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Workbench #3: Sorting the wood

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Blog entry by Dan Wolfgang posted 12-12-2016 02:03 AM 1087 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Wood selected Part 3 of Workbench series Part 4: I cheated »

My 2×4 Burrill “white fir” lumber has been drying in the basement: all of it for a week, some of it for 2+. I bought a moisture meter to measure the wood moisture and see much of it in the 5-8% range and some of it 10%. Comparing to other scraps in the basement that seem to have that same range, so I’m guessing that’s good—I should probably cut a few pieces to check inside better, though. Anyway, most of the boards are still quite straight but a few have developed a small twist or bend, and a couple have developed some cracks. (Is it still called “checking” when it’s not on the end?)

I sorted through to find the best stuff for the top. I sorted it into four stacks: A, B, C, and D, we’ll call them. Now, they all need to be planed a bit and that may change my choices some, but I’m at least prioritizing what I think is best. As a reminder, I’m going to build a Benchcrafted-inspired split-top roubo so will need a whole bunch for the top—at 1-1/4” thick, I’d probably need 21. I’d prefer a bench that’s a little wider, though, so will probably add a few to that.

The “A” pile looks like great stuff. All quite straight and free of twist, and all have at least two sides that are knot-free. Some have three sides that are knot-free. Three have no knots whatsoever! Obviously I can use these for the front and back of each slabs; I’m wondering if I should review things more closely and set some of these aside for higher-visibility areas like the legs and stretchers. There are seven of these.

The “B” pile is also very nice. All quite straight and free of twist, and all have a beautiful edge with no knots nearby. Ideal for the top where only the edge is visible. There are eight of these.

And finally, the “C” pile: also quite good. Two of these have a very minor bend in them but the others are straight. They have one edge that looks pretty good; almost knot-free. There are some knots near the edges so years after the bench is built and is reflattened and resurfaced several times I’m sure I’ll be into these knots. Probably not really a concern, but it’s easy to aim for perfection at this point! There are six of these.

At this point, I’m declaring the “D” pile unsuitable for the top. Now, there are some great boards in that pile! Some very clean stuff that I can cut out to use for legs and stretchers. But not clear the full length of the board for use on the top. Also, there are a few boards I threw in this pile that I can’t see why I chose them: knots everywhere. I’ve no idea why I picked them!

A + B + C, or 7 + 8 + 6 = 21. I haven’t milled anything down yet, so don’t know exact widths yet, but I’d guess I want 23 or 25 boards for the top. But I only have 21. Ugh. Maybe I should review the “D” pile more carefully, or maybe I should go back to Home Depot and try to pick out a few more.



4 comments so far

View ralbuck's profile

ralbuck

3514 posts in 2048 days


#1 posted 12-12-2016 02:52 AM

Well sorting—waiting are all part of the deal!

Good luck!

-- SAWDUST is THERAPY without a couch! just rjR

View map's profile

map

97 posts in 3295 days


#2 posted 12-14-2016 12:36 AM

Dan,

You have some nice looking lumber there! I don’t see any reason that you could not go for the split top roubo Takes 2 slabs ~12” wide. You have the lumber for that. Chris Schwarz writes about building a lot of benches with HD lumber and seems very successful. When I built mine, I don’t think that I would have made it without a planer. With one, preparation takes time, but does not result in lasting pain.

I would mill the 2×4s down to ~1.25×3.25 and join them together for the top. From the pictures, even your C group would seen suitable for the top. Put the slightly bend ones in the center and the other will hold them straight.

In any case, good luck in your adventure.

map

-- measure once, cut once, swear, start over

View map's profile

map

97 posts in 3295 days


#3 posted 12-14-2016 12:36 AM

Dan,

You have some nice looking lumber there! I don’t see any reason that you could not go for the split top roubo Takes 2 slabs ~12” wide. You have the lumber for that. Chris Schwarz writes about building a lot of benches with HD lumber and seems very successful. When I built mine, I don’t think that I would have made it without a planer. With one, preparation takes time, but does not result in lasting pain.

I would mill the 2×4s down to ~1.25×3.25 and join them together for the top. From the pictures, even your C group would seen suitable for the top. Put the slightly bend ones in the center and the other will hold them straight.

In any case, good luck in your adventure.

map

-- measure once, cut once, swear, start over

View Easterlake's profile

Easterlake

19 posts in 305 days


#4 posted 12-22-2016 07:30 AM

I’d be curious how your top is turning out. I am almost finished with the base for my workbench.
Mine is not a true roubo. It’s just the combination of many benches I’ve seen over the years, built to my desires and size (I’m 6’7”)
My top will also by glued up DF. It will include a wagon vise along with a tray with a removable lid. Also, the bottom will be inclosed with 6 drawers.
I plan on picking out my lumber in the next week or 2.
Keep us posted. Maybe I’ll learn something.
Thanks

-- Life is hard; It's even harder if you're stupid. - John Wayne

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