Using American Construction Grade Lumber

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    Topic
  • #393582
    Tom BirdTom Bird
    Participant

    Anyone willing to chat about their experience or thoughts on making this bench with American construction grade lumber?

    Because it is what I have available, and because I am on a tight budget, I plan to build most of it out of 2x4s, even though I know that that is going to mean a lot more work planing and edge gluing to come up with a sufficiently wide wellboard and set of aprons. Ugh… oh well. Just more opportunity to develope my skills!

    Any thoughts on altering some of the dimensions from the available plans and drawings, in order to make this project more friendly to these materials? For example, I’m thinking maybe skinnier legs so that they could be made from two 2x4s laminated together?

    Any guidance would be appreciated!

    Thanks!
    Nervous New Guy

Viewing 8 replies - 16 through 23 (of 23 total)
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  • #462916
    Will EvansWill Evans
    Participant

    @snavelliw

    If my use of HD lumber has resulted in the apron being approximately 1/4″ thinner than the 1 5/8″ in Paul’s plans should I compensate in any way? If the housing for the legs is 5/8″ deep should there be a give and take to allow for a full inch of remaining depth left in the apron?
    Working with this lumber has definitely been challenging, but I feel like I am learning a lot more than I would have buying perfect wood from a hardwood dealer.
    Cheers!

    #468945
    Mikael ArvolaMikael Arvola
    Member

    @arvola

    I just finished mine from the Home Depot douglas fir, and I’m very happy with the result. It’s from the older videos with two full tops. I used the 5/8″ recesses in the aprons to make sure the wedge has enough surface to push against, although I’m certainly no expert. So far I haven’t had any issues with the apron being thinner, and mine is even a bit less than 1½” due to planing it flat – about 1 and 3/8″.

    I hand planed the bench tops down to 3″ thick. That was a lot of work, but got rid of the rounding, so it looks quite good now.

    I laminated the legs from two pieces for a final size of 3″ by 2 and 3/4″, they’re plenty sturdy as far as I can tell.

    My two biggest problems with the material were: 1) The mortise holes look terrible, like Ed mentioned, it’s weirdly spongy. 2) Tear out when planing would go very, very deep. When I hit reverse grain with the scrub plane, it would take out 1/8″ deep gouges. Probably for similar reasons as the spongy end-grain in mortise holes.

    #470848
    Will EvansWill Evans
    Participant

    @snavelliw

    Thanks for the info Mikael, I will proceed with the housings as directed.
    I have not yet started on the legs, but it was definitely something I was wondering about. I am glad to hear that two 2×4 laminated together works fine, as that was the best I could figure would work and still have the mortises running through the glue lines.
    I have also had some epic tear out around knots using this lumber, even with a perfectly sharp iron. If the bigger chunks that are missing bother me or seem like they will catch and cause splinters I will just fill them in.

    #470972
    Mikael ArvolaMikael Arvola
    Member

    @arvola

    Indeed, the few tear outs that were left on the bench top after smoothing I just filled with 2-part epoxy to make sure they don’t catch, and used a card scraper to smooth them out.

    #475694
    Tom BirdTom Bird
    Participant

    @tbird

    This brings up a good question. It seems like those of us using construction grade lumber are inevitably going to face tear out and other deformities. (In my case: blemishes as result of poor workmanship!) What is the generally preferred method of filling these voids? 2-part epoxy as Mikael has mentioned? Generic wood filler? Personal preference?

    Tom

    #475708
    SandySandy
    Participant

    @sandy1man

    I built mine out of construction grade yellow pine. It was what was available. I build a lot of things out of pine and have not had issues with voids or breakouts. If it’s a really bad place I try to cut my parts in such a way that the bad spots get cut out or turned where you can’t see them. And, I don’t feel near as bad when I cut or scrape it up. BTW, I’ve been using my bench for about 3-4 months and I really like the design. I have another bench that has a 24 inch wide working surface and I have never used the back half. I love the new bench.

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    Albert Einstein

    #493432
    Jim BrunoJim Bruno
    Participant

    @jimbru

    [quote quote=462916]If my use of HD lumber has resulted in the apron being approximately 1/4″ thinner than the 1 5/8″ in Paul’s plans should I compensate in any way? If the housing for the legs is 5/8″ deep should there be a give and take to allow for a full inch of remaining depth left in the apron?
    Working with this lumber has definitely been challenging, but I feel like I am learning a lot more than I would have buying perfect wood from a hardwood dealer.
    Cheers![/quote]

    Hi!
    Maybe late to the party but this is my 2 cents on this question.
    I’m no expert in woodworking but have some experience in construction and have been looking at/reading about workbenches quite a bit. My analysis of the primary function of the apron is stabilizing the bench through giving rigidity to the legs and the secondary function is supporting the laminated slab so it doesn’t bend under load (impact or static).

    As the height of the apron is far more important than the thickness for creating the load bearing strength/bending under load (when calculating the strength you use the thickness times the height to the power of 2, giving that double the thickness will give double the strength whereas double the height will give four times the strength). This gives that the apron probably could be very thin, maybe even ½ inch, and still do it’s intended job to support the slab and give rigidity to the legs. It would require a different fastening method than the current though.
    What it would not do is add to the weight and heft of the bench, which is an important part of the impression, and presumably be too thin for attaching the vise.
    I read in an FAQ regarding the workbench was that Mr Sellers has experimented with the apron height and concluded that the “breaking point” for height was some 23 cm/9 inches if I remember correctly.

    My laymans judgment is that having approx. 1 inch of wood in the bottom of the recess is plenty strong and enough for this bench.

    Best of luck with your build! I hope to build one myself in the not too near future.
    Regards, Jim

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Jim BrunoJim Bruno.
    #462942
    Larry GeibLarry Geib
    Participant

    @lorenzojose

    My guess is that by the time Paul was done planing his boards they weren’t a full 1 5/8” either. Depending on the species, I’d compensate by keeping the proportions between apron and housing.

    But you could laminate a 3/4” backer to the apron and really beef it up instead of cutting the housing.
    I’ve seen other people’s designs for Nicholson benches that do this.

    None of this is etched in stone. Work with the materials you have.

    Here’s one example.

    Or here: https://blog.lostartpress.com/2014/09/08/download-free-plans-for-the-knockdown-nicholson-workbench/

    ( look closely at the backs of the aprons)

    I’d keep Paul’s wedge system in the housings. It’s what makes his design unique.

Viewing 8 replies - 16 through 23 (of 23 total)

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