LumberJocks

New Shop in the Raw #8: Making a Functional Workbench

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by builtinbkyn posted 01-18-2016 06:33 PM 2379 reads 8 times favorited 41 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Unisaw Outfeed Table Part 8 of New Shop in the Raw series Part 9: Hand Tool Storage/Sharpening Station »

One of my goals in renting the space for a shop is to build all of my shop fixtures in anticipation of moving them to my own permanent shop in a future home where I’ll have the dedicated space for one. I cannot make a move now as my folks are elderly and in need assistance at this point. However, renting the space for this shop has offered me some time away from the stresses that unfortunately accompany the aforementioned. I come here and tune out other issues until I return home. Really, without this as a diversion, I’d go stir crazy as I’m no longer taking on outside work. It was just too difficult to commit to contract work and worry about the issues my folks are dealing with at this stage of their lives.

Today I started on building a bench that will enable me to utilize hand tools more. I would like to build a nice hardwood bench like the many that have been shared here on LJs, but right now I need something heavy, stable, large enough for assembly as well as having work holding ability for milling by hand and one I can knock out in relatively short order.

So this morning I picked up some Burrill kiln dried, white fir 2×4s to get started. I’ll use the 4×4 cedar cuts I had left over from a yard project two summers ago, for the base. The same 4×4s I used to lift the Unisaw. Before starting, I discovered that I can only rip stock that is around 7’6” where the Unisaw is placed in relation to the miter station. That’s pretty much what it would be no matter where the Unisaw is placed in the shop as the maximum dimension across the shop is 20’. That is fine as the bench will be 84”. This just caused one more step in stock prep. After shortening the boards to 7’6” I milled them to a little over 3” in width. I’m going to try an maintain a top thickness of between 2.75” and 3”after planing. I was going to build a Nicholson bench, but now I’m thinking of some kind of hybrid. I guess I’ll let the progress of the project dictate what it will eventually become.

I hope to have all the boards jointed, thickness planed and glued by the end of the day. We’ll see how that goes :)

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)



41 comments so far

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#1 posted 01-18-2016 08:52 PM

One face and one edge jointed. (16 boards) Except for one or two stubborn boards, they look pretty good. Hopefully the planer will deal with them.

I plan on doing the glue-up in two steps for a split-top, but it may not remain as a split-top. I’ll glue four boards up and then glue them together in pairs to make two 8 board panels of about 11” each.

Man I’m kid of tired LOL Hope I can at least get the 4 board gluing done today. Ah, maybe not enough clamps for that :(

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#2 posted 01-18-2016 10:54 PM

I got all the boards, well most of them, ready for gluing tomorrow. A few were not behaving well but will work. One decided to develop a pretty good check so it’s in the scrap pile for another project.

Finally made some sawdust :) 95% is from today.

That HF collector isn’t doing all that bad. What’s in the bag would be on the floor. The shop remained mostly dust free from the jointing/planing operations. Maybe I need to work on some kind of overhead dust collection for the table saw after I’m done with the bench. That created the most dust today.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#3 posted 01-19-2016 10:46 PM

Well I’ve settled on doing some kind of split-top version for this bench. Being it’s made from fir vs hardwood, it won’t be my forever bench, but I think it will serve me well for the intended purpose of giving me a solid, heavy work surface. I have 50 bucks invested in it so not all that bad.

I milled the lengths down to near where it will end up when finished (approx. 22”x82” finished dim.), and then started gluing. Still not enough clamps, so I have to do this in batches.

I had a piece of black walnut remaining from a fish tank stand I made about 5 years ago. I was able to get just enough from it for the center stop/chisel holder to fill the split.

I intend to make one of PaulM’s (shipwright) wagon vises – maybe two as he has on his bench. They’ll go on the right hand side of the bench. I have an Eclipse quick release vice that I may install as a front vise, or I may just make a leg vise. Right now I’m flying by the seat of my pants, but I’m having fun :)

Just a few pics of what’s happening.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#4 posted 01-21-2016 07:58 PM

Finally able to get back to the shop today. Last time here I was able to get both bench slabs glued up. Today was unclamping and clean-up. They’re both nice and true. I should be able to maintain 2 3/4” thickness after a final pass thru the planer.

I’m starting on the wagon vise that shipwright has posted here. I’m using up the remainder of walnut I have on hand and some maple that was left over from the miter saw station build. I have to adapt the dimensions to my bench, but I think it will all work out – well at least I hope so. Not vacating the space for it in the slab top until I can give it a dry run after assembly.

