My First Blog - My First Workbench #5: The Top - Part2

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Blog entry by manilaboy posted 05-18-2008 07:23 AM 2892 reads 1 time favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: The Top Part 5 of My First Blog - My First Workbench series no next part

Hello Everybody,

Kamusta ka Gary? Sabi ko na nga ba at may bumubulong sa iyo kung ano isusulat mo dyan. hehehe. Just the same, nagagalak ako at kahit papaano ay naipapakita mo at naipaparamdam ang pagmamalasakit mo sa mga kapwa mo LJ. Try to translate that for me without any help ;-) Just the same, I appreciate it very much. Salamat.

As for the others, I am still counting on you. A blog is supposed to be participatory. This will be a lot more informative and educational if you all can share your experiences.

The box joints for the top were probably the toughest I’ve encountered in my otherwise short woodworking bio. Never really knew if I can until I tried…

After dry fitting all the joints, glued it all up. I really don’t know if the dowel on the joints is necessary. Did it anyway. What’s your call? BTW, those bamboo chopsticks have yet to fail me and they are cheap. Perfect size (1/4”) for the kind of application I use them on, carcass construction.


I want the aprons to sit flush with the legs on both sides but I forgot to take measurements of the final width of the legs before glue up above. So I made two full notches on one side and partial notches on the other side and I also trimmed the mating part on the leg uprights….


At this stage, this is how it looked like with the top mounted on the legs…


I then laid out the lines for the dado to accept the crossmembers, routed it and squared it up with a chisel…


The crossmembers installed. I also added the feet at this stage. I used the cut-offs from the 2 X 3 crossmembers. Routed a stopped groove following the thickness of the legs. Put some glue and slipped it on…


I also drilled holes through the crossmembers (the top’s and the leg’s). 3 bolts sized 5/16” secured each leg to the top. It aint wracking no more.

It is not finished yet but already serving its purpose. This is the reason why I constructed my bench with its top plush with the legs. It is very easy to work on an edge of a large workpiece clamped to a bench like in the picture below. Here, I am trimming the edges of the plywood top to fit the rabbets…


The first layer of the plywood top glued and doweled..


I never really intended to dowel and glue the top layer but the contact cement I used to attach the second layer to the first layer failed when I applied stain on it. The plywood ends curled up. At this point, I was too lazy to take out the top layer and redo it besides there might be areas that the contact cement had not failed yet. Taking it out might damage one or more plies of the plywood. The wood filler made the top look bad. It made the gap more noticeable.


I then drilled a hole for a 3/4” pipe vise. That’s a US$2.00 forstner bit on my drill.


The pipe vise on. I will probably drill another hole on one end. Sort of an end vise. I don’t know about dog holes though. I still do not have a need for it. Time will tell….


It is already stained and varnished. Still have not taken a picture though.

I hope you enjoyed the ride…. like I did!

-- "Real jocks do it on a bench"

19 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3969 days

#1 posted 05-18-2008 12:02 PM

This came together pretty nicely. I hope you had some help moving the bench inside as it looks solid.

I would like to see the final pictures and let me say that this has been an enjoyable posting.

Well done.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4135 days

#2 posted 05-19-2008 03:01 AM

No more Tagalog from me. It’s our secret. :-)

Very nice job. I don’t think that the dowels are necessary, but they sure won’t hurt!

Great job so far.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View manilaboy's profile


177 posts in 4082 days

#3 posted 05-20-2008 01:46 AM

Thanks Scott. I enjoyed it as much as the real work and sharing it with all you Jocks. I hope to have provided amusement if not inspiration to all the newbies. ;-)

It is our secret then, Gary. I really appreciate the interest and genuine regard for the success of my journey and all the beginners at Lumberjocks. With you and all the other masters in here, I see no reason why we can’t succeed. Salamat!

-- "Real jocks do it on a bench"

View jcees's profile


1068 posts in 3946 days

#4 posted 05-21-2008 04:24 AM

Can’t wait to see it stained and finished. Bet it’s pretty.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View Miket's profile


308 posts in 3919 days

#5 posted 07-13-2008 07:21 AM

So how is your workbench working out for you?

-- It's better to have people think you're stupid rather than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

View manilaboy's profile


177 posts in 4082 days

#6 posted 07-16-2008 02:32 AM

Hi Mike,

It is everything I had hoped it would be and then more.

Foremost of which is the confidence it gave me to take on larger and more complex projects. My workbench is not perfect, very far from it. But the experience I gained in its design/construction provided me with invaluable insights on how to go about the work at hand. I have to match my skill and my limited access to tools and materials to the design I had in mind. The design is really that. It is all in my mind. No formal plan.

Secondly, I now have a workbench. With a pipe clamp on it, I can hold any project with authority. With a few more holes on the aprons and another pipe clamp on, I can virtually hold a project any which way I can imagine. I now have a place to put my pencil on. Just like any other ‘jock, I too lose my pencil at the most inopportune time ;-) I now have a place to put down my hand tools on where it is safe and within easy reach. However, I still do not do heavy chisel work on it. I do not want to mar the surface. After all, it is the first flat surface I have worked on.

