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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2021
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    31

    Default WIP: Split top bench

    This workbench is my first major wood working process and has been in progress for some time now. I started building a bench as I didn't have any real work holding solutions. My current bench is just some MDF on legs with a bamboo office desktop on top, there's not ability to hold work and it moves more than a toddler that's been told firmly to stand still.

    The initial purchase of tools required at the start of taking up wood working has made me fairly price conscious for this build. My initial plan was to build an English style bench based on the Paul Sellers design using old roofing batons from my Mums partners house. That hit a snag for a couple of reasons; firstly the batons needed a lot of cleaning and it took a very long time; secondly I had strong doubts that I had enough wood to build a sturdy enough bench.

    After my first attempts to clean the batons I learnt a lot more about setting up a hand plan and learnt how to take more aggressive shavings and avoid clogging.

    The bench will now be built from 90x45 MGP10 with a boarder from the some of the roof batons. The rails and stretchers will be 90x90 to help add weight but this does mean I'll need to use a double tenon to join them to the legs.

    A leg vice from MC Jing will be the primary vice and coupled with a crochet. A small Baladonia front vice will be attached to the tail.

    I've gone with a split time design primarily due to not having clamping capacity to laminate a 600 ish wide top and I hope that the gap in the middle will be helpful for bench hook jigs like shooting boards.


    At the moment I've laminated the tops and legs and thicknessed one top, I had hoped for an 85mm thick top but I did a poor job with the glue up and will end up with a top about 80mm thick.

    My biggest struggle with the project has not been the wood working itself as my perfectionism, in that everything needs to be perfect. A key example of this is trying to make everything perfectly flat when flattening stock or jointing.


    Bench Design

    top.jpgbase.jpgbench.jpg

    Batons before and after cleanup

    IMG_7428.jpgIMG_8274.jpg

    Wedge clamp and top lamination

    IMG_8445.jpg


    Flattening a top
    IMG_8465.jpg


    Trimmed ends

    IMG_8467.jpg

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2021
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    31

    Default

    Have made a little bit of progress since the last update.

    I cleaned up surface glue on the legs with my orbital and 40grit. I used pencil lines to help find and remove high points and ended up making the leg surfaces quite close to square. One leg has been squared up with the hand plane and the sanding helped make the process much easier.

    The two tops had been flattened and thicknessed but I rechecked my work the next day and was not happy with what I saw. I feel that I did a poor job sharpening my plane blades on the first attempt making things harder for myself. I resharpened the blades and went worked to correct my mistakes and am happier with the results.

    Knots on the top have caused me a bit of grief so I used the pencil line and sanding process to help flatten a bit better for the time being. The top, front edge and bottom are square so I'm happy with that. Once the table is built I'll plane the tops level and flatten to a tighter tolerance. I'll need to increase the camber on one of my plane irons to help handle the knots.

    Flattening the tops has helped me learn more about planing the face of wood at different angles to give a uniform level of flatness.

    Thicknessing

    IMG_8468.jpg

    More garden ground cover

    IMG_8469.jpg


    Lines for flattening sanding
    IMG_8470.jpg

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Millmerran,QLD
    Age
    71
    Posts
    9,321

    Default

    SDB

    That's an awful lot of fire starter you have there.

    The split top Roubo is probably my favourite style of work bench so from my point of view a very good choice.

    Regards
    Paul
    Bushmiller;

    "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!"

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2021
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    31

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bushmiller View Post
    SDB

    That's an awful lot of fire starter you have there.

    The split top Roubo is probably my favourite style of work bench so from my point of view a very good choice.

    Regards
    Paul

    It's all cleaned up now but I'm sure that I'll have another pile soon enough though lol.

    I'm hoping that I can use the split to help with my workflow and make things more efficient. One example is making a strop that slots in there for when pairing so I can just strop without needing to leave the bench.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2021
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    31

    Default

    I've finished squaring up the legs and am now looking fixing the width deviation on the bench tops. The back edges are not parallel to the front and this will make things difficult when making jig which utilise the gap between the two tops. One tops back edge is pretty good but the other has a deviation of about 9mm across the length. The plane is to use a circular saw.

