Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bench top bottom

Just a quick update on the progress of my upgraded bench top. Based on the advise of +Shannon Rogers I stopped planing the edges of the tewbafores and just face glued them all together. Planing them as a single piece certainly makes more sense. Thanks again, Shannon.




Before gluing, I took the time to put the best edge of each board up and aligned them so that the grain from each is running up the same hill to make planing easier. This is a tip I remember reading in Schwarz's book on bench building and it stuck with me because that's the type of detail I would have normally learned the hard way.

I cut them each to rough length using a home center saw that I have had for a few years but never really used. It made surprisingly easy work of the cross cuts, which didn't turn out too bad. Much closer to square than I thought I was capable of. The final length will be about 74 inches, which will nestle right in between two support columns in the center of the shop. I'll cut to final length using an edge guide and a circular saw.

After twenty four hours in the clamps I set the glued up slab free and turned it bottom up. And while the bottom may not have to be super flat I am putting in the effort make it mostly flat. I think I have just a couple more rounds of diagonal and cross grain passes.

Another tip from Mr. Schwarz was to use angled aluminum (like angle iron, but well... aluminum) as winding sticks if you are without a better option. When removing the small bit of twist I had a hard time differentiating the edge of the close stick from that of the far, so I put some blue tape on the far one. Could it be that at forty my eye sight is starting to deteriorate? Doubtful.

This effort may not be necessary for the bottom of shop furniture, but that's not the point. I want to do this and I am truly enjoying and learning a lot from the hand work. I've seen a few videos of people working up a sweat and getting short of breath while planing their bench tops. I haven't found it to be all that difficult and I'm not in very good shape. Maybe it's the hardness, or lack thereof, of the wood I am using.


Thanks for reading.
Jim