A few pics of the progress so far today.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#5 posted 01-22-2016 12:20 AM

Had a lot of distractions today, so didn’t get as much done as I should have. I milled everything to thickness and sized then glued up the blanks for final dimensioning for the wagon vise. I had to work out some dimensions as per my bench specs, but I think it will work just fine.

I hate watching glue dry but I love removing dried glue with that Kunz scraper I picked up from Highland WW. It’s my new favorite tool.

All the pieces cut, jointed, planed and glued up for milling when ever I can get back there to do it.

I’m looking forward to having a place to work on other than the table saw top :)

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#6 posted 01-23-2016 01:23 AM

I have to say, making the wagon vice has been a lot of fun. Though the vise isn’t finished, I had the opportunity to use a lot of shop toys during the build. Having the right tool for the job has always been my belief, so the recent purchases I’ve made are starting to show their relevance.

I think I have the harder parts of the process done and pretty decently at that. Today I had a little band saw action going on. It was the first time using the Grizzly 555 I purchased off of Craigslist. There was plenty of jointing and planing and some fun hand tool use as well. The band saw is the most unfamiliar to me. I’ve used one on a few occasions, but it was for rough cutting stock to a general shape. The tolerances for the wagon vise seemed to require mostly finished cuts with some hand tool cleanup. I think I did fairly well. Oh but there was a mishap of sorts. I was making a cut on one of the side rails when “BANG”! The blade slipped off of the tires. Not sure why. I hadn’t made any adjustments to the saw after purchasing it. The prior owner had it set up and well I just went with it. In order to complete the cuts I had to figure out how to reinstall the blade and adjust things so I could proceed. This was all new to me. What ever I did seems to be fine for now and it got me thru to where I needed. I won’t have any need for using it to complete the vise, so I’ll look at it again when I finish up the bench.

Lot’s of pics of today’s work:


Scribing the profile of the stop block.

First cuts on the band saw came out pretty well.


Cleaning up the stop block.

No daylight :)


Lining up the stop block for the bevel cut that will form a wedge.


Marking centers for bench dog holes.

Used the Shop Fox mortiser to drill the 3/4” holes.


Transfering the stop block profile to the rails.

A little cleanup.

It all goes together :)

There’s still a little more work to be done on the vise, but this has been a fun build so far. I feel as if it’s turning out how I would like. Getting to use some of the tools on this project, that I purchased in anticipation of the eventual direction I’d like to go, has been a bonus. I still have work to do to finish up the vise and then more to complete the bench, but I feel like there’s some progress in my goals.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#7 posted 01-24-2016 11:37 PM

Last night we got over 25” of snow in NYC, so that kept me out of the shop – well that and playoff football. So no progress on the build, but it did give me time to make some design plans for the structure of the bench. It will be a little different than what I anticipated and probably what has been done before. The bench needs to have the ability to be knocked down, so the joinery will reflect that. Hope I’m up to the task :)

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#8 posted 01-26-2016 04:58 AM

I think this is the plan moving forward.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#9 posted 01-26-2016 08:25 PM

Finally able to get back to the shop today. No issues getting thru the snow, just issues parking so I allowed a few days for things to get a little cleared up. Having a pickup in the city is a pain when trying to find parking except when there’s mountains of snow. Then I can park where most others can’t :)

OK after working on my bench design and choosing to use what ever lumber I have on hand, it was time to make some choices on how to proceed. It was pretty clear that the cedar 4×4s needed to be resawn as they’re full of splits and checks. That necessitated installing the riser block I purchased for the GO555. The only reason for that is the saw I picked up off of CL only had a 1/8” blade. In anticipation of adding the riser block I bought a 105” x 3/4” Timber Wolf 3tpi blade. This should be perfect for breaking down the cedar for jointing and planing.

The conversion took all of 1/2 hour to complete. After watching the Alex Snodgrass video again, I made some adjustments and feel I’m ready to proceed. I’ve already made some test cuts and the blade cuts the cedar cleanly and true. I think I have the adjustments where they need to be. Some pics below.

Trimmed up the cedar to give me some clean ends.

I had cut this mahogany to size as stiles and rails for some doors for my desk. That was 3 years ago. Finally made the doors this past summer, but made a design change so these will be used for the rails supporting the bench top. All of the lumber should be stable by now since it’s been sitting for quite some time and now in my shop for the past few months.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#10 posted 01-26-2016 10:16 PM

I guess I now know what machine makes the most dust in a shop. I’ll have to look into dust collection strategies for a bandsaw.