    I have used a scrap of tassie oak to increase the reference area of the circular saws fence. I did some test cuts on some 45mm thick construction ply and am very happy with the results. The back edge doesn't need to be perfect but an improvement is needed.

    I reground all my plane blades as it was about time and cambered one heavily for scrubbing. I'm now kicking myself that I didn't camber a plane iron for scrubbing earlier as it's made a huge improvement for heavy removal. On the topic of planes I am using two number 4's one for scrub and one for general purpose / targeting removal and a number 7 for overall flattening.

    I've drawn up a rough layout on one of the tops to get an idea of how my planned sized will translate from design to real world and made some adjustments.

    Next steps
    - Fix back edge
    - Dry layout to determine lengths for rails and boarders
    - Make rails
    - Make edge boarders

    So far it feels like so much work has been done but also like the surface has barely been scratched. I am honestly surprised at the amount of time required to prep stock by hand, however I have learnt so much about the process I have no regrets going the hand tool route.


    Circular saw fence and test cut
    IMG_8483.jpgIMG_8484.jpg

    Layout and notes to self

    IMG_8482.jpg

    The plane gang

    IMG_8479.jpgIMG_8474.jpg

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    melbourne
    Posts
    37

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sdbrett View Post
    Knots on the top have caused me a bit of grief so I used the pencil line and sanding process to help flatten a bit better for the time being. The top, front edge and bottom are square so I'm happy with that. Once the table is built I'll plane the tops level and flatten to a tighter tolerance. I'll need to increase the camber on one of my plane irons to help handle the knots.
    i reckon you could drill and chisel out the knots down to an inch or so depth, like cutting a big mortise, and then inlay a bit of clear timber in their place? and then you wouldn't have to plane the knots at all, this time or in the future when you want to reflatten it

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2021
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    31

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by banana View Post
    i reckon you could drill and chisel out the knots down to an inch or so depth, like cutting a big mortise, and then inlay a bit of clear timber in their place? and then you wouldn't have to plane the knots at all, this time or in the future when you want to reflatten it
    I had that exact thought but it was after I'd done the initial flatten but I'm am intended to revisit it before the final flattening.

    And now I feel ashamed for thinking like a banana.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    4,278

    Default

    I saw exactly this from this Japanese shokonin.... knots and holes

    Route out the nasty, put in a bung, flatten it off....

    If you use Instagram, this is well worth adding into your list: Chantarokichi

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    …ire
    Age
    36
    Posts
    132

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sdbrett View Post
    I'll need to increase the camber on one of my plane irons to help handle the knots
    Hello there, sounds like you've got the wrong end of the sthick.
    That's the exact opposite that you need to be doing!
    Learn to use the cap iron, and the grain won't get plucked, regardless of grain direction,
    Something like this will work, if you can match this profile, that's about 1/64"
    I'd shoot for a larger camber like 1/32" if you can get away with it not tearing out the grain.
    (If you have a wee bit more work to do)

    SAM_3787.jpg
    Regarding info on the subject specifically David W on youtube or search Mr Weaver's "Setting a Cap iron article"on woodcentral.
    Honestly, there's not much others you can trust, Derek Cohen's a good source for this info either.
    Most gurus have vested interests not to show this!, whether that's selling kit or making silly clickbait controversial videos like recently.

    Basically ..
    1, Just make sure the mouth is NOT SMALL i.e frog should be all the way back flush with casting,
    2, The cap iron honed around 50 degrees, steeper means more camber/cap iron can be set further away.
    3, Don't set the cap further than 1/32" from the edge, I hope you haven't knocked the corners of the smother you have already.

