In the last 10 hours 8,900 woodworkers have watched part 8 of making my workbench on YouTube alone. That of course does not include how many have watched the other 7 parts in the series. On woodworkingmasterclasses.com the series has been going out two weeks earlier. I am not sure how many have seen it there too but it has been highly successful. The thing about the workbench is that it is not only doable, it’s also totally practical. Add to that the low cost, and the fact that I have worked from one for decades in my day to day day in day out woodworking without ever a glitch and you understand why I recommend it. My first thoughts in showing others how to make it was to make it without a break, starting at 7am and going all the way through without a break except to eat, drink and use the bathroom until it was done. I also planned doing it on a seashore in the sand. Maybe I still will one day. But the reason I chose the series was I didn’t want anyone to be excluded. I wanted it to be totally inclusive. So I whittled down the costs on every front—secondhand wood, hand tools only, softwood etc. It really only took me three short days to make.
There were no real challenges as I have made so many through the years that even most measurements stayed in my head. All the processes to were right there in my head. You may recall that I made two early on in 2016. In my garage I already had two workbenches but I never used them on making either of the two new ones. Even when I made the one in the video it was all hand work and there I had 12 workbenches I could have worked from. In both places I also had access to a full set of machines I could have used but I never used one. You see in all cases in all places it had be truthful and honest. But here’s another truth, never once on any one of the builds did I want to or consider using a machine. I wanted the work, the exercise, the experience, the exercise and the demands of self discipline. The end result, after each bench build? Harmony, peace, wellbeing, a clear and whole mind. I was a happy and contented man. I could be at peace, total peace.
Some times, and I do understand, it is hard to wrap your mind around the importance hand working. Some said why didn’t I use this or that machine, this or that technique, this or that fancy hand tool or saw? At the end of my working day I have often done 15,000 paces. My Fitbit tells me that and keeps track, but walking and running is not enough for me. The exercise of work demands constant thought and then application of my body to the tasks. The stresses and strains have real value so bending, pushing, pulling, lifting, lowering are all energised by my mind and body. No exercise alone gives me this. But then too there is the self discipline I must exercise minute by minute continuously. There is no break, no neglect of duty.
As I made the workbench for the videos other people in the overall workspace had their work to carry on with. After several failed attempts to get on with the filming we realised that we were going to have to start before the other users of the space came in—early starts! So we came in two hours earlier than normal and each day we filmed the important stuff and then followed up with the time lapses. It worked.
As the series nears its end as far as us putting the last episode out there for all to watch, I feel the same fulfilment I felt in designing and building the various versions I have over the years. It is wonderful to see so many people building workbenches, buying up old Stanley and Record planes and following in my steps. I feel both proud and humbled.