As you can see in the picture below, Douglas fir comes in a wide range of colors. These are the boards that I selected for the top. The boards with the wild figure are more quartersawn. I kind of like the straight grain lines of the rift sawn and plain sawn boards. If I had to do it over I might have paid more attention to this, but as it is it’s not too bad. Since there was such a wide diversity of colors, I tried to arrange a kind of gradient from dark to light to dark again. We’ll see how this turns out. The front of the bench will be to the right. I placed most of the better looking boards towards the front.
Joint, joint, rip, plane, repeat. That’s all there is to milling up the boards. Actually, I did joint, joint, joint, ..., rip, rip, rip, ..., plane, plane, plane, plane, ....
A couple of problems arose for me while doing this. I lost one board because it turned out I had tapered one edge so severely on the jointer that the max width I could get was 3 1/8”. All the other boards were ripped to 3 1/4”. It also turned out that the total thickness of the boards that I had came out to about 21”. I didn’t get as much thickness out of the boards as I had hoped.
Here are some images from the glue up:
I did four subassemblies of four boards each. I left the front face board unglued, because I had this idea to avoid having to notch a lot of waste from one of the ends to flush the end vise. The idea is to glue up boards to match the width of the end vise, clean cut the ends of these boards, and then offset the other boards to create the notch. It turned out that the first two subassemblies glued up to 10.5” wide. That’s exactly the width of the end vise! Cool!
Now I just had to clean cut the ends of those boards. Can my trusty miter saw handle the 3 1/4” thick, 10.5” wide slab?
Yes it can!
That’s the biggest chunk of wood I’ve cut with that thing.
So, back to that problem of only having a 21” wide top. While moving that big slab around, I accidentally dinged it and left a little nick in the wood. Douglas fir is pretty “dentable”. It’s pretty low on the Janka scale. I decided to add something harder for the front and back face to protect those edges a bit.
I was originally going to use ash and had to pick some up anyway for the vise chops. On Saturday, I went to the Hardwood Emporium in Golden for the first time. The owner, Jay, is a great guy. I can’t recommend that place highly enough. Well, Jay didn’t have 8/4 ash, so I ended up splurging on 8/4 hard maple. The 9” 10 ft. and 7” 9 ft. boards that I bought cost about the same as all of the fir! But I should end up with enough leftovers to make some legs for a night stand and a table.
This was my first experience with hard maple. It’s hard and heavy! Trying to joint an edge so I could rip it was tough especially with that mobile base on the jointer and the uneven garage floor which made it a little less stable than ideal. The jointer was none too happy on the first couple of passes. I had left the depth of cut at closer to 1/16” that I was using with the fir. I backed off on the depth of cut and the jointer didn’t whine as much. I hadn’t realized how good I had it with the Douglas fir!
I was amazed at how much more thickness I got out of that rough lumber. Close to 1 3/4”. Here they make their appearance in the final glue-up:
Yes, I ended up doing this on my kitchen floor! It’s the biggest flatish surface I have in my house. Here’s a picture from the other end that better shows the end vise notch idea:
I should only have to pare back a little to accommodate the end vise.
Well, that’s all for now. Here’s a teaser for the next segment:
The raggedy, uneven top.
And the magical tool that will conquer it.