I would like to build a bench using maple. I want to make the top close to 3″ thick and 30″x78″. I am worried about keeping it flat while I glue it up and thinking of gluing one board at a time. I would like to use 8/4 lumber but the cost is 50% more. I understand 4/4 would produce a more stable bench. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks.
I built my bench similar to the way you are contemplating. 28" x 99". I used 8/4 beech (nothing wrong with you using maple) and ripped it out of planks which resulted in a largely quarter sawn top. I glued up 3 to 4 strips at a time (one after the other or until you run out of clamps) thus giving me 3 assemblies which I ran over the jointer and then glued these sections together. After this I glued on 8/4 x sixes on each long edge. I surfaced one side with a jointer plane(took about an hour and a couple sharpenings along with plenty of sweat) after which I took it to a friend with a 30 inch planer and surfaced the other side. Come to think of it I guess I did that before I glued on the 8/4 x sixes. Anyhow doing it that way breaks it down into manageable sections and it wasn't that difficult.
Thanks for the information.
You are welcome. A couple of further thoughts. First don't make the mistake of making it too high. Not more than 36 inches. Made mine 38 but it's a little too high for planing wider stock. Second stick with the width you have in mind. As I stated before mine is 28 inches wide and I wouldn't want it narrower. Third (I know I said a couple of thoughts LOL) if you have the room to place it where you can comfortably access all four sides then do it. If this is the case then consider putting a vise on each corner.
Here I go again with these 'schools of thought'....with regard to height of workbench.
If you stand erect with you hands at your side..stick you thumb out...that is the appropriate height for the working surface. good luck
Your plan will work, however, it'll be bear joining all those narrow pieces. Last spring, when I built mine, I was advised by folks on here to keep the boards as wide as possible. Maple is a great wood but can have internal stresses that when sliced bows considerably. Anyhow, I went back to the hardwood supplier and got about 6" wide boards 12/4 and went from there. Also, to each his own, but, I'm curious, why so wide?
BG, thanks for the information. I wanted the bench wider than 24" because that seems narrow. How wide is your bench? You said you used 6" wide 12/4 and was advised to use boards as wide as possible. I have always heard that wide boards cup. Is your bench about 3 3/4" thick?
I think my bench is in the 22" range..but I did see benches inthe 18-22" range. One school of thought is the benchis used to work on wood...holding it for planing, chopping, etc. Given that you need to get your weight over the plane to do it effectively, why have it wider than you can effectively plane..you've probably seen those square workbenches whose work area is effectively about 12". Anyhow, that is just one school of thought.
The wood I bought for my bench started out as 12/4 (3") and after planing was/is about 2 3/4 thick. The boards around edge are about 4"...with 5 1/2" (about) at the vises. They also started out about 7" plus or minus 1/2"....after jointing..about 61/2". Cupping may be more an issue with 4/4 12 wide boards...not so much with my size I believe and I did select the grain carefully. I gotta tell ya..at glue up I did not watch the grain so much...is was a bear to plane...live and learn
Given that you need to get your weight over the plane to do it effectively, why have it wider than you can effectively plane...
Granted, most plane and chisel work is done over a relatively narrow area of the bench. For some of us, however, the workbench must pull double or triple duty. Since my basement shop is relatively small, my work bench also serves as an assembly bench, thus its 26" width.
Also, for those of us who sometimes have more than one project on the bench at a time, the extra space sure comes in handy.
When it comes to managing in a small shop, unfortunately, I've got lots of experience. I try to keep the workbench clean so, like the cabinet saw, it's always ready to go. I have a 30x40 table on wheels with a couple of shelves and a draw. This doubles as an outfeed table for the saw and set up table for projects. The shelves hold the prepared pieces before assembly. Also, I have a solid core door with fold up legs that can hold assembled pieces for finishing.
