Workbench Build #12: First real issue.. Suggestions needed

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Blog entry by Airframer posted 546 days ago 2018 reads 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: Wagon Vise Hardware..Mostly Done.. Part 12 of Workbench Build series Part 13: Moxon In Work... The vise to help build the bench. »

I finally got fed up with tripping over things and wading through a sea of saw dust last night. That was all it took to finally clean up the mess made by the ripping process and reset to start on the base.

After sweeping up and re-stacking

Still need to clean off the wall benches though!

As I was re-stacking the lumber I noticed some issues with the 4X6 fir posts I had bought for the legs. I went with those because

A) They were inexpensive and easily acquired at Home Depot.

B) They were a nice heavy size and should be easy to use with little dimensioning involved and no glue ups to do.

I guess I was careless at the store and failed to inspect the wood close enough after they cut them to a rough size for me (so they would fit in my car). Last night as I was moving them around I noticed a rather large cavity going up the center of one of the legs. It extends almost the full length and has started to blow out the top face of the leg. As far as I can tell this chunk of wood is worthless as a leg unless you guys know of some kind of wizardry to fix it.

After noticing that I had a closer look at the other legs and none of them are very clear at all. All of them have hairline cracks, sap runs and knots or all three at once.

Now I have to rethink my base. I guess I could use these to make a couple saw horses and hunt down some better wood.

Any Ideas?

Pics of the culprits..

I have decided to spend the night sharpening my planes while I think on this.

Also I have a couple other questions..

Is there a minimum thickness for the skirt? My top will be around 2 5/8” thick once planed flat. Everything I have read about the end cap and skirt they always seem to be closer to 4” thick. Is that just a looks thing or is there a structural need for that?

Why is there usually only an end cap on one end of the bench and not both?

When laminating the top do I need to make sure all the grain is the same direction? I would think opposing grain stackup would be more stable I just worry about the planing process.

I think that’s about all I have for now.. I am sure there will be more questions soon lol.

-- Eric -

11 comments so far

View GlennsGrandson's profile


432 posts in 935 days

#1 posted 546 days ago

I can’t help you with the skirt questions as mine doesn’t have one.
Click for details
I would get some different lumber for your legs/base…That stuff looks kind of shoddy and unstable, sorry to hear about it. Use it like you said and make some saw horses or something.

Alternate the end grain like so ()()()(), not )))))). That way if it has a tendency to cup it will hopefully help to offset, although with that much lumber and glue I wouldn’t foresee any problems. Although I cared less about end grain orientation and more so about which side of the board was showing on the top and how the adjacent pieces fit together dry.

Best wishes

-- Grant - S/N Dakota

View Airframer's profile


2387 posts in 578 days

#2 posted 546 days ago

That bench is AWESOME! OK, now I am less concerned with the skirt/end cap size and now just need to figure out what to build the base out of now. I would like to keep it from the available stuff at HD since it is right there and it won’t cost too much (I have already spent more on this than I had originally planned to).

Anyone know wtf kind of tree “Common Whitewood” comes from?

-- Eric -

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


9761 posts in 1244 days

#3 posted 546 days ago

Okay, I’ll (respectfully) endorse what you have as being fine for the legs. Pick the best two for the fronts, and move on. I see lumber that has all the integrity needed for bench legs… Clean it up with a smoother and go!

More input (but do what you want!!!)

Aprons needed? Zero. Endcaps? Only considered with a wagon vice.

Thickness of top? Just under 3” is what I have, with no issue. 6’ long, 24” deep.

Click for details!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


9761 posts in 1244 days

#4 posted 546 days ago

And Grant has a bench that ROCKS, btw…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View tsangell's profile


209 posts in 1318 days

#5 posted 546 days ago

Agree w/ Smitty. If you need to repair a crack or a split you can fill it with epoxy or patch it w/ wood (dutchman or butterfly, for example.)

View Airframer's profile


2387 posts in 578 days

#6 posted 546 days ago

Thanks for the help guys. The only problem I have with using these is that 3 of the 4 of them are usable but the one pictured with the hole/crack is a void that runs almost the entire length of the leg and neither end is suitable for use as a tenon filled with epoxy or not.

I think what I am going to do is pick up 1 more of these and replace this leg. Thanks for the boost of confidence. I was feeling slightly kicked in the nuts when I found that guy lol.

-- Eric -

View GlennsGrandson's profile


432 posts in 935 days

#7 posted 546 days ago

Smitty, these guys are also correct, if you want you could fill the voids or pick your best faces and use them for the front. I definitely considered all 4 faces of each leg and decided which side that I wanted to show off. Personally I wouldn’t want to fuss with filling them and just get pick out some new ones. Not that any of us are made of money but the common “whitewood” (which I have no idea which tree it comes from) isn’t to terrible in price and to reiterate what you said you can use the “bad” ones for other things.

I have had good results with JB Weld Wood Epoxy from Menards. It is a 2:1 mix ratio and it is super penetrating. So that is good and bad, you know that it will get a great bond but if you think that there is even the slightest chance if it finding it’s way out on the other side (i.e. knots, hairline cracks) just do yourself a favor and throw some masking tape over it. Another con is that it really does take 24 hours to set and be able to sand. Also, it is so penetrating that even if you overfill a void when you come back the next day the surface of the epoxy will probably be lower than the surface of the wood (concave rather than convex) and will require another touch up. I’ve never had to do more than two applications. It dries crystal clear and sands (with some effort) well. I should probably do a review on this stuff because I have never been able to find any other reviews on this product, it might be fairly new..

Let us know what you decide!

-- Grant - S/N Dakota

View Luke's profile


236 posts in 1312 days

#8 posted 546 days ago

ever thought of laminating two 2×4’s instead? The Home center around me has junk 2×4 but I was able to get a few 2×12’s that were clear of any knots, and used them for my bench top, clean vertical grain.

View PurpLev's profile


8476 posts in 2274 days

#9 posted 546 days ago

depends on what your plans are for this workbench – are you just throwing something together – then simply use what you have, it should hold up fine. you should joint and plane the edges which will crisp them up a tad, but you’ll still have those cracks most likely (depending how deep they go). OR , are you building a heirloom workbench – in which case do it once, and do it right – get some new boards. laminating is a good way to go.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Airframer's profile


2387 posts in 578 days

#10 posted 545 days ago

I think I have a path to go in now. I am probably going to go have a look at some 2Xsomethings at HD and if I don’t see anything there I’ll stop by the yard I got the oak from and see what they have there.

PurpLev, I am hoping to get close to heirloom quality on this (though my skills may have other ideas lol) My wife and I are expecting our first child A SON! insert a Tim the tool man Taylor grunt here and while I have never inherited anything from my parents I would like to be able to hand this down to him eventually. I like your thoughts on that and you are right.. I need to do it right once and that will save me money and headaches in the long run.

-- Eric -

View Natalie 's profile


366 posts in 592 days

#11 posted 545 days ago

I’ll be watching for that review on the JB weld.

-- Natalie - My mind is like a bad neighborhood, I don't like to go there alone.

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