I had some good progress on the top today. it actually started a couple of days ago when I went ahead, cleaned up the buffer strip, and main top, and glued them up together, I also milled the end cap part (which is on top of the clamps in the photo):
I also ground down one of the corner of the Lee-Valley Tailvise Nut so that I’ll be able to install the vise higher up and the nut will have less interference with the table top:
I’m not a machinist, nor work with metal much (although it would have been nice to be able to make my own hardware), but I think this came out pretty nice.
Today I was able to work on flattening the top, which will help with the next few steps of adding the end-cap, skirt, and vises as I’ll have a better surface to reference to, and also have a top that I can work on.
Since the top is made of different parts, some that could not go through the planer, and others that I chose not to take through the planer – it means there is absolutely no alignment on the top surface. in order to flatten this with my largest hand plane (#5) I’ll need a lot of energy, patience, luck, and good fortune. since I didn’t want to plan that much ahead for the day I might run into all of those at the same time. I chose to take the majority of material with the Tage Frid router sled technique. I attached 2 rails to the sides of my bench. Tage I believe screwed those to the table/bench top, I chose to clamp them to the legs, since the legs are parallel and of the same height – which made for good reference points:
I hand jointed both rails to make them straight so that the sled can ride on them and keep the router at a fixed height above the workbench top.
The way the technique works, is you stretch a string between each 2 crossing ends of the rails, and the strings cross each other in the middle. you use risers to lift one of the strings the height of 1 string so that they should be touching in the middle but not affecting each others (not pushing down/up on each other), once you have your rails positioned like that – it means they are parallel to each other, I picked the idea to clamp the rails to the bench from Moai, I like it better than dealing with screws and holes (Thanks Francisco!):
The router itself is riding on a sled that rides on the long rails. the sled is 3/4” birch ply with 2 jointed 1 1/4” maple strips (pieces from the bowling alley) as stiffeners to keep it flat. I drilled a 1 1/2” slot in the middle using overlapping holes with a hole saw (probably not the best way, but it gave me the result I needed) and waxed the ply so that the router can slide easily on it:
you can see in the photo, right under the sled, that my router electric cable is spliced and taped… on one of the runs (back and forth) the cable decided to crawl under the sled… and the rest was sparks and history… luckily I was able to splice it back up, and the motor didn’t get fried, otherwise that would have been a VERY unfortunate end of things, with only half the bench half routed (1st pass)...
I used a Freud 1 1/4” flat bottom mortise bit, set the router to a low spot on the top, and started sliding it back and forth over and over again from one side of the top to the other, this created ALOT of chips:
this is the amount of chips from 1 pass – I had to go through 3 passes, as I kept on finding a lower spot than I had used as reference in each pass. I probably took off ~1/4” off of the top. not too bad considering that it’s nice and even:
OK, maybe not as even as one would like, but still – pretty close. since the router bit is supposed to be flat bottom – I’m not really sure why I got such a pronounced stripe effect… but a little work with my #4 smoother, and some scraping and this is the end result:
not too shabby for a first time on such a large surface. to that I must say – scraping is quite rewarding as you see the machine marks, and planing marks disappear right before your eyes, but to scrap such a large surface… well, as rewarding as it may be, I kept on telling myself that I’m never building another bench again… lol (self motivation). in order to reduce/eliminate the burning heat in the thumbs while scraping, I held a leather glove between my thumbs and the scraper- never felt a thing. and those shavings are just not from this world.
This is the top after scraping it. Yes – the maple actually shines, with nothing on it – this is bare wood:
I was hoping to get the endcap done today, but planing the top took the entire day, this was a long and labor intensive work. I did however was able to prepare the tenon for the endcap. using a straight edge guide, I routed a 3/4” deep, tenon on the edge of the benchtop:
and later using the same straight edge (positioned elsewhere though) I cut off the excess with a circular saw.
I then marked the mortise on the end cap to match the tenon, removed most material with the drill press and forstner bit (leaving enough extra material to give me support for chisel work later on), and chiseled the square mortise. so far I was only able to make the short mortise for lack of time, but at least things are set to be picked up next time around:
In the last picture, you can see that I’m actually utilizing the workbench already which is fantastic- it works great! I also got some holfasts from Gramecy Tools= (Thanks Chrys!), these are by far the best I’ve ever seen, and I’ll review them shortly – definitely worth it. you can also see my “mallet” – definitely one of my next projects…
quite a day, I’m tired, and you should be too after reading all of this…
Next, the End Cap, and Wagon Vise. followed by the Skirt, and last will be the leg vise… and that should wrap it up… but first… lets get to the next step.
Thanks for reading,
-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.