Enough of the bragging...back to the workbench. As soon as I started to use the bench the hand tools became an issue. You need those close buy and they have to be treated with respect (eg. don't bang the chisels). Also, I wanted to be able to secure them in case the furnace man was in the basement. I built a 12"x3'x4' cabinet with two 4" box doors that mounted on the wall over the bench. this holds all my hand tools and protable power tools that get used regularly. It is lockable. It really helps keep things organized and fairly clean. Gees...I thought I said enough bragging...sorry
No better timing for this discussion. Im also building my bench, I am using 2.5 x 3.5" beech and have decided to make it 22" x 60". My problem with making it longer is that anything over 60" will be in my kitchen and I am afraid the kids won't keep it clean:). Seriously though, should I drill and bolt thru with allthread? I think I saw this somewhere..don't remember. Could anyone share their plans and is the tool tray a good idea?
Thanks for all the info sofar ..all good considerations on width, height etc
I love the idea of a tool tray but I do have one concern. I'm left handed and can only plane one way. With out a second set of dog holes going down the other side of the bench I would have a problem doing raised panels. Of course, some would put the tool tray in the middle of the workbench (..as he opens a can of fresh worms)
Tool tray or not is quite personal. I have had an old Tennessee Hardwoods oak bench ($140 back then) for 20+ years, and it came with a tool tray, so I got used to it. I use one section (15"?) for my common measuring and marking tools (pencils, small machinists 4" square, my Lee Valley corner marking thing-a-ma-jig, hook and regular rulers, etc. Others for a mallet, wedges, used sandpaper, shims, and cauls. No other tools, on a regular basis. This way I can grab quickly, and these things get used daily, hourly. Others find it a collection area and hate them. Very personal.
I think the all-thread is a real design flaw, but could be wrong. Snug it down in the winter when the hum. is low, and in the summer, when high, where does the extra width go? I don't know, but don't think I would like it. Seems counter to good design principles for wood. You might want to check the shrinkalator, but if memory serves, beech is quite expansive, winter to summer. If you live in AZ, this may not matter. ( I recall Dad making pie segmented clocks, and they were fine in Az, but in Philadelphia mine came apart like crazy.)
If you don't yet have it, the Wookbench Book by Scott Landis is a great resource. I am making a modified Fortune Nelson bench. No dogleg, has a tail vise, has a tool tray (which the Fortune Nelson bench does not). The way I am building the tool tray, the outside edge is structural, and can be used for clamping a larger piece. Total width is 26-ish. My present one is 30", so I am used to this size. Mine is 6' long, but I would have built it at 8' or more is room allowed. I am on the shorter side (5-7), so the height is 32", but I will make a sled for the sled to raise it to 38" on occassion.
For my end caps and stretchers, I am using 6 x 1/2" bolts, with a captured square nut, not the 3.8 x 4" with tab welds. Just put them all in, and they are very strong!
I like the loks of the tool drawer in the Woodcraft catalogue, and would love to see a print of it or at least its mechanism. Seems to open both out and down to display the tools for easy reaching of a chisel or plane. Anyone know how they do this?
I have a 3x7 mapple work bench and ist just under 3" thick.
It was made a little different than you are planing to do but its the best bench Ive ever made.
We used 8/4 mapple. cut them to 3" width and plained them flat and smooth.appx.1 3/4 thick. we glued them face to face. and sanded them into a flat surface with a belt sander after the glue set.
its been 5years now and there has been no problems with the bench, its rock solid and has taken everything I have thrown at it.
You might consider using a few biscuits well down from the work surface .It will reduce the amount of planing, also as mentioned watch the grain orientation .
I built my bench in the same manner you're contemplating. The top is 32" x 100" x 4" thick made of white ash. I then rough surfaced one side using a power plane and straight edge. Satisfied that one side was relatively flat I took it to a local cabinet shop who thickness sanded the top through 120 grit. They charged me $125.00 (SE Pennsylvania). I was quite pleased with the results. I felt that the wide belt sander would be less prone to tear out and chipping than a planer would be.
If I was to do it again,I'd make more of an effort to keep the rough glue up dead flat. Since I didn't have a flat surface large enough, I basically assembled the glue up on the floor. In doing so, I introduced a bit of a twist to the top which necessitated sanding more off than I originally intended in order to get a good, flat top.
