Simple Woodworking Bench

You’ve waited patiently – here are the instructions and illustrations for the Simple Woodworking Bench. ChiefsShopSimpleBench

It’s a seven-page pdf file. If you have any trouble with the file, let me know.

I’d like to get know what you think about the instructions and video for the project, so please take a minute to visit and complete a survey about it.

Remember to watch the video!

Post any questions here on my blog, or shoot me an e-mail –

The next project will be a chair. I’ll leave it up to you to choose which version you’d like:

Just note that Option B will be more difficult than Option A. Post your vote in the comments section for this page.

Thanks, and enjoy!

Published in: Uncategorized on June 30, 2010 at 12:44 pm  Comments (2)  


Extreme temperatures and humidity levels can be particularly brutal if you’re working outdoors or in an unconditioned workshop. But it’s not just yourself you need to worry about.

Wood, particularly soft woods, are susceptible to extremes of humidity and heat. Lignin, which is more or less the “glue” within the fibers of wood that keep its shape, can weaken in extreme heat and direct sun and cause boards to “move” and warp and even split.

A couple of tips – don’t store lumber in direct sunlight, and keep it in your shop for a couple of days before you start working on it to let it adjust to the conditions in your shop.

Even just a few minutes in near 100-degree heat (which I experienced recently on a video shoot) and direct sunlight can warp a board. Heat and moisture are two ingredients used in forming wood to shape (i.e., steam bending), and once the lignin has been broken down and the wood shaped, you can’t “re-bend” it back to shape.

Published in: Uncategorized on June 28, 2010 at 9:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Simple Woodworking Bench Video

The Chief’s Shop Simple Woodworking Bench video. The instructions are here – Chief’s Shop Simple Bench.

Here is the list of lumber you’ll need:

Four 1 x 4 x 6 poplar boards

One 1 x 4 x 2 poplar board

Two 2 x 2 x 3 poplar boards

One 1/4 x 3 x 2 poplar board

Post your vote as a comment on this page, or e-mail me at

Published in: on June 15, 2010 at 7:48 pm  Comments (5)  

Build vs. Buy

Quality isn’t cheap.

Yes, you can buy facsimiles that are cheaper than what it would cost you to build. You can also buy versions of those things that are several times more expensive than what it would cost you to build.

Any dope can go and buy a $20 plastic veneer pressboard bookcase at an ultra-cheap discount store. I’ve been that dope. And in two years the thing was trashed – falling apart, plastic coating chipping, the CARDBOARD backing coming apart, etc. I wasn’t extraordinarily rough with it either, just average, ordinary bookcase use.

My father has a bookcase he built more than 30 years ago that looks just as good as the day he completed it. And it ain’t falling apart folks, even after having been moved into three different houses and with children, and now grandchildren, grabbing books here and there. It cost him more to build than some flimsy thing he could have bought at the time, but far less than a fine furniture store would have charged for the same thing. Plus, he built it to his own specs to meet the needs he had at the time.

Some woodworkers start the craft because they do get the idea that they can build that chair, or table, or bookcase much cheaper than what it costs in this, that, or the other catalogue or furniture showroom. But I guarantee that 100% of them do it more for the love of the activity and the pride that comes with building something with their own hands – that they can stand back and tell anyone, “Yes, I built that.”

There’s a lot of love for quality, non-disposable furniture. Why else would family furniture that’s passed down for generations be so cherished? In my home I have furniture that was built by multiple generations of family members. I can build any piece of furniture that we could possible want, but we hold on to these family items because they were built to last and were built with strong, knowledgeable hands.

Heirloom furniture is an ultimate recycling program. It lives on and on and on. Cheap, plastic crap occupies space in a landfill in at best a couple of years from the time of purchase. Sure, it may be cheaper today, but how much have you saved if you have to buy new every couple of years?

Published in: Uncategorized on June 10, 2010 at 4:11 pm  Comments (4)  

Pocket Hole Joinery

Get ready for the Simple Woodworking Bench project.