    And you'll never need a scraper again for flat work ever again.
    Best of luck with the build

    Tom

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2021
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    31

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom trees View Post
    Hello there, sounds like you've got the wrong end of the sthick.
    That's the exact opposite that you need to be doing!
    Learn to use the cap iron, and the grain won't get plucked, regardless of grain direction,
    Something like this will work, if you can match this profile, that's about 1/64"
    I'd shoot for a larger camber like 1/32" if you can get away with it not tearing out the grain.
    (If you have a wee bit more work to do)

    SAM_3787.jpg
    Regarding info on the subject specifically David W on youtube or search Mr Weaver's "Setting a Cap iron article"on woodcentral.
    Honestly, there's not much others you can trust, Derek Cohen's a good source for this info either.
    Most gurus have vested interests not to show this!, whether that's selling kit or making silly clickbait controversial videos like recently.

    Basically ..
    1, Just make sure the mouth is NOT SMALL i.e frog should be all the way back flush with casting,
    2, The cap iron honed around 50 degrees, steeper means more camber/cap iron can be set further away.
    3, Don't set the cap further than 1/32" from the edge, I hope you haven't knocked the corners of the smother you have already.

    And you'll never need a scraper again for flat work ever again.
    Best of luck with the build

    Tom

    Thanks for that info, setting cap irons and reducing tear out has been an on going challenge that I'm still trying to resolve. I'll have a look at the video and article in detail. The cap iron bevel is new info that I need to check.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2021
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    31

    Default

    Since the last update there have been few set backs due to mistakes and rework was required, but overall I'm ahead.

    I tried to repair some cracks in the vice chop with epoxy resin which didn't cure, the most likely reason being inaccurate measuring. The mistake was extend to the wood intended for the table boarders; I decided to use the excess epoxy to fill tiny cracks and protect fill the gum veins.

    Thankfully the boarder pieces weren't thicknessed so cleaning up didn't screw anything up, just cost time.

    The wood for the chop isn't worth trying to salvaging for it's intended purpose, instead I will be laminating a new one from about 9 batons. I have considered just buying a 190x35 (or so) board to speed things up, still haven't ruled that out.

    Another set back was mis measuring the amount of wood I removed from a board piece by a couple of mm, making it too short. So more stock prep and lamination.

    On the positives!!!

    Stock preparation is nearly complete and that feels like a massive milestone is about to be completed. It has taken a huge amount of time but I can definitely see improvement in my dimensioning skills and workflow, tasks are much faster and less mistakes.

    The screw hole and criss cross mortice have been completed on the leg vice leg.
    IMG_8516.jpgIMG_8518.jpg

    I've cut out the shapes which will be inlayed into the vice chop. Imaginary points for anyone who recognises it.
    IMG_8507.jpeg

    Rails and legs have been labeled and assigned, all are ready for mortice and tenons.


    A fair bit of time has been spent on tool maintenance, fixing chip breakers and flattening the backs of my chisels.

    Tuning the chip breakers has make a huge difference. After reading the articles provided by Tom I looked closer to the chip breakers and found that their tips were either rounded or the contact point was behind the tip meaning the tip as lifted. I spent a lot of time fixing that and getting them sharp enough to cut paper.
    IMG_8521.jpgIMG_8523.jpg

    One chip breaker is so bad that it's going into the bin.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    4,278

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sdbrett View Post
    I've cut out the shapes which will be inlayed into the vice chop. Imaginary points for anyone who recognises it.
    IMG_8507.jpeg
    A certain WW2 German political party?

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2021
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    31

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by woodPixel View Post
    A certain WW2 German political party?

    No, it's not political at all

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2021
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    31

    Default

    The tenons at the top of the lets have been cut and the results are a pretty average and I don't think that they will form a great fit when I chop the benchtop mortises.

    I haven't really cut tenons before and I think that the size (180x85) of the tenons made things a bit harder, especially sawing straight.

    I've decided to work with what I have and thought of a couple of methods to help make up for the short falls in from the tenon cutting.

    Using polythene glue instead of PVA to help fill small gaps
    Use wedges to help fill larger voids
    Drive a large dowel through the legs and table, like a draw bore but without the offset, below is an image showing what I have in mind for the dowel

    Screen Shot 2021-05-19 at 11.17.41 am.jpg

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Newcastle
    Posts
    378

    Default

    What is wrong with the tenons?

    If you haven't cut the mortises yet, you should be able to fix the tenons and then cut the mortices to match.

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