A precious New Year’s gift from my wife: four child-free days at home alone, which I planned to use to get well ahead with the bench build. Much of the first day was taken up with preparation. I’d diligently practised “sharpening monogamy” but when late last year I wore my coarse waterstone away altogether, I decided to try switching to oilstones in the hope they’d not need replacement so often. I thought that I don’t do enough woodworking for the extra time sharpening to be an issue, and I think this will be true for honing tools already set up with a decent edge. However, for building the bench, I was also wanting to set up a no.8 jointer plane which I’ve never really gotten to sing as I’d like it to. I found that oilstones—at least at my present level of skill in using them—are really too slow for this. After far too much time trying to get the edge in shape, I switched to sandpaper on a piece of glass for establishing the initial bevel. With that as a base, I’m really happy with the oilstones, and the way the jointer works on the long edges and faces of the bench parts. Having spend so much time learning how best to use the oilstones I didn’t get as much planing done as I’d have liked, but I did find time also to glue up some of the leg pieces and to scout the two main rival local DIY centres for some of the other wood needed for the build.