Thread: Long-overdue workbench build
18th Sep 2017, 11:58 AM #1
Long-overdue workbench build
I have been wanting to build a workbench for many years but for various reasons I have not done so yet despite numerous false starts. There have been time and space considerations as well as the physical and mental challenges experienced by many of us retired servicemen but right now the project seems to be taking off in a way that I probably could not stop it even if for some unknown reason I wanted it to stop.
When I was learning woodwork as a teenager I had access to a Scandinavian style bench with a tailvise and shouldervise so naturally that is the type of bench I have always been drawn to. The bench I learned on went to the oldest grandson, me being the second-oldest.
I got copy of "The Workbench Book" by Scott Landis and found the plans for Frank Klausz's bench probably 10 years ago. I also read other works such as Christopher Schwarz's offerings mostly singing the praises of Roubo benches but having looked at all the options objectively I am sticking with the Scandinavian bench and pretty much the Frank Klausz plan. Similar to this one:
I bought the vise hardware about 10 years ago too and have carted them around with me over a number of relocations including interstate ones.
Over the last few years I have been fortunate enough to have been gifted or managed to scrounge all the timber I need to make the bench. I had not started out with this being the intention. I had always thought I would be buying timber to make it but somehow the alignment of the planets was very favourable. As the thread goes on I will elaborate on where the various timber components came from. A lot of it it better than I could have hoped to buy for its intended purpose.
I had originally decided not to do a build thread for reasons I will not go into and as such a fair bit of the work has already been done. I have however documented a fair bit of it along the way so I can still post it here retrospectively to show how I have done it.
Over the next couple of days I hope to post some more photos (of the actual bench - not just one like it this time) of what I have done and hopefully if the wind, cold and rain go away and leave me a nice sunny day like yesterday, I might just get some more done.
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18th Sep 2017, 12:12 PM #2SENIOR MEMBER
- Join Date
- Oct 2011
Pulling up my chair and watching this one......
Thanks for sharing Doug"All the gear and no idea"
18th Sep 2017, 01:59 PM #3
Nice one Doug
Should be a great show and tell.
And will it be ready for viewing at your GTG?
18th Sep 2017, 02:07 PM #4
As I said above, I have already done a fair bit of the work on the bench, both the trestles and the top, so for clarity I will start out with the trestles, which need to be finished anyway before I can get much more done on the top. Most of what I have done on the top so far is just laminating pieces together anyway.
So lets talk trestles. Here is the trestle material as it was given to me:
These Oregon beams were given to me by (Forum Member) Gabriel, who acquired them as part of his day job. He gave them to me specifically for use in the workbench he knew I was going to make. He thought four beams - four legs, but with them being just over 5" square each there was a lot more in them than just that. Four full legs plus the shouldervise leg, two each of feet, top rails and short and long stretchers - in fact the entire trestle structure came from Gab's very thoughtful and generous gift. I also managed to make new handles for my grandson's block trolley out of the offcuts and there are still a few other useful bits. I also made an angled spacer (2.5 degrees) that will be used to help cut the dogholes in the top and tailvise. More on that later.
Although all the timber for my bench build has been acquired at no cost, the Oregon beams from Gab are the only ones which were offered to me specifically for the workbench, which makes it kind of special. Thanks heaps Gab, you are a true gentleman.
I figured the best way to clean up the Oregon beams was to use the 21 inch bandsaw and the resaw blade. I was able to cut the paint off the sides of the beams so thinly that you could see the green paint through the timber I removed from the sides a lot of the time. It really pays to take the time to tune your bandsaw properly. I do it according to the Alex Snodgrass video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGbZqWac0jU
Here's what they looked like after a close shave with the resaw blade:
There was one screw hiding under the paint on one beam but the mighty resaw blade took it in its stride and I was none the wiser until I saw a glint of metal when I was packing up after the job.
Those four beams were cut to rough size on the bandsaw then dressed on the jointer and thicknesser to make all the components listed above and look like this:
Nothing is trimmed to length yet or any joinery done. From left to right - long and short trestle feet, long and short trestle top rail, four main legs, shoulder vise leg and two long stretchers, which will also yeild the two short stretchers when trimmed to length.
