Laminating a Workbench Top – Suggestions?

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  • #131930
    Matt McGrane
    Participant

    I’m about to start building my new workbench and will be laminating about 18 pieces of 2×4 to make the 58″ long x ~26″ wide top (no well-board, just a flat top). My original plan was to laminate together 6 pieces of 2×4 to get a (approx.) 9″ wide section of top. Then do that two more times to get three sections and finally glue the three sections together. I also thought it might be easier to flatten each section individually than to try to flatten the whole thing together.

    My worry is this. Once the three sections are glued and cured, they will be completely inflexible, so that when I attempt to join the three sections into one large bench top, the joint lines between sections will have to be perfect to get them to mate properly and get a good glue bond.

    One alternative is to try to glue the entire top together at one time. But I’m thinking that gluing the entire top together in one go will be near impossible.

    Does anybody have any ideas on how to make this easier.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

    #131932
    trooper82
    Participant

    Matt,

    I made my bench before learning of Paul and his teachings. So I had a plan in my head that required Ash for construction. I glued no more than 2 or 3 at once. Then 1 between those first sets in one glue up. I have 15 2×4 (Ash) for my top so took a few days to complete. I wish I had been more patient and glued them one or two at a time on the same set. Meaning add the new pieces to the last set . This way you can assure the boards will give. Too many glued at once is asking for trouble. I did plane the faces before glue up, trying to get them flat, but they were not perrrfect for sure 🙂

    #131935
    Derek Long
    Participant

    Matt,

    I bit the bullet this summer and started building a new bench, too. I laminated 12 2x4s at once. Don’t do it. Do it in sections, especially with 18. The glue was setting before I got to the other end, and no amount of clamping force could completely close up some of the small surface gaps in the first few 2x4s.

    I’d also suggest surfacing a few 2×4’s on the same day you intend to glue them up to avoid movement over night.

    I’d glue up a few sections then flatten together. It’s not too hard to scrub them down then flatten. It took me about three passes with the scrub plane to get it rough-flat. Not bad, especially when you might have to reflatten the whole thing over again if your sections are too far off.

    Derek Long
    Denver, Colorado

    #131959
    Matt McGrane
    Participant

    Thanks guys. I still need to think this through a bit. But construction will start this week, so I better get my thinking cap on.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

    #131961
    Joe Kaiser
    Participant

    does it need to be a solid 26″ wide? You could do two glue-ups. each one 9 boards wide. Then include a small board between the two that is removable. your glue-ups will be easier. the movement will be less noticeable across 18″ than 26, and plus you can always pull that board out, flip it around, and use it as a planing stop or batton when needed.

    Seattle, WA

    #131963
    Joe Kaiser
    Participant

    Here is a video showing what I am talking about. Skip to 7:40 in

    Seattle, WA

    #131973
    Matt McGrane
    Participant

    @jotato – I like that, Joe. I’ve seen things like that. I may not ever have a use for the center board, but it sure solves the problem. As long as I could get 9 pieces glued up at one time … And as long as my bearers are flat, the two top sections should stay in plane with one another.

    Can’t believe the shavings literally flying out of that wooden plane that Mike Siemsen uses!!

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

    #131978
    Derek Long
    Participant

    Matt, if you like that idea take a look at Bill’s split-top roubo at Billy’s Little Bench where he demonstrates his, starting at 2:37. A divider board can be very useful. Don’t have to make a split-top Roubo, just some ideas for a divider.

    http://www.billyslittlebench.com/blog/my-workbench-the-finale

    Derek Long
    Denver, Colorado

    #131991
    Marilyn Moreno
    Participant

    Hi Matt,
    I completed my bench close to a year ago. I glued the top 4 boards at a time. In hind sight I wish I had done 3 at a time to give me more time. The main part of the bench is 9 boards including the apron. I have a well and the back is just 2 boards thick.
    I don’t have the upper body strength to handle that many boards at once. And like many of us, I was afraid the glue would set before I had the boards aligned and flush.
    The 2 sections joined up well with no gaps. I guess it helps if the boards are fairly straight.
    I had to do a lot of planing to get it flat. That was mostly the round edges on all the boards. I am truly happy with my bench.

    Enjoy the build! Great experience…
    Marilyn

    Marilyn - Lehigh Valley, Eastern Pennsylvania - USA

    #131999
    David Perrott
    Participant

    I really like the Nicholson bench the Mike Siemsen makes in the Naked Woodworker video. It looks pretty easy to make. I was planning to make one. I started to change my mind and will try to make a Scandanavian/Klaus/Frid bench. I want one of those front L shaped vises. The bars of the vise just get in the way. I don’t want to deal with that anymore. The tail vise I’m unsure of. I may try to go with the big traditional one or maybe just use my record style vise instead.

    #132025
    Matt McGrane
    Participant

    @dperrott – David, I read about the Klausz bench in “The Workbench Book”. I love that style of front vise for the same reason you mentioned. But that arm needs to be extremely strong to handle the leverage of the vise action. I’m not quite ready for making something like that. Good luck to you, though – I’d love to hear how it comes out if you do make one like that.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

    #132028
    David Perrott
    Participant

    @mattmcgrane I was really thinking of doing Siemsens Nicholson bench. I started working more by using the bench top rather than putting everything in the vise like P.S. Partially because I have a smaller vise. I also want the vise flush I do like to dovetail so the Scandinavian bench is great for that. I think I will follow Tage Frid’s plans for the bench. The sliding tail vise will be the tricky one.

    #132567
    Keith Wyles
    Participant

    When I made mine I glued up 7 with no problems. Used a lot of glue and made my own threaded rod clamps.

    #132575
    Matt McGrane
    Participant

    I ended up gluing two sections, each containing 9 2x4s. I worked quickly and with as good organization as I could manage in my tiny shop. Each section came out OK. But I had to do some serious planing to remove a LOT of twist in the boards before attempting to glue them together. They would even come together in a dry run without that planing!! As a result, one section is about 12 1/2″ wide and the other is about 11 1/4″ wide.

    I’m planning to get them to the same thickness and when installed on the bench, I’ll separate them with a spacer, like @jotato mentioned above.

    Currently working on all the laminations for the legs, stretchers and rails. Lots of planing, sawing and gluing. I’ve already used about two quart-sized bottles of glue. Hopefully next week I can start on some joinery.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

    #132589
    Gary
    Participant

    If building a bench and not having enough clamps (As if anyone ever has enough!), would this not be the ideal project to use nail/pinch dogs such as Paul showed how to make? I recently made a set of 8 on his pattern (though I must admit….. I did use a Dremel tool with a cutting wheel instead of a hacksaw for the cross cuts).

    DSC_0013-2

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