My workbench does not have a traditional laminated top. Rather than gluing the main planks on their faces, I opted to glue them on their edges mainly because I didn’t have enough lumber and didn’t want to go purchase more. Otherwise, I’d highly recommend gluing the faces to give you a nice thick bench.
First I ripped the boards into six pieces each between 3 1/2” and 4” wide. The total width of the six boards were just over 22”.
I arranged the boards so that the wood grains would alternate. This would keep the bench from wanting to bow, or at least minimize it. If the picture isn’t clear, there’s also a crude drawing of the patterns.
Before gluing them, I cut a bunch of 5/8” dowels just under 3” long. Then I rounded the corners on the benchtop belt sander. Worked like a charm!
The dowels will help reinforce the glue joints and even help with alignment. I’ve glued together enough cutting boards to know that it’s hard to keep those boards aligned when gluing. When making the layout for the dowel holes I always measure from the same face of the board and from the same end so that the holes line up nicely. Drilling the holes in the boards with a 5/8 forstner bit.
Adding the dowels. I basically hammered in the dowels half way in one board, then lined it up with the next board and used my dead blow to get the dowels in halfway in the second board. After the dowels were in at least a 1/2” or so on either side, I closed them up tightly with a number of pipe clamps.
I only added on piece at a time so that I can make sure they matted well—I didn’t want to have any gaps between the boards. It all went together nicely. Here’s part of the top being glued together.
This process really tested the limits of my pipe clamps. I actually broke the cast iron of one of the Harbor Freight clamps—I’ll be returning it since it’s supposed to have a lifetime warranty. :-)
In the next post I’ll address how I added a some thickness to this top and how I attached the end caps.
-- "hold fast to that which is good"