For the last few years, I have been doing the majority of my work on an old bench that was in my basement when I moved in. As a work surface for dropping old oily lawnmower parts or fiddling with a child’s broken toy, it was adequate. For woodworking, not so much. The height of the bench is about 36 inches and the width was a little over 3 feet. The boards have shifted over the years and the surface was very uneven. The amount of nails and screws made it impossible to safely flatten and posed too much of a danger to my blades to attempt to reuse the lumber. This is what it looked like before complete disassembly -
I needed a bench with a thick, flat surface, some heft and rigidity for planing. I have a basement shop so the dimensions are going to be 5 feet long with a depth of 20 inches. Design is from a variety of sources including a weekend workbench design by Shop Notes and some articles by Chris Schwartz. No drawers will be added as I need a bench not a cabinet. Aprons and drawers will only get in the way of clamping so I will work on some cabinetry for storage in the future and will make a foldaway assembly table for finishing and assembly work. This will strictly be used for working the lumber into parts. This will not be designed as robust as other workbenches I have seen on here, but should fit the bill to end much frustration I have experienced in the past.
Legs are not mortised but half lapped with the side stretchers. The legs and stretchers are 4×4 generously donated by a friend -
For the top, I picked up some SYP from a local lumber company. They only stocked 2×8s so had to rip to size the boards. I ran the faces through a planer not to flatten but to give a decent face to face glue-up. Due to the amount of sap in the wood, I gave each board a wipe down of acetone. This was advised in an article by Schwartz as it cleans the surface but also evaporates quickly. Sappy pine can resist glue absorption so a thorough wipe down removes any substances that causes the pores to resist soaking up the glue. I utilized about every clamp I had in the shop (and probably came up a little short) and was able to get a decent face to face glue-up. After that, I used a scrub plane, jack plane, and jointer plane to flatten the surface. Scrub planes can be aggressive in stock removal. I have a planer for thicknessing so I actually set my scrub plane with a more gentle sweep so that I can flatten in a hurry, but not at the cost of losing too much thickness. After flattening and smoothing, I mixed some glue and fine saw dust to make a paste to fill in any slight gaps. Gaps were surface only (I didn’t have perfectly flat stock) and did not run deeper than probably 1/8th of an inch. It just makes for a more pleasant appearance.
All the knots are on the bottom of the bench (that is what is currently shown) so that imperfections are not on the work surface. It will also make planning out the layout of dog holes easier because I will drill from the bottom and I can work around all knotted surfaces. I will add the front stretches to the legs, mount the bench top, and surface the top next. I have a wood vise I found at a garage sale for 5 bucks. It is a HF model but will suit my purposes just fine. I have a couple days off next week, so hopefully I will have some pics of a finished bench then.
Thanks to all for looking and keep the saw dust flying,
-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.