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Update on Hannah’s Progress

Hannah has been working with me since December for a day or two a week and then working in the classes we have too. She has just finished the construction of her home workbench, which she started two weeks ago. This one follows my latest pattern and dismantles for her to transport it as she plans on doing more practice work at home too, to progress her training and making.

She has made a range of projects so far but this is definitely the largest project she’s worked on and her joinery and woodworking is exemplary after so short a time. Hopefully you will all be encouraged because it’s not that many days before she arrived at this.

Watching her develop her woodworking skills has been very inspiring for me and her work is exemplary even though she is indeed her own greatest critic.

Two key things remain: her next stage is to install the vise. We found an old model Woden in my gatherings of scrap junk, just like the one I have used on my workbench for the past 8 years. Hers is in better shape than mine even though mine works very smoothly, so after she’s restored it to remove surface rust and get it fully operational she will own a very nice vise. Being left handed she plans on the bench being left-handed too. After that she will make her apron drawer, which will conclude a large amount of her basic training in drawer construction. Next to door making and carcass construction for under-bench stowage.

Here is a short one-minute video for you to see how quickly and easily she flips a workbench over to prepare for vise fitting, which happens this coming week.

26 comments

  1. Mic says:

    Thank you Paul for your inspiring posts.

    I have spent the last two months finding and purchasing everything I need to start my first ever project following the advice in your book and here on your blog – your workbench will be my introduction to woodworking. I have been spending time researching and get the hint you will be releasing a new series on building a workbench. Is this correct and if so, may I ask when it will be released?

    Thank you, enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  2. JulioT. says:

    You were right: I like this post. I envy this girl. I would like to have the opportunity to learn with you but, at least at the present moment, I see it very difficult. I expect that you keep on teaching in ten years from now (I expect to be retired for then) and go to England to learn real woodworking.

    I have almost finished a workbench. Basically is your workbench with some added things. I’ve put a leg vise in the left front part, and a medium size record-style steel vise on the corner, for metal working. You are going to kill me πŸ™‚ , but I’ve used a frame of solid dry birch that I had (actually a 36 inches tall table for meat cutting up that has a tabletop of two inches thick and 2 3/8 inches square legs that was forgotten at home). The assembly of frame and top weights 200 lb and is very sturdy, and I thought that it was a pity not trying to give it a second life. I’t thinking about doing a new one in the future, with your complete design, and leave the other one for sharpening station. I expect to be so good as Hannah is.

    Pretty girl, by the way (please don’t say my wife I’ve told this).

  3. Sylvain says:

    Dear Paul,
    I have just completed a workbench based on your model.
    After having made it in my backyard when the weather was fine, I used the knock down possibility to bring it to the second floor in the attic where it was assembled again.
    My vise arrived a little later.
    I then removed the front wedges, unscrewed the top and front apron. This allowed me flip the front L beam (top + apron) on the frame legs, then pivoting it on one leg frame and sliding it to the other frame in such a way that the slab was resting on the two leg frames but with the apron in front and turned toward the ceiling. (imagine pivoting a long canoe alone).
    It was then easy to fasten the 16 kg vise.
    Then doing the movement in reverse to replace the L beam in its normal position, putting the wedges again, tightening the carriage bolts and the screw through the bearer in the slab.
    In this way there was no need to move the entire bench.
    Sylvain

  4. Sylvain says:

    I have to add to my comment here above:
    – my congratulations to Hannah, her workbench, contrary to mine, is shiny and crispy.
    – your two phases method to flip the bench is interesting as it requires less effort then to turn it directly along the length axis. (good for the back)
    For a bench with the vise on the left side, the bench would be better pivoted around the left end to keep the center of gravity low.
    Sylvain

  5. Donald Kreher says:

    Paul, I am curious at what average age do you consider taking a student for serious woodworking. I found that when I taught fly tying classes that because students often sit facing you trying to copy your motions they would have trouble doing the required mirror image until they were at least 10 years of age. Of course everyone develops skills differently and some adults would also have similar trouble. Parents would often insist their child was ready at younger ages and would sit with them, but it was usually a disaster. Just a curiosity of mine.

    I see that Hanna is 18 to 20 and I congratulate her on pursuing the craft. She will find it very rewarding.

