Hand tool workbench #3: Aprons and Bottom of Top

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Blog entry by Vance100 posted 08-02-2013 02:53 AM 1456 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Bench Top Glue-up Part 3 of Hand tool workbench series Part 4: Legs »

I flattened the bottom of the top last night and started the aprons. I was a little apprehensive about flattening the underside of the top; I never flattened anything that size before. I did plane a small piece of walnut for a saw handle but I wouldn’t call that anything more than moving the plane across a scrap.

Someone mentioned that using the #4 only might have been a little ambitious, so I decided to use a #5 Stanley, I picked up off the auction site for $30. After all I’m just starting out. I’ve had no training and have learned how to flatten from online videos and books. I read a book called—Made by Hand—by Tom Fidgen and it really intrigued my current passion for hand tools. It still took about four years for me to start using hand planes. I always figured I had to buy expensive tools or I would be very frustrated with how the used ones worked. I bought a small block plane off the auction site and sure enough I could’t sharpen the blade to get it to work. I gave up on the idea of using hand tools and bought power tools. I thought I would never be skilled enough to sharpen a blade so hand tools were out. It wasn’t until I saw Paul Sellers on the internet and he explained his methods and proclaimed you didn’t need expensive tools to work wood by hand. His video on sharpening really clicked with me so I put away the water stones and honing jigs and bought diamond stones and a strop. I used the freehand convex bevel method on my old block plane blade and got thin shavings. I couldn’t believe it; I finally felt like I could do it. Now, back to the bench.

I got the underside flat. I really don’t know how flat it needs to be. It is within five or six thousands.

I then checked for wind with a couple of straight edges I got from the blue big box store. There was no wind so I felt lucky. I then checked the length for flatness and sure enough I had a banana.

I used my #18 Millers Falls and took off the high spots. It is relatively flat now. This entire process took about three hours but I learned a lot. The aprons are next.

I used the method of drawing a line along the top and side to saw the boards square.

The aprons will be 10.5” wide, using three 2×4’s. After my experience with the top, I set my plane for a finer shaving and didn’t take off to much off the edges.

I noticed gaps when I placed the boards together but was able to push them together with hand pressure.

This means glue will hold it together.

I did my dry run, the zig-zag and clamped up the apron. I only have enough clamps to glue one tonight, I’ll do the next tomorrow. I’ll then be ready to start the legs. Thanks for reading.


6 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


10081 posts in 1313 days

#1 posted 08-02-2013 03:39 AM

Vance, great progress Man! Congrats on your new set of hand tool skills!

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

View sgmdwk's profile


259 posts in 568 days

#2 posted 08-02-2013 03:41 AM

Great work. I think peeling off a long shaving with a sharp plane might be the most immediately pleasurable act in woodworking.

-- Dave K.

View PurpLev's profile


8476 posts in 2343 days

#3 posted 08-02-2013 03:49 AM

looking good! keep it up

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

View BigRedKnothead's profile


5366 posts in 677 days

#4 posted 08-04-2013 12:56 AM

Great job Vance. Your journey with hand tools sounds familiar. That darn obstacle of sharpening gets most of us. But once you get it….Eureka!

-- Red -- "That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." W. Whitman

View JayT's profile (online now)


2434 posts in 906 days

#5 posted 08-04-2013 01:16 AM

Doing great, Vance. Fully understand where you are coming from on hand tools. Paul Sellers has done a lot to demystify hand tool woodworking and you won’t go wrong using his methods.

You also now definitely qualify as a real woodworker. That happens the first time you realize you never have enough clamps. :-)

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

View Buckethead's profile


1932 posts in 564 days

#6 posted 08-04-2013 01:25 AM

What a fun day of discovery! Time and energy well spent. Well done Vance!

-- Bucket, any person that spends 10k on a bicycle is guaranteed to be a $@I almost started to like you. -bhog

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