, and while I never read it, I remember one of the claims the book made. The claim was that the more one thought about playing tennis (and playing it well), the better one played tennis in real life. The parallels have been drawn in many other sports and indeed, in many other facets of life. So why not woodworking? I am convinced that my workbench will be far better, and the construction far smoother, because of my ruminations. With that, here are my latest thoughts, with questions in bold face:

  1. I think I need to build a bowsaw or frame saw before starting my bench. I think that will be a much better way of cutting the legs (and later, the benchtop) to size. My ryoba is great, but is so thin it could easily wander while cutting a 6″ square leg, or a 2′-wide benchtop.
  2. I’m not sure in what order people build benches, but I get the idea that it’s better to build the base and then the top. For me, I’ll have to do a little of each. The center of my bench will be made up of the the thickest stock I can find (probably only 3″ or 4″ laminated to about 12″ total). I’ll have to see what that total thickness is before figuring out how long my short stretchers will be. So here’s what I’ll do: First I’ll build the legs, then I’ll laminate the thick stock for the middle, then I’ll build the stretchers, and lastly I’ll laminate the three outer boards (8/4) on each side of the top (with mortises for the leg tenons).
  3. Where should I position the legs on a 6′ bench? Should I allow 6 inches of free space on each end? Or 1 foot? Or other?
  4. Do I need to add anything to my F-style clamps? They only have smallish pads unlike parallel clamps. Will they be sufficient for laminating my 8/4 stock for the top, or for the 12/4 stock for the legs? Or do I need to use cross pieces to better distribute the clamping pressure?

I hope to buy all the lumber this week!