Just looking at my large paved area in the photo there - yesterday in the nice weather, I had six machines (21" bandsaw, Triton workcentre, 8" jointer, 15" thicknesser, drill press and a lathe) all outside in the open air along with a temporary workbench set up on two superjaws. I got a fair bit done yesterday!
The way the bench goes together the two end trestles are glued together but the two trestles are joined by the long stretchers that are attached by bolts and captive nuts. I also have some leg levelers I wish to fit. Because the trestles and stretchers are Oregon, I thought it might be a good idea to apply some reinforcement to make these areas a bit more durable.
But that's enough for now.
18th Sep 2017, 02:12 PM #5
There is an outside chance it could be all completed but I am aiming to have it all done except for the tailvise. There is almost as much work in the tailvise as there is in the rest of the bench.
There will definitely be something that is recognizable as a workbench by the time my GTG is on.
18th Sep 2017, 10:19 PM #6
Love a bench build. Chair pulled up, taking notes and will offer constructive advice if I can.
20th Sep 2017, 08:52 PM #7
These are the leg levelers, from an old desk.
Rather than them being the supports the bench rests on, they will be used as an aid to leveling the bench and holding the bottoms of he legs off the ground while suitable shims are inserted. That's the plan anyway.
Because Oregon is a bit hit and miss with hardness, I decided to drill out some holes and fill them with some old redgum fencepost material (also given to me for free) that is not much use for anything else. I turned the redgum on the lathe to match the hole size. These inserts will then be covered with a piece of Ironbark - offcuts from the benchtop, so that the Oregon is not resting directly on the ground. Once the ironbark is glued on I can drill the holes into the ironbark and redgum to hold the leg levelers.
20170917_135642.jpeg 20170917_142039.jpeg 20170917_173451.jpg
In the last photo above the inserts are glued in and thicknessed flat ready for the Ironbark strips to cover them, but I will not be attaching them until I have cut the mortises into the top side as adding bits on might make workholding more difficult.
I also put some hardwood inserts into the legs where the bolts attach the stretchers. This way the heads of the bolts will be supported by endgrain hardwood and not long grain oregon. I believe the hardwood to be Jarrah
That's enough for now
21st Sep 2017, 10:16 PM #8
I spent a bit of time cutting mortises. Drill press and a 1/2" and 1" forstner bits were my friends.
With a fair bit of chisel work to finish cutting them out, I dragged out the "temporary workbench" - a plank between two superjaws. When I have used the temporary bench in the past it has been little stuff and I have used a z-vise as a (pretty poor) substitute for a tailvise. This was fine for what it is but it was time to upgrade the plank.
So I put a 3/4" forstner bit in the drill press and made some holdfast holes. I debated whether to just make a couple of holes to get me through the day but I decided to put two staggered rows down while I had everything set up. That should make sure I don't need to drill any more temporary holdfast holes for the rest of the build.
And there it is in use. I now have the option to use wonderdogs and holdfasts, them both using 3/4" or 19mm holes. Life is good.
Oregon is an interesting material to cut mortises into. There is a considerable difference in the hardness of the timber in the growth rings. it alternates between 1 to 4 mm of hard timber and then 1 to 4 mm of soft wood. You find yourself with one side of the chisel in the soft stuff and the other side in hard wood, with both subject to change at a moment's notice. Anyway I nearly got all the mortises finished but I had to pack up about an hour earlier than planned when the rain started.
It might be a quiet day tomorrow, a couple of appointments to attend. One day of the weekend will be a trip to the Ballarat wood show. I will post another update when something happens
22nd Sep 2017, 08:39 AM #9SENIOR MEMBER
- Join Date
- Sep 2010
- Port Sorell, Tasmania
Like your work Doug. You seem to be using a similar approach to building as I often get sucked into; not engineering, but over-engineering.
TonyYou can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. ~Oscar Wilde
22nd Sep 2017, 08:54 AM #10
I want this to be the only bench I build so it will be bomb-proof. If it takes a couple of hours to reinforce some joints now so I do not have to build a new set of trestles in 20 years time when it is even harder to get down on my hands and knees than it is now, it is time well spent and costs me no more than an eggcup full of glue.