Thirdly, a flat surface is a good surface to take a nap on. Hehehe

I love my router but my bench is quickly gaining favor as my favorite tool in my shop.

-- "Real jocks do it on a bench"

View jeanmarc's profile


1899 posts in 3863 days

#7 posted 07-27-2008 07:34 AM

Very nice job.

-- jeanmarc manosque france

View axilla_the_hun's profile


22 posts in 3336 days

#8 posted 09-02-2009 09:31 AM

Bamboo chopsticks?
I thought maybe you at a lot of bannana-q’s while working :)

Why don’t you install a dedicated face vise though? You can get an old-style Record Bench Screw and build it into your table. The screw’s cheaper than the pony pipe vise; bigger too.

-- I still have all ten thumbs

View a1Jim's profile


117234 posts in 3724 days

#9 posted 09-03-2009 12:14 AM

Well done I enjoyed every step

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View manilaboy's profile


177 posts in 4082 days

#10 posted 09-07-2009 09:37 AM

Hi Axilla,

I’ve thought of that. I am already slow with my woodworking as it is. Finishing a banana q for the sticks would have slowed me down further. :-)

Tell me where in Manila I can get that Record Bench Screw Vise. BTW, nice to know that there is another jock based in Manila. Welcome aboard!




-- "Real jocks do it on a bench"

View axilla_the_hun's profile


22 posts in 3336 days

#11 posted 09-07-2009 02:30 PM

The screw I got from Panda @ 655 each. I posted the exact info here, (the guys in that thread are good at finding local stuff)

I haven’t mounted mine yet, I’m not yet ready to build a real workbench. I’m thinking of mounting it on a workmate-like design

-- I still have all ten thumbs

View manilaboy's profile


177 posts in 4082 days

#12 posted 09-08-2009 02:48 PM

Ok. So that’s where they have the good stuff. I will give it a try when I happen to pass by Araneta. It’s just a long way off the office. The price is not bad. I know that Han’s is getting me fleeced. I just don’t know of any source.

I’ve heard about tipidpc. But never crossed my mind that table saws and clamps could be discussed there. :-)

There were a couple of avid woodworkers in that thread. Do you know them personally?



-- "Real jocks do it on a bench"

View axilla_the_hun's profile


22 posts in 3336 days

#13 posted 09-08-2009 03:34 PM

I haven’t met them, but they seem to know each other. They’re very supportive but they often have expensive advice.

Funny thing with Hans, I assumed that I got fleeced when I bought my block plane there. When I checked the prices on the internet I found out that I got a really good price for it. I think it was old stock, and they didn’t reprice it for inflation or something.

There’s always Recto and Soler, you can’t beat that for completeness but the pricing at Panda seemed competitive. The router bits were definitely cheaper there, Besides, Panda’s on my way home from work :)

BTW, did you have difficulty using a forstner bit on a hand drill? I thought that they were only suited for drill presses..

-- I still have all ten thumbs

View manilaboy's profile


177 posts in 4082 days

#14 posted 09-09-2009 02:02 AM

You can find most anything there in that part of Chinatown – T. Alonso/Soler/Recto/Gandara/Evangelista. My father used to tag me along whenever he needed to get something there. I am just avoiding the place because it has become too chaotic and unsafe walking in that part of Manila. Parking is a nightmare also. Besides, I have never been there since my college days. That’s about 30 years ago!

You have to be very patient and careful when using a forstner bit on a hand drill. In fact it is considered unsafe in most cases. Most especially with large bits. You always have to maintain the perpendicularity to the workpiece. It is more manageable with a drill equipped with the speed controlled by the trigger. I practiced on a scrap piece first. Begin very slow and gradually build up speed until the bit bites and maintain that speed and never exert too much pressure. You’re exerting too much pressure or you’re going out of perpendicular when it starts to kick back. Hehehe.

If you do not have a drill press or if a drill press is not practical, try a router. It is a far safer tool to use when you have to drill shallow holes. The holes will be neater and perfectly perpendicular. But there are also times when a router isn’t also practical.

Or if you have access to a drill press but it is not practical, drill a hole the size of your forstner bit on a piece of scrap and then clamp that piece of scrap to the work piece and use it as a drill guide. You will eliminate most of the vibration and you will have a cleaner more accurate hole.

Hope this helps and is correct. Hey guys! Please chime in if you have something further.


-- "Real jocks do it on a bench"

View axilla_the_hun's profile


22 posts in 3336 days

#15 posted 09-09-2009 01:27 PM

You must have really steady hands :) I think I’ll settle with a hole saw then.

I noticed that you did your planing with an electric planer; is there a particular magic to using them? I’m having trouble getting anything straight and square with my electric planer, it always eats up too much at the ends of a board (is that what they call snipe?).

-- I still have all ten thumbs

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