Good Luck with your bench
Thanks for the advise. Does anyone know anything about the "Veritas Twin Screw" vice. It is the one connected with a piece of bike chain so that you can turn one screw and the other one turns, too. For less money I could put two vices on the end and wonder if I wouldn't like that better. I want to put a full width vice on the end of the bench.
The Veritas twin screw is very cool looking and I really wanted one. I read several comments on here (other treads)that made me shy away. Apparently set up and keeping it aligned can be problematic and the big issue is no quick release feature. Another issue, that may be just me, is all of these wood type vises, that is, the jaws are hunks of wood only and connected to the actual vise with screws, have a greater degree of deflection. The deflection issue is not that big when holding something for face planing, but when jointing a 6' piece of 5/4 or larger you need to support the end of the board...the vise can't do it alone.
Anyhow, I love wooden handles so I went with the Jorgenson...it certainly added a lot of weight to the bench...
I pondered many different vise designs for my bench. I found a little illustration in Scott Landis' Workbench book showing a Loeffelholz vise from, I believe the 16th century. The arrangement appealed to my engineering background because of how the forces of the bench screw are transmitted to the top via the fully housed sliding vise block. I adapted the idea to my bench and using steel flat bar for the sliding track and carriage. I attached the sliding block from below. What I ended up with is a tail vise that I could probably crush rocks with. Building two of them into your top would only increase its versatility, as they cab be adjusted independently of one another.
For the front vise, I built a steel reinforced Scandanavian vise which is performing very well. I like the Scandanavian design because I can clamp most any work in it, up to and including an entry door for mortising hinges and such.
One idiosyncracy that I discovered was that since the bench screw goes through the sliding block, a traditional long bench dog can't be used. A short dog or one of the commercial "pop up" dogs is needed.
I have been well pleased with the results.
Good Luck with your bench.
Can you post of picture of your efforts? I would love to see it, although it is probably too late for me.
I am just finishing the tail vise, and found that shimming could be a second career to get it right. Hope I have it now. I actually had to shim the benchplate at the bottom, to out of square, so that the play in the runners and the associated droop were compensated for under pressure. Didn't take much, but was apoint no mention in the Landis book.
And, if FWW or Mr. Landis or Taunton press is keeping an eye on this thread, while the book is fabulous and I recommend it to anyone thinking of building a bench, the Fortune Nelson vise is illustrated one way, and drawn another, with the measurements very tough to figure.
>>Fortune Nelson vise is illustrated one way, and drawn another,
Not sure what you mean by this. The illustration on page 76 and the drawing on pages 222-223 appear to be the same to me.
I built this bench over ten years ago and it has been just what I wanted.
I'll have to bring in the book to answer as to the details of what I saw, and will try to remember to do so.
On a more important matter, Nice Piece of Work! My compliments.
A question or two if I could. How do you like the under bench storage cabinet? Do you find it gets in the way? I am back and forth on this. I never had one, till I recently built one for my present benc, in anticipation of a different use of it. It will grow shorter, and be mobile, live in the corner most times, and come out for assembly, esp. of pieces where I really need the extra 6". As I use it still as a bench, I find the cabinet a bit limiting. Can't use my large holdfast, for example. Hit my knuckes when I clmpt ot he edge. Etc. Maybe these are just design issues. Don't know yet. If I do build one, I like the drop down drawer shown on the woodcraft one, but haven't seen it in person, or seen a sketch of how it works. Do you have any information?
How did you secure the top to the base, if at all. Just dowels, lags? Bolts with captured nuts?
Can you post a bit of detail on the device on the leg for holding long stock?
As I say, nice work.
I have had no real problem with the under bench storage. Very occasionally, a wide board on edge along the front of the bench blocks access but it's only happened a couple of times in over ten years. The design is based on something I customized from a Woodsmith article years ago. I had to leave space to accommodate the lower portion of the bench dogs but I've had no other interferences. The door on the left slides back into the compartment so it does not get in the way.
