Wednesday, 6 January 2016

New Year - Fresh Start!

You're left with a new year when the holiday season comes to an end and all the festivities are over.

For me it will be a time to set in place new things to do and learn.

That said here comes my woodworking plans for the next couple of weeks (or month).

First things first - A Happy New Year and all the best for the upcoming year to all my blog readers!

To write about the plans I have in my mind, is a commitment for me. As soon as it is written down it will be compulsory.
The main project for now is the new workbench. I will come to the progress in a few seconds.
Other projects have got some dependencies on each other.
Some boxes have to be build during the next month. I need some as birthday gifts, a jewelry box is planned and I've got a commission for a vintage styled chest.
Now then, the box design with which I play around will have got mitered corners. The question is how to make nice fitting miters in a hand tool only workshop? The answer - a miter shooting board.
I started the build already. It is pretty much based on the design of Robert Wearing. I will post a dedicated report of the build in the next weeks. Watch the space.
And last but not least chair making is on my list for this year. I'm still investigating ;-)

That's my list for now:
  • The Workbench
  • A Miter Shooting Board
  • Making Mitered Boxes
  • Making a Vintage (looking) Chest
  • The Mid-Century Chair

The Shaker (inspired) Workbench

I'm making some progress (even if not in the speed I would like). Last time I've written about the fillings of the side panels. 
I've made the first tongue and groove board and went to the DIY store to buy some more lumber to do all the fillings.

First filling board

Making the boards was pretty straight forward. Cutting all boards to size, shoot the ends, making a groove on one edge and tongues on the other 3 edges.
After all boards were prepared I made a dry fit of the whole construction. But before I could finally assemble all parts I had to finish the filling boards. 

The Finish

As often I had a nice idea (as I find). It would be great if some of the parts of my new workbench will have a somehow vintage colored look.
Paul Sellers had finished his last tool chest build in that manner.
As milk paint is not easily available in Germany I decided to use chalk paint. I think it has got similar features or behavior.
That said I've ordered a can of "Atlantic Blue" chalk paint. And here is what I've done with it.
After a light sanding I've primed all parts with a water based lacquer varnish. Sounds strange but is an interesting combination and pretty easy to handle.

Black lacquer varnish

The effect is that you will have a translucent surface. Means your surface is painted in the color you want, but you can still see the grain.

All boards done, with a nice translucent finish

That stuff is dry in 3 - 4 hours and you can give it a light sanding.

Sanding the first coat

Now it's time for the first coat of chalk paint. The product I've used is ready mixed and easy to use. Another 3 - 4 hours and it's dry again.

First coat of  chalk paint

If you will sand it again you will immediately see the effect. The sandpaper will rub through the coat of blue chalk paint and the black will come through. Also you will recognize that the surface will get pretty smooth.
Done with sanding? Do another coat of chalk paint. I let this third coat dry over night.

After drying over night

The next day I've sanded the surfaces again. This time I used 320 grit sand paper. This will polish the surface. At points where you would like to see the underlying coats exert more pressure while sanding.
Now the black from the first coat comes through and you will get a fine used, vintage look.
As soon as you are ready with sanding remove all the dust. 
And now the final touch. The final coat can be a clearcoat or wax. In my case I've used wax. Put in on with a sponge, let it dry for a while and finally take off the excess with a clean rag.

Waxing the mat surface

That's the result...........

After waxing and polishing

The Assembly

After all these treatments I've assembled all parts.
Starting with the lowest board in the frame. Checked for squareness. And set up all other boards.

Checking for squareness

In order to have an equal distance between all boards I've used a card scraper as spacer.

Spacing the panels
And here is the first side panel.

The final side panel

Meanwhile the second panel is done too. However, with another design pattern.

Maybe that was a bit to much work for a bench. But I like the colored design idea pretty much.
Beside the side panels the drawer fronts and the door will be colored too. In the same manner. But this will be another story.

What's Next?

As described in one of the first posts of the Workbench series I will build a face frame for the complete case construction.

First face frame parts

The wood is dimensioned except for 1 mm or so. That will give me some room for adjustment when I finally will install the frame to the case.
Next time I will show you a bit about the face frame construction. And maybe I've got the first details of the bench top.

First impression of what I'm aiming for

Stay tuned!


  1. Happy new year Stefan
    Neat idea the colored "antique" panels. I often used the excuse of shop appliances, build etc to experiment with some design touches or elements. That way if it doesn't turned out as expected, who cares, it is still shop furniture :-)
    Your spacer may be a tad on the thin side? it is quite dry now isn't, being winter and furnace on etc. The most expansion would be in the hot humid summer days. Mind you your climate is probably different than mine


    1. Hi Bob,
      I'm quite sure that the climate is different here.
      I've got the lucky situation that the conditions in my workshop are pretty stable during the year, apart from temperature differences. The spacer is a shy 1/8" and I've made good experiences on other workshop devices (e.g. my tool chest).
      But thanks for this hint.

      Talk soon,

    2. Stefan,

      The panels look good.

      A question about a Shaker style bench. Do you plan on using hold fasts and/or dogs? If so, how are you going to get the clearance needed between the bench slab and the cabinets? I've seen several ways but I'm not sure which is the best.

      Wishing you and yours the best for the new year.


    3. Hi Ken,
      All the best for the new year to you too.
      Honestly I didn't use hold fasts pretty often. I'm still struggling with it. But nevertheless I have considered to use these.
      Therefore I've designed a clearance under the bench top of about 4". I will install the top board 4" below the top edge of the side panel. The bench top will be about 3" thick. That should give me enough room in total for using hold fasts.
      Additionally the bench top will have 4" overhang to the front and both sides. Enough room for bench dogs and clamping.
      Hope this answer makes it more clear.