The bench project is assembled using nothing but pocket hole screws, which are all hidden underneath and inside. You won’t be able to see any of the screw holes once the project is assembled.

What is pocket hole joinery? Big pilot holes drilled at an angle through which self-tapping screws (they bore through wood on their own) drive into an adjoinery piece of wood. The pocket hole is essentially a guide guide hole for the screw. It’s pretty much the same technique as toe-nailing (nails hammered at an angle), which is how most stud framing is done – yep, the walls of your home.

This bench is built using 1x stock, which measures 3/4″ thick. For that, you’ll need 1 1/4″ screws. And, since the lumber is a hardwood (poplar), you’ll need fine thread 1 1/4″ screws.

Don’t have a pocket hole jig? Run down to Lowe’s to get one – they’re the largest retailer carrying it. There are a couple of versions available – the mini jig is about $20 (item #205297), a mid-level jig is about $40 (item # 255535), the next leve jig is about $100 (item #142733), and the top jig (which is a combination kit) is about $140 (item #168410).  I also recommend you pick up a right angle clamp –  #194999 – it’s about $28, but well worth it because it’s essentially a third hand. Go to and type in those item numbers in the search box and you’ll see them.

This video, which is pulled from the full video on building the bench, shows you the basics of pocket hole joinery.  Note: The jig you see here is an older version, but it works on exactly the same principle.

Published in: on June 6, 2010 at 6:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Slow-Drain Fixes

I recently had to take care of two slow-draining sinks and a toilet.

Instead of  breaking out any tools, I did a combination of two steps that required three things that are readily available in most homes – vinegar, baking soda, and boiling water. Note: The sinks and toilet weren’t completely clogged, just very slow to drain. These steps kept me from having completely clogged sinks and toilet, which would then possibly required the use of a wrench, plunger, etc., or a call to a plumber (my last resort).


The first step is to pour boiling water down the drain after removing the stopper. Be sure do to this only if you have metal pipes – PVC pipes can melt. If you do have PVC pipes, skip over to the next step.

Luckily, I did have one tool – an electric tea kettle. But you could boil the water on your stove top and then take it to the sink. The heat will either completely removed what’s partially blocking the pipes, or at least loosen up what’s there. Pour the water directly into the drain pipe at the bottom of the sink bowl, not the bowl itself.

Next, I poured a healthy portion of baking soda down the drains (don’t use the whole box, please), followed by vinegar. Stand back a bit (don’t put your face right down at the drain) – there will be some gas created by the chemical reaction.

Run the tap and see how the sink drains. If it’s still slow, repeat the steps above a couple more times. If that doesn’t work, try a plunger, then open up the pipe underneath or call a plumber.


OK – so I did start with a plunger on this bad boy, but it didn’t help with the slow drain. I allowed the flush to fully drain (it was slow, so it took awhile). When the water reached the lowest point in the bowl, I poured boiling water (a full kettle full) directly into the bowl and right at the water. I flushed, allowed it to drain (it went a little faster), then flushed again…presto! I had a normally functioning toilet again!

The point of all this? Try the easy fixes first, then break out the tools or the phone book.

Published in: on June 4, 2010 at 2:45 pm  Comments (1)  

Coming Up In Chief’s Shop

In about two weeks I’ll be launching the first project in the Simple Woodworking series of videos. The project is this bench. 

But before that, and starting this weekend, I’ll post a series of blogs that cover some of the basic techniques used in creating the bench, along with a few photos and video snippets here and there. Think of it as a progressive buildup to the project.

I’ll also post the illustrations and instructions, which will include the list of materials and tools you will need to complete the project. 

And, I’ll be available for answering questions through this blog, and on my Woodworker facebook group. 

I plan to continue the Simple Woodworking series with chair and table projects. All will use similar materials and techniques – keeping the projects as quick and easy as possible. 

If you’d like to see specific projects in the future, shoot me an e-mail with your ideas and I’ll work them into the series. 

Make some sawdust! 


Published in: Uncategorized on June 3, 2010 at 7:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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