I have been needing a proper workbench for a while. The top of my table saw and fold up extension have been the only spot to use. I would love to have a large proper workbench but my shop is just too small for a full size bench. I have been looking at benches in Lumberjocks and marking some for reference. shipwright had come up with some excellent ideas. His concept for the Short Block V8 is a low cost way for a beginner to get a strong, stable small workbench using tools that many beginners have. I have a tool set that can no longer be called beginner… I started thinking how I would make the bench with a tablesaw, Dado set, Crosscut sled and all the tools I have at my disposal. I also wanted to use Baltic Birch plywood instead of shop grade domestic plywood. I have looked into the Benchcrafted Bench vice parts… and I would like to have the required funds to be able to use them but, a wedge vice is more in my price range.
I am not an expert in SketchUp but have done other computer drafting before (Patent drafting using CorelDraw). I made a copy of shipwright’s Short Block V8 drawing and started to work. The first thing I added was 3” to the height. I am 6’3+” and a work surface that is too short is a literal pain in the neck (and back). Also I like a Roubo style bench where the front side (the side that has the leg vice) has both legs even with the top. This will allow me to make a sliding deadman to support long workpieces and do all the neat stuff you can do with a sliding deadman.
I also am stealing some design concepts from this Benchcrafted Roubo workbench plan On the top I was looking to make my dog holes square for the tail vice and have the top split into 2 12” solid tops with a 1.5” gap stop. Also I think I can fit a 54” long top into my shop without too much trouble (famous last words).
Making some legs.
So… In Sketchup I started by modifying the leg parts longer and deleting the parts I did not need. Then I placed them on a 5’x5’ sheet to see where the cutlines should be. I was able to cut out all the parts for both legs out of 1) 18mm x 5’ x 5’ sheet of Baltic Birch.
I (we, my son-in-law Andrew has helped a lot on this project) ripped the Baltic Bitch to 3.5”… and then cut lengths on my crosscut sled based on the cut sheet. Using the mating parts as templates I Laminated the legs together using glue and nails. None of the crossing parts were glued until the next step. In order to accelerate the assembly process I used 18 ga. 1 1/4” pin gun nails to hold the parts together while the glue set.
After getting the uprights and top and bottom assembled I then sanded all the inside (and outside) surfaces. It is a lot easer before final assembly while the sections are still flat.
After the glue has set but before it had completely cured I ran all the flat sides over my jointer, then sanded with 120 grit and ran a 1/8” round over on all the exposed sides.
It was then time to join the sets. We had been testing the fit as work progressed so there was no issue with the assemblies fitting but there a lot of surfaces to apply glue to. As shipbuilt said about this part, you can’t escape, it is messy. We tried to keep the glue run off under control but as we clamped more came out. I did not use nails for this as the overlapping parts with glue should be bullet proof. We clamped in all three directions.
A final pass over the jointer, sanding and handwork and the legs are ready for a top and stretchers.
I am working on the top sections now and will post a blog when I get it further along.
Thanks for looking,
-- Brian Brown, Eugene, OR