Finally, I am joining the workbench-guild. Today, I bought all the wood. No hardware yet, because I have to re-design the bench according to what I found in the shops.
By the way, I called this a blog, because I will write in blog form, but please feel free to comment, ask, criticise. Let’s say, this will be an interactive blog.
I am starting with (imperial sizes in brackets):
10 pieces of 2000 x 80 x 60 mm (78-3/4″ x 3-1/8″ x 2-3/8″) for the top, spruce, rough sawn
2 pieces of 4000 x 280 x 40 mm (157-1/2″ x 11-1/32″ x 1-1/2″) for the aprons, the well-board and four rails (if I can rip it to half width), spruce, rough sawn
8 pieces of 1000 x 120 x 60 mm (39-3/8″ x 4-3/4″ x 2-3/8″) for the legs, pine, planed. with bevelled edges, so I have to plane down the glueing-faces
All remaining parts – two rails, if ripping the wide board is possible, otherwise six, and the wedges and the levers to secure the wedges – will be made from pallet wood, spruce, fir or pine.
So far, I have cut the boards for the aprons and well-board in two, so they will fit into my workshop. Thumbs up for hand-tools, sawing took less than two minutes, it took much longer to improvise a good support for sawing.
I will also cut all other stock to rough length, once I have determined the final dimensions. The legs will definitely be cut a few centimetres too long, because I need to experiment with the bench height.
Tonight, I will make a new sketch according to the wood I got. The design is an exact copy of the bench that Paul Sellers built in his video. I will even reserve a space for a tail vise, even though I don’t have one, and I am not sure, if I really need one. Tomorrow, I could buy the hardware, i.e. screws etc.
And that is all I can do until next weekend or even later. The last week was quite dry, but last night, we got a lot of snow, at temperatures above freezing point. I am not sure, how fast wood takes the moisture, but I will let it rest for a while in my workshop.
In the meantime, I will build two strong sawing-horses, which will be useful when I start laminating the bench top etc. I have a bench, but it is a bit small for this purpose. They will be made from construction wood too, but I will risk bending here. In the worst case, I will have to re-level the legs. And I think, strength is more important here, than squareness.
Oh, I almost forgot: I also bought a stand for large waste-bags, so I can keep the shavings under control.
- This topic was modified 6 years, 7 months ago by Hugo Notti.
My main wish is that I had made mine bigger (deeper). 5′ long was all I could fit but I easily could have added a few more boards to get some more heft out of it (there is plenty of workable space though). I also wish I had used another board on my aprons to give the frame a bit more rigidity.
That said, I love my bench. I made it and it works just great! I have considered even building a second one…Good luck with yours. Looking forward to following your progress!
Well, I am busy with the side project, saw horses. And I found out, that my cheap handsaw is too aggressive on the weak fibres and too weak on the annual rings of the pine, I am getting tearout even with deep knife walls. Not a real problem though, nothing gets sawn to the precise length, I only need to worry about the housing dadoes, which need to be very precise. I recently bought a Japanese saw with two sides, cross- and rip-cut, and finer teeth and less set. It will serve as a tenon saw.
Right now I took a break to study the exact layout of the joinery for the legs. The stability of the horses depends on these joints, so I think twice, measure twice, double and triple check the layout on the wood, even quadruple check, before reaching for the saw. This is quite unlike me, I like to chop away and think later, but it worked before.
Apart from that, saw horses is quite a fast project, so I hope to be done by tomorrow.
The joints on the sawhorse legs are a real brain teaser, when you do it with different angles.
I want the legs to end exactly under the end of the top rail, that is the first angle. Easily measured with the top rail, a leg and one side and end of my small workbench. The second angle is the angle at which the pairs of legs on each side are spread (upside down V-shape). I want it very stable in this direction, so I used a 1:3 ratio, transferred to my bevel gauge. I leave it to your imatination to resolve this. I did, but I made a mistake on the cutting line on the endgrain. I wasn’t sure, if it should be parallel to the outsides or not. Well, it should, if the upper end of the leg is parallel to the top rail. For whatever reason, the results were fine on three legs, only the last one needed some chiseling. Now I have to figure out a way to clamp everything together, so I can drill the holes for the screws, meaning, that I have to have access to where the holes need to be.
Who would have thought, that putting together five pieces of wood could be such a challenge 😀
PS: I don’t like the two-sided Japanese saw. The cuts are very clean, but rip-cutting is very slow and the handling is weird. However, it is an improvement over the other saw.
- This reply was modified 6 years, 7 months ago by Hugo Notti.
Ok, I got the length of the bolts wrong, have to get longer ones tomorrow. I have a threaded bar with the same diameter, so I now tested, what I really need.
I had to rework two recesses and cutouts on the legs, because I got them quite wrong. And I don’t have a router, which made it harder to get the surfaces level. The legs are spread a bit less than I wanted, 30 cm instead of 32, but that is just 3/4″, I am not worried. Perhaps I can correct it a bit when I add the front and back panels. One reason for the incorrect angles is a tough knot in the top rail, exactly where one of the recesses had to go. When pairing away the knot, I had a few accidents with tearout, so marking the leg was difficult. However, the other faulty leg was marked against a pristine shoulder line, no excuses here, I did a bad job. When making the second horse, if there is a knot again, I will put it to the upper side. Any tearout there will be very visible, but I’ll have a clean line for marking the leg.
The drilling of the holes was easier than I expected, after I found a good method:
First I clamped the top rail onto the bench top, inserted one leg and supported the other end of the leg with some pieces of wood. This was stable enough to drill. First a recess with a forstner bit, then the hole for the bolt, through the leg and a bit into the top rail. This requires vertical drilling only, so no rocket science or complicated aiming methods.
Then I removed the leg and drilled completely through the top rail (finished from the other side when the point of the drill bit came through). Again, just vertical drilling.
The third step was to mark the second leg on the inside, with the drill bit sticking through the top rail, then drill until the point showed up on the other side. This was not vertical drilling, but exactly perpendicular to the visible surface. In order to drill the other side, especially the recess, I attached the leg to the top rail again, so it was vertical drilling again.
All the time, I wondered, how Paul Sellers did it in his blog series. Well, he used two screws for each leg, so no drilling through at all. Well, I still like my method, and if I use hide glue, I can even take the horses apart, if I like to. I might, because I think, hide glue is the better gap filler, and it is quite strong too.
Because of the hide glue, even further away from the workbench: Yesterday I have wrapped a bench plane in a wet towel and cling film, because the sole was coming off partially, and I wanted to glue it on properly. Tonight, I opened the parcel, and the sole had glued itself back. How cool is that!
Well, another possible explanation: The body of the plane has absorbed a lot of moisture, while the sole, which is very dark and dense wood, didn’t absorb much. This closed the gap, which is still not glued. I will know more tomorrow.
Today, I cut the aprons, well board and bench top parts to rough size, i.e. 185 cm, wich is 5 cm (2″) longer than I am aiming for. I am not too excited, but I know, what I was buying. Some cracks, dents and knots in unsuitable places. However not much additional bending or cupping. I might have to buy two or three new beams for the bench top, wich is not much money, they cost less than 3 Euro a piece.
I also had a closer look at the bench top logs. It seems, that, except for one, they are so straight, that I only need to clean the surfaces and get a seamless lamination. There will be some rough edges on the underside, but it looks like I can get a perfect bench top.
Each apron and the well board have a good side, where I can cut the recesses. Of course, I also want the other side clean and straight, but that is less important.
I haven’t touched the saw horses today, because I had no opportunity to get the longer bolts. I want to finish one as a prototype, take a few critical looks and then make the second one better.
A bit silly, but I had to do it. I wanted to get an idea of how the final bench would look like and I wanted to have all the wood on one picture. The well board will be a bit lower. I put one leg in front of the bench to see, if the width looks right. The boards underneath were needed because the sawhorses are too short.
Quick notice about the bench plane: The sole is completely off, except for the area, where I had glued it with, when I bought it. So I wedged the sole off where it is lose and wrapped it in a wet towel again. I do know, that PVA dissolves in water, it is only a matter of patience…
I will have to plane the body flat, it has a belly near the blade opening. I can make the workbench without this plane, but it would be very helpful to have it. I also have to fix the blade of my smoothing plane, which is a lot of grinding. I tried an electric grinder, but I don’t have the experience to get it right, so I am back to a coarse stone now. The edge is slightly rounded now, which is much better than before, when it had an S-shape, but still a lot of work, see attachment. I think, there are two reasons for this: My stones aren’t flat enough and I didn’t look at the progress when sharpening. Up to now, I mostly felt for the bur and moved to the next grit when it seemed good enough. This creates a sharp edge, but the edge follows the shape of the stone…
I have got other things to do today, so I might not do anything else for the workbench. Perhaps this is even good, because I have sawn the parts to length yesterday and another day might reveal new cracks or older cracks getting longer.
Hi Scott! Remember, that the glueing surfaces only need to be flat enough to touch each other completely, when you pull them together with the strength of your arms. In my case, it even took out the twist of one log.
Now that you mention it: My family onws a piece of land where my father had planted 1000 fir trees 50 years ago. We never planted them apart, so a lot of them have to go, they grew slowly and have few branches only. I could chop down a few thinner ones and make a second bench. It will be a hell lot of work, but in the end, I could sell one bench and keep the better one… The only downside: I will need a paring axe and they are hard to find in Germany.
At present, I am struggling with the iron of my smoothing plane. The edge is still slightly round and the only flat stone I have is quite fine. So I will go to a DIY shop, get some sandpaper for the rough job and a new coarser stone for regular use. Flattening the old stones is probably more expensive. And I seriously consider buying an expensive (128 Euro) #4 plane, so I can get back to work. Tomorrow is my birthday, so I think, I have the right to spend that money 😉 Anyway, lesson learned, and I have a magnifying glass at my sharpening station now!
I got a new plane, 90 Euro is okay for how it came out of the box. For simplicity, I only initialised the blade and put it into the old plane, cap iron etc. fit perfectly. I needed a second smoothing plane anyway, because I have no jack plane. In future, I can have two planes ready all the time, one for the very fine work and one set for rougher tasks. I also bought a new whetstone. the old ones can be fixed, but it is a lot of work, for a time, when I am really really bored. The shop also had a very nice plow plane, but it costs over 400 Euro. Now I know, that ebay is not so bad at all.
I planed one face of a log for the bench top, easy going, only 19 faces to go for the lamination – perhaps tomorrow. I say “perhaps”, because I have a heavy cold and this sort of workout isn’t so much fun right now.
- This reply was modified 6 years, 7 months ago by Hugo Notti.
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