It’s funny that no matter how many hurdles I’ve tackled so far in building this bench, I still find myself “paralyzed” with fear when I come fact to face with a big new task….even if it’s a task that I’ve already accomplished in the build.
My next major task for the workbench was to flatten the top. This shouldn’t be too hard. For one thing, the boards were fairly close to lined up when the top was glued up. I purposely didn’t spend time jointing every one of them then, because I knew I’d have to flatten it eventually at the end. Secondly, I had just flattened the bottom of the bench top.
It made no sense for me to be worried about it….but when the time came to get started on it, I froze; at least, subconsciously. I started coming up with excuses: I’m too sore from putting in a lot of shop time this weekend. I need to wait for my son to have time to help me flip the bench. I don’t want to flatten it during the week because it’ll wear me out before I have to go to the gym. You name it, I was trying to find a reason to put it off.
This morning before work and after mulling over it for a bit, it finally hit me. I was staring at this elephant. So worried about it’s size, that I was too afraid to take the first bite. So, I very carefully managed to flip the bench back upright onto it’s legs. This was no small task for a bench of this weight; especially considering that, as I mentioned, I did it CAREFULLY and slowly to prevent any damage to the bench.
Then, I grabbed my straight edge (3/4” aluminum angle iron) and marked the high spots across the width for the first 4” – 6” of the length of the top. Next, I grabbed my “scrub” plane (a cheap, modern Stanley #5 with a HEAVILY cambered iron) and got to work. Take a few swipes, check with the straight edge, lather, rinse, repeat.
Within a just a minute or two, I was ready to reach for my LV LA jack (set to take a fine shaving) and was easily planing full-width shavings across that section. Slapped the straight edge down and it confirmed a nice flat 6” of bench top across the entire width.
I don’t know why, but it seems like one of the first skill we all master as woodworkers is the ability to over think simple things. If we’re not trying to come up with some Rube Goldberg-esque jig to handle a simple task, we’re worrying too much about getting in there in the first place. Granted, I’ve only been working wood for a little over a year, but the more I’m exposed to, the more it seems that I’m not alone in this bad habit.
Anyway, I decided then and there, that regardless of what my schedule calls for, I’m going to flatten the top over the next few days. Even if I only manage to get 30 minutes of shop time each night, I’m going to flatten about 6” of real estate at a time. If I can get halfway across in one night or only manage one 6” section, I’m going to take the progress and be happy with it.
Oh, by the way, I was so excited about my new “epiphany”, that I got motivated and knocked out two other small tasks: I got the mortise chopped out in the vise chop for the parallel guide and I got the holes drilled in the parallel guide, as well as getting the decorative curvatures shaped into the end of the guide. I don’t have my camera with me now, but I’ll try to get some pics uploaded at lunch time today.