Okay, I should probably preface this by stating that I started this bench about 2 months ago. I have been gathering lumber and vise hardware as economically as possible. So before anyone tries to duplicate this bench in a weekend they should seed out the lumber and acclimate it to their shop as well as purchase the vise hardware.
That said, you need a bench to build a bench. Sorry, I haven’t come up with a way around this yet. To date I have a fairly well equipped shop, yet I still feel helpless when it comes to dealing with work holding. I could start in by laminating up a benchtop, but that becomes a difficult task without a place to deal with the rough stock I have on hand. So in this case necessity is the mother of invention. I need a bench. I don’t want to spend 6 months or even 1 month building it. I have been boning up on work holding strategy and think I have a good handle on things.
laminate MDF top 3in thick
twin screw front vise
quick release end vise
use rough lumber without surfacing
meet 90% of my holding needs
Okay, so let’s dive in:
Okay, so there is more than meets the eye. Applying glue to 32sqft at a time is not a walk in the park. By the third lamination I had it down to about a 5min process, but the first one was not as easy. First step was roughing out the sheet goods. In the end none on the pieces had perfect rips. I trudged on and laminated up 1 sheet at a time. I found the best edges and used these for the front. Glue up was a race against time. I found that pouring glue on the board and then rolling from there was the fastest way to get full coverage. Once glued I would flip the boards face to face, align, and then clamp. I added the sand bags for additional pressure in the middle. Full width cauls would work better I imagine.
One item to note. My garage is no level surface. I used a couple of 2×4 boards to level the trimmed out sheets. It worked well. I did not joint or go to any great lengths to get 100% flatness over the 8ft length. I did verify that I had flatness to 6ft with my aluminum level. A good Jointed edge would likely get a little more flatness, but for all intents and purposes the 6ft flat is better than any other surface in my shop, so I think it is good enough for me. You decide for yourself how flat you want to be or obsess over.
No, it is not done and no it is not all roses. I did bobble the router a few times on the rear face. The bit was dulled after the front face and I tried to fight it. In the end I stopped and sharpened the bit. In retrospect I should have sharpened it before starting despite it being a brand new bit.
Sharp bits work wonders. A 2.5in tall and dull bit is a lot to handle. Fortunately only the rear ended up with any issue.
Okay, so now I an ready for edging and vise mounting. Stay tuned.
-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama