I spent the evening cleaning up and rearranging my shop the night that I got the top flattened and the leg vise installed. For the first time since I moved into this shop, it actually feels and looks like a work shop. Everything is actually in the proper place, as opposed to being thrown randomly some where in the hectic scramble to get our house remodeled so that we could move in last year.
After getting everything cleaned up and organized, I started working on some of the remaining accessories for my new bench. It’s so awesome to have the bench available to finish building itself. All of the tasks are so much easier with this bench compared to my old one.
The first thing I did was to put the planing stop (2”x2-1/2”x12” of red oak) down on the bench top to trace out its profile. I made sure it was square by lining it up with a try square against the front edge of the bench top. After it was traced out, I used my largest mortise chisel (3/4”) to chop out about 1/4” of the mortise. Then, I used my brace and 3/4” auger bit to drill out the bulk of the rest of the waste and cleaned up the walls with a pairing chisel.
It was a REALLY tight fit at first; requiring way too much effort. I figured it would be easier (and much safer) to reduce the size of the planing stop than to widen the mortise. Chiseling out the mortise could be dangerous; whereas hand planing a few fine shavings off the planing stop itself was absolutely safe. I could easily adjust the fit by a thou at a time. I planed a little off, hammered it back in to test, planed a little more off, etc about 3 or 4 times before I got the fit that I was after.
Before chopping through the bottom of the bench top, I crouched down under it and chop out about 1/8” depth of the mortise on the opposite side to prevent any blowout. Obviously, this would have been much easier if I would have made this mortise before attaching the base and the top, but it wasn’t anything too difficult.
I also glued a piece of vegetable-tanned leather to the top 6” or so of the leg vise chop. I didn’t have any wax paper to put between the vise chop and the bench top. I did, however, have a large scrap of 1/4” luan plywood and some 4” painters tape. So, I covered the luan with tape, grabbed my Titebond glue, and clamped it all up.
Here’s a pic of the leather clamped up in the vise. You can also see the installed planing stop here.
When I made the bench top, I cut about 4-1/4” from each side of a 2×12. This gave me fairly stable lumber for the top and left the pith portion of scrap to be used for “utility” stuff. One such use was the 1” x 1” cleat that I installed inside the stretchers for the shelf. I glued the cleats in place, then drilled pilot holes, and nailed them in place with small brads.
I crosscut, ripped, and resawed some scraps from the original lumber that was cut to build the bench so that I could have the shelf pieces themselves. The boards were 1-1/2” and fairly straight. So, I was able to resaw and plane them down to about 5/8” thick. To join them, I used my bullnose rabbet plane to cut rabbets to make shiplapped joints.
I’m cutting a 1/8” chamfer into the mating edges where the shelf boards join. So far, I’ve only gotten two of the board installed so far. In his book, Chris recommends nailing each shelf board down with single brad in the middle of each side. I like the idea of being able to easily remove the shelf boards to clean up under the bench, etc.
Here’s a picture of the first two shelf boards installed:
I also got the locations for the dog holes marked out across the front of the bench top; about 2-1/4” from the front edge. I would have liked to have it about 1/2” or so closer to the front edge, but I had to put them where I did to make sure they weren’t too close to the sliding deadman trench below the bench top.
Here’s a pic of the bench in its new home:
I also made a proper “pin” for my leg vise chop. You can see it in the pic above. I bought some 3/8” steel rod and 1” hardwood dowel. I shaped the ends of the dowel a bit with chisels and rasps, then drilled a 3/8” diameter hole about 1-1/2” deep into one side. I used a hacksaw to cut about 6” off the steel rod and polished it up with some sandpaper (320, 400, and finally 600 grit). Then, glued the rod into the dowel with polyurethane glue. It works great and saves me from using my burnisher. :)
You can see one of the scrap boards on top marked to be crosscut and resawn to make two more shelf boards. You can also see that I was able to get the entire “working area” of the shop floor covered with anti-fatigue mats. With my old bench, I put them down around the bench but never bothered to move it to put them under it. This was a huge pain when it was time to sweep up the shop.
By the way, I haven’t used these mats long enough to be able to say how much they help your back / feet, but I can’t say enough about how much I love the protection they give my tools. A chisel got accidentally knocked off of the bench and it barely made a sound when it landed softly on the cushioned mat below.