I am not familiar with the Woodcraft bench so I can't comment on the drawer.
The top is held on by a single lag bolt up through the top cross piece of the leg stand assembly. I move the bench around by lifting on the top and I have never had to tighten the lag bolts.
What you see on the leg are front side dogs that mount in the front bench dog holes to hold a large panel on the front of the bench. Take a look at the photos and see what I mean. There is also a photo of some dog holes that work with the front vise.
Side dogs. What a great idea. Mind if I flatter you by copying? Do they also mount in the leg, or are they just stored there, as in the first set of photos?
I notice a bit of wear on that bench of yours. Mine of 20 years is quite marked, from a vairiety of things. Hope I will do so to the new one as well.
Sure, copy away. I copied them from someone years ago. Yes, they are just stored on the legs. I drilled a hole in the legs to match the diameter of the dowel in dog.
There has been discussion of shims and the tail vise. Let me just say from experience, the action of the tail vise will change from season to season. I need to tighten or loosen the nuts that hold the upper and lower slide plate as the wood in the tail vice expands and contracts.
I meant to mention that the bench is about ready for its periodic maintenence. I will be wiping it down with mineral spirits using 2/0 steel wool. This gets off most of the old gunk. Then a little time with a cabinet scraper. Finally I apply another coat of an oil/vanish finish using 4/0 steel wool then wiped dry. Two days later I apply a coat of furniture paste wax. It comes out so nice I don't want to use it for a while.
I flattened it once about two years after I built it and it has stayed flat since.
I am getting ready to build a bench and would like to use a tail vice on one end. I see that you had some trouble with the shims. I was thinkink of using aluminum blocks to fasten the top and bottom plates to so that shims would not be necessary and then cover this with wood. Wood mmovement would not be a problem either. What do you think?
I'm not sure that I am the best person to respond since I am such a new tail viser. It seems to me that the stout maple endgrain at the working end of the vise is a big advantage. When used with dogs in the usual fashion, I would not think it would matter a lot, but when you are using the front end, it might. As Howie says, the vise moves season to season, or at least the writers say it does, so small adjustments will be needed. Were it of all auminum, but for the very top, perhaps it would be more stable. I'm not sure I would like it as well. I am surprised at the extreme force it will generate. Mostly, used properly, not much tension is needed. I was just goofing around crushing some wood with my new toy. Got to stop that before I damage it. I didn't even come close to maxing it, and a piece of 1/2 x 3/4 pine became 1/4 x 3/4 in a heartbeat. Seems like more pressure than my heavy steel front vise.
It looks like to me the Loeffelholz vice is similar to the one by David Powell on page 131 of Landis' Workbench book ( 2nd printing). It looks like it does the same thing as a tail vice but would only hold work with bench dogs. It is an interesting vice.
I was thinking about how you glued up your top. I am also worried about getting a twist in it. I was thinking of cutting some 10" strips of plywood and nailing them together like a box (about the same size as the bench top - 30" x 84") with partitions. I am hoping this gives me a surface that is close to being flat if I shim it on the floor. I would them place some 1 1/2' X 1 1/2" strips across the 30" space. The maple boards will go on top of the strips and I should be able to get clamps on top and below. Any suggestions?
I'm working on a bench now; just about done. Top is 19 1/2 (solid), + 6 7/8" for a tool tray (which includes a 1 1/2" rear rail), with this dimension dictated by the width of a Starrett combination square. I used 12/4 maple. Got a plank 10 1/2" wide, but because of the pith being near the center, I cut it out, and hence have boards about 5" wide. Glued them up, they were quite straight, and then finished them in the planer (20"). It finished at 2 3/4". Quite flat. I think they'll stay that way. We'll see.
Decided to use other than a yellow glue. Finally decided on Unibond 800, which is a veneer glue sold by Vacupress. Had much left over. Longer open time, and a brittle glue line, which I thought would clean up easier, and it was no problem.
Going with 4/4 sounds like a bear. Good luck.
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