    My very best wishes to you both.

    • Paul Sellers says:

      Age in boys is a curious thing–specific even to boys only I believe. Boys generally seem to have an ingredient in their development-being missing somewhere around the age of between 12-14. Whatever it is is just not there, not developed or par developed and unusable, but sometimes a 12 year-old will have it when a 13 year-old does not have it. I have not found this in girls so far. Whereas I started my own boys woodworking at 3, I still waited for their individual synapses to fully kick in and that came in the age range suggested. When it happens you see it and you feel it and they do too. If you push beforehand too hard or harshly it leads to frustration, hence the propensity of fathers to provoke their sons to be frustrated because of their own frustration. Craft work demands patience which is why so many people avoid woodworking because they are impatient and it was never engendered in them by their fathers.

      • Donald Kreher says:

        I belive the crux is indeed patience. It seems with the advent of handheld electronics that are misused to provide passive entertainment that patience and attention to detail wane.

        • Matt Bland says:

          Hi Donald….I think you are SO right! Kids don’t seem to make things anymore! They just seem to want the money to go and buy things rather than thinking about how they might actually make something and gain great enjoyment and fulfilment from doing so!

          I have just sent my youngest daughter a link to this page as although she aspires to be an architect, as am I, I think she has enough curiosity to engage with how things are made with wood!

          • Paul Sellers says:

            Most woodworkers like myself are indeed architects too, in that we design and engineer our projects on a smaller scale, but then skills are transferable. Some of the best woodworkers I’ve worked with as a teacher/trainer have turned out to be architects.

  6. Kerie says:

    Hi Paul, I’m glad to see Hannah progressing so well under your tutelage and I’m even more glad to learn she is a lefty! As a lefty myself I’ve often found it difficult to use right-hand designs and always adapt for my own purposes so I’ll be interested to see the end result. Mind you, being left-handed has been very helpful with my job of teaching kids to swim as they will mirror my demonstration and I don’t have to change my natural actions. I’m also so pleased that you are mentoring a young woman in a male dominated field. I wish her well in the journey that’s just beginning πŸ™‚

    • Paul Sellers says:

      She’s as good for me as I am for her I think. I’ve struggled for years to encourage more women to take up woodworking, even provided hands-on courses for free to even out the unlevel playing field so that they could get started, but often had no takers so I stopped offering them because it’s easy to go into the other ditch. Our take-up is about a one-in-twenty ratio but I think it is not so much don’t want to but more often can’t because of many ‘other‘ pressures not the least of which is who takes care of the kids for two to nine days.

  7. Hugo says:

    Bravo !! Such a future inspiration for my daughter . Do not stop: I am to old now to go back on that extremely sublime path of he Wood. I will admire yours.

    Bravo

    • Matt Bland says:

      Matt, I absolutely agree and have always thought that there is no good reason whatsoever that women or girls should not be encouraged to learn to work with their hands. There are many fine examples of great female woodworkers and carvers…Megan Fitzpatrick comes to mind most readily of course!

      Keep at it Hannah, it looks like you’re doing great and please be mindful that you are extremely lucky to have Paul as your mentor. Gifted craftsmen from the ‘Old School’ that are willing to share their experience, talent and techniques are very thin on the ground!

  8. Graham Hall says:

    Now that’s a great workbench more like my size, one that I can move on me own, not that giant one you made Paul that takes a team of six grown men to shift, let alone to house.
    Well done Hannah.

  9. Igor says:

    Thouhg I am right handed I find it more convenient placement of the wise in the right side of the workbench, because then they can be clamped the workpiece to the crosscut.
    I have not found how to do it in the left location. Could you tell me how to do it well?
    I’m sorry my English is a bit poor.

  10. Andy says:

    Thank you for the video on manoeuvring the bench, this was very timely as i finally finished my bench this weekend. After fitting the vice with the bench lying on the floor, i could not lift it back up; then remembering this video, i cleared some space and managed to lift and swivel it longitudinally. It certainly saved my back!

    Andy

  11. Marco says:

    First of all, congratulations to you and Hanna. This is exactly the workbench model I`d like to build. Is there some other article with specific details on its construction? I’ve seen already the entire series of your original workbench.
    Thanks a lot.

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