As someone once said:
“Any idiot can build a bridge that stands, but it takes an engineer to build a bridge that barely stands.”
While I do not intend to abuse my bench I do not want to feel reluctant to put some pressure on it for fear of it breaking.
24th Sep 2017, 04:14 PM #11
Cutting the tenons.
I wanted nice crisp lines on the shoulders of the tenons so it is time for a new blade. Here's one i prepared earlier:
The old one was very old, having been used for recovering a lot of recycled timber so I did the full cleanup, even flattening the flanges holding he blade to the arbor on some 800 grit wet and dry and a general cleanup of the triton saw and workcentere while it was all open. Everything seems to be still working alright and set up accurately (for a triton).
I put the dial indicator on the side of the new blade and found out it had 2/100ths of a millimetre runout. I might come back and see if I can fix that one day when I have nothing better to do
The mortises I cut the other day for the four main legs to go into the feet and top rail were nominally 3" x 1". I checked them with the callipers and found that I had done pretty good.
The long dimension was between 2 63/64" and 3 1/128" and the short dimension ranged from 1 1/128" to 127/128". The mortises for the tailvise leg, nominally 1" x 1 7/8" were also good with everything being spot on except one was 1 1/128" wide.
I cut all the tenons to the "nominal" sizes as all the mortises were so close and had to do minimal fitting to get them all in. A little bit of chiseling to remove a few lumps from the sides and corners of the odd mortise.
I cut the shoulders on the triton, using the magnetic switch base of the dial indicator as a length stop to save a lot of layout work, using the triton triangle to guide them through the cut. Before cutting along the shoulder line I did test cuts on the tip of a tenon and tried them in the mortises.
I cut the cheeks on the bandsaw, sneaking up on the right width with test cuts to just the tip until I had it right then it was quick and accurate after that.
I still have to cut the short stretchers to length and cut and fit the tenons on them and shape the ends of the feet and top rails before I can glue the two trestles together. As part of shaping the ends of the feet I also have to fit the leg levelers.
It is getting windy here now and starting to look like rain so I had better get outside and do what I can before the weather stops me. Hopefully I can get a lot more done today
24th Sep 2017, 06:47 PM #12
Great write up.
Believe it or not I have nothing constructive or destructive to say[emoji41].
But just want to in courage you to keep us all informed.
And remember there will be a very close review and examination by some of us very soon.
24th Sep 2017, 07:12 PM #13
26th Sep 2017, 10:06 PM #14
Today I fitted the leg levelers. I had already drilled the holes - 38mm for the base, 16mm for the nut and 12mm right through to enable access to the top of the leg leveler with a screwdriver.
Marking out the hexagonal shape in the bottom of the 38mm hole was too tricky, so after considering several ways to mark it accurately I decided to just freehand it. It was fairly simple to do as the 16mm hole was the measurement across the flats of the nuts so I chiseled a flat side parallel to the sides of the feet and then cut in the other four sides to meet at the points in the middle, estimating the angles. The first one was just a tad undersized but able to be driven into place by screwing one of the levelers into the nut and hitting it with a mallet. It fit so tightly I decided not to pull it out and glue it in. Its going nowhere and gravity will hold it in when in use anyway. So I did all four of them the same.
The nut set in place
with the leveler screwed in.
and from the side showing that the leveler can be fully retracted
I also shaped the ends of the top rails and feet. I rough cut them on the bandsaw then cleaned them up with my Auriou cabinet rasp (10" 11 grain). When I sand the parts before gluing the trestles together they will be finish sanded.
Both ends of the two top rails after the rasp:
One end of the two feet: The hole is of course for screwdriver access to the leg levelers.
If I get a chance to get the stretchers finished tomorrow and sand everything up I may even get the two trestles glued up.
27th Sep 2017, 07:35 AM #15
Looking good so far Doug;
I was trying to visualise how the red gum inserts and the ironbark strips were used to house the levellers but I think I've got it now; the strips form the feet and are about about an inch thick?
That new Triton blade; is it a true triple chip that leaves a flat bottomed cut? If so; where did you get it from please?
Looking forward to seeing the completed trestles.A thief stole my anti-depressants. I hope he’s happy now.
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