19 December 2015 at 10:14 pm #133291
This thing is a beast, weighing in at about 220 lbs., including the two vises. The total lumber cost was about US$220 (for kiln dried fir), hardware about $30, glue about $15-20, new big steel vise from Lee Valley $180 (bought a year ago in anticipation).
My bench borrows from the Sellers bench in the leg construction, but it’s different otherwise. No aprons, no well board. The 3 1/8″ thick top is made of four pieces – two massive glued-up sections one 12 1/2″ and the other 11 1/4″, a 1 1/2″ center insert that can be raised 1/2″ as a stop and a 3/4″ back section that can also be raised as a stop or to keep things falling off the back.
To get extra weight and strength, I used glued up legs (2 3/4″ x 4″), lower rails (2 3/4″ x 4″) and stretchers (2 3/4″ x 6″). The upper rails and bearers were single boards.
I’ve been working on this for over a month. The bulk of that time was in stock prep – squaring, laminating, flattening, squaring again. The last couple weeks were cutting the joinery, assembly and vise fitting.
The bench is ROCK SOLID!! Even before the tops were put on, I assembled the base and when I gave it a little push, it went nowhere! My jaw dropped a little, the eyebrows raised and I got giddy with anticipation of using it. When I was fitting the smaller vise to the front section of the top, I had to cut a 5/8″ recess and I did this by overturning that section of top onto the back section of the top (so I used my new bench to help make my new bench). I could tell right then that my hammer blows on the chisel were far more solid than on my old bench.
I have a few minor details still to take care of. Need to do a final flattening of the top as assembled. Need to bore the dog holes and prepare new dogs, need to make some knobs for locking the adjustable back piece of the top, need to work on some storage options to hold shooting board and other things. Need to oil the whole thing, too. Will do that just before we go away for a few days after Christmas so the oil will have time to cure.
I can’t tell you how psyched I am to have this done. Can’t wait to start using it. I’ll put a few construction details in some follow-up replies below for those who are interested.
Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/19 December 2015 at 10:30 pm #133295David PaytonParticipant
Very nice Matt. I hope you have it where you want it!!
Dave19 December 2015 at 10:32 pm #133296Peter GeorgeParticipant
That looks very solid Matt (and looks really nice too).
I didn’t put aprons on my bench either. I use dogs and holdfasts all the time and an apron makes that less convenient. I’ll be interested to hear some feedback on how the stops in the middle and back of the bench work.
"New York is big, but this is Biggar"19 December 2015 at 10:32 pm #133297
You can see how twisted some of the top laminate 2×4’s were by the picture with winding sticks (the farther stick has a crown of blue tape for contrast). I leaned the boards against the garage door for several days to acclimate to my garage. The garage door heated up during the daytime – I don’t know if that contributed to the twist.
Each laminated section of the top was done with 9 boards, so I worked fast during glue-up and had lots of clamps ready. It took all my strength to close up the gaps as best as I could.
The flattening was fairly straight forward, but time consuming. Be very patient – check, plane, check, plane, check, plane, etc……….
I filled (jam pack filled) 6 garbage bags with shavings during this project. Fortunately I found people to give them to (for hamster bedding, composting and garden mulch) so they’re not in a landfill.
Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/19 December 2015 at 10:57 pm #133302
Leg And Stretcher Assemblies:
The leg assemblies were similar to Paul’s bench with through protruding tenons (homage to Paul) for the bottom rails and through flush haunched tenons for the top rails. I had a poorly fitting tenon on one lower rail, so I ended up reinforcing it by drawboring two oak pegs that are only seen from the inside (peg holes were not bored all the way through).
The stretchers are attached to the leg assemblies with short (3/4″), fat (1″) tenons in wide, shallow mortises. A 9/16″ hole was drilled with brace and bit through the center of the mortise. A hole was also drilled through the end of the tenon and into the stretcher (aligned with the hole through the mortise), ending in a cavity that houses a hidden nut for the long bolt that pulls the thing together. The cavity is only seen from the inside of the stretcher. My pictures are not high resolution, but you can see the holes on the left stretcher in the base assembly picture below. No glue was used to attach the stretchers to the leg assemblies. This allows the bench to be disassembled if I ever need to.
Before final assembly, I put a 1/2″ x 1/2″ rabbet on the upper inside edges of the stretchers to hold a fitted piece of 1/2″ plywood for a shelf to house my bench planes.
Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/19 December 2015 at 11:07 pm #133306
@pjgeorge – Thanks Peter. It’s funny, I don’t even know if I’ll use the stops. I put the center stop in as a solution to the problem of having two hulking laminate top pieces that I knew I could never glue together. Someone (I think it was jotato) suggested this idea that Billy (form Billy’s Little Bench blog) used in one of his benches and I liked the idea.
@davepayton – Thanks Dave. Hopefully I’ll not need to move it, but time will tell. And it shimmies around without too much exertion.
Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/20 December 2015 at 5:33 am #133310Derek LongParticipant
Looking good, Matt! Here’s to seeing what comes off that bench in the future.
Denver, Colorado20 December 2015 at 1:07 pm #133311Brett aka PheasantwwParticipant
Matt, A very fine looking and functional bench. I have dog holes in line with both my vices and I use them all the time. Especially the ones lined up with tail vice, mostly for planing.
Located in Honeoye Falls NY USA. The Finger Lakes region of Western NY.
"If you give me 6 hours to fell a tree, I will take the first 4 to sharpen my axe" Abe Lincoln20 December 2015 at 7:25 pm #133318
Brett – On my old bench I used the dog holes for the tail vise for planing and I’ll do that for this new bench. But I’m still not sure if I want dog holes lined up with the front vise. I’ll let time tell me whether or not to put them in. For now, I may use Paul’s clamp-in-the-vise system.
Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/20 December 2015 at 10:30 pm #133322Greg MerrittParticipant
Nice bench build Matt! Enjoy putting it to work.
http://hillbillydaiku.com21 December 2015 at 3:22 am #133330Martin McCollParticipant
Great looking bench Matt. Enjoy using it.
Martin ... Tucson, Arizona, USA.21 December 2015 at 5:11 am #133331kevinjamesParticipant
That looks great!
Kevin21 December 2015 at 5:46 am #133334Peter GeorgeParticipant
Matt, On my current bench, I left out the dog holes for the front vise because I never use them. I use the ones for my inset vise all the time, and there are others I use for holdfasts.
"New York is big, but this is Biggar"23 December 2015 at 3:11 pm #133370Marilyn MorenoParticipant
The bench is great. I know you’ll have a fantastic time woodworking.
Marilyn - Lehigh Valley, Eastern Pennsylvania - USA23 December 2015 at 4:55 pm #133372Keith WylesParticipant
Looks great. Mine is more like Paul’s design. I also keep my planes underneath the bench. Made a unit on castors that sits under part of it. 2 lower drawers with a shelf on top for my main planes. Even though I have a tail vice I haven’t put in any dog holes.
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