It’s all cut up and ready for sizing. Two of the pieces had some pretty severe tension in them. I had to back out and cut from the other side to complete the cut. I also found out I can do much better without the aid of the fence than with it. I just followed the lead kerf of the teeth with my eye and was able to make much better cuts than with the fence. I just used the fence to support my left hand as I guided the cut. The fence seemed like more of a crutch and my cutting got lazy. The blade would start to wander a bit. Having to make the line myself, seemed to work much better.

Tomorrow I’ll figure out what I have to work with, which pieces will make up the legs and which will become the bottom rails. Thought I’d get more done than I did, but the time it took to make the change-over on the BS and re-sawing all those pieces, took away from building time. Tomorrow is another day.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#11 posted 01-28-2016 05:33 AM

This is what I want to end up with by Sunday afternoon. It has a little bit of everything – dovetails, through and non-through M&T, draw pins and wedges. I needed to challenge myself a little as I’ve never done some of this before. So I hope I’m up to the task.

Today I finished dimensioning the lumber for the legs and bottom rails and have everything glued up for mortising and tenoning tomorrow. I’d like to pre-finish the components before assembly as the cedar legs and rails will get a pickled finish and then clear coated. I don’t think any other type of finish would take very well to the cedar, it being such a soft wood. All the other components will get a wipe on oil finish.

I purchased the Eclipse quick release vise two months ago anticipating building a bench of some sort. It will serve the purpose well on this bench. When I make my dream bench, well then maybe I’ll look to do something different.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#12 posted 01-29-2016 11:20 PM

Today I finally managed to make the first mortises in the bench legs. They’re not all completely cleaned out after using the mortiser, but it’s a start. I’m abandoning the thru mortises between the bottom rails and the legs. The legs are 3 5/8” in the direction of the mortise and the mortiser is only good for 2 7/8”. I’m not sure I’m up to the task of finishing them all the way thru. I guess I could use a router with a bearing bit to plunge thru on the opposite side and then clean it up manually, but I’m not sure the effort is worth it. I probably should have just left a double mortise since I’m not going with a thru mortise. Ah well to late now.

This bench is a stop gap to a hardwood bench. It’s being made from leftover scraps from various other projects from the past. I just need something to work on until that happens. This is practice for that.

Some of the progress, which isn’t much.

And the only mortise I’ve cleaned up so far :( I think I prefer chiseling hardwoods vs such a soft and fibrous wood. It absorbs the blows and the wood doesn’t get pared as cleanly as in hardwood.

But I feel now that I have the mortising machine issues settled, I can move along a bit faster and more efficiently.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#13 posted 01-30-2016 11:58 PM

Moving right along …................ slowly. Finished cleaning out the mortises and cut the tenons on the rails. They’ll both need a bit of tweaking, but I think the fit will be nice and snug. I’ll undercut the shoulders a bit on the tenons so they get pulled in flush.

Willie was bored today. I think he wanted to be home with his mother instead of hanging with me. I don’t think he’s a fan of the shop.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#14 posted 01-31-2016 11:21 PM

Today was time to work on the mortise and tenons to get them to fit snuggly. I also took some time to do a little shop cleanup. When things get disorganized, I get distracted and working on a project is no longer fun. It’s frustrating at that point. So little woodworking got done in the couple of hours spent there. However before leaving I mixed up some whitewash which consisted of water based Zinsser primer and water – 1 part primer to approximately 4 parts water. This is the pickling finish I’ll be applying to the legs and rails. I really like the way the sample turned out and I think it will look even better once clear-coated.

Next up is cutting the thru mortises for the stretchers and the slot mortises on the tops of the legs. I also think I’m going to put a healthy chamfer on the corners of the legs and rails to help protect them from being damaged and maybe add a few other details to make things interesting.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

651 posts in 404 days


#15 posted 02-02-2016 02:45 AM

Not a lot of time spent in the shop today and not all of that was working on the bench. Some of the time was spent making a jig to support the legs so I could cut the slot mortises in the tops of the legs on the table saw.

The slot mortises need to have the saw marks removed from their bottoms. I’m thinking I should use either a paring chisel or a decent rasp, neither of which I own. The other option is using a router with a bearing bit. Any suggestions?

Some pics:

One reason for the short shop time was to visit my Dad and the other was to give my boy Willie a run on the beach. :)

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn :)

showing 1 through